Sunday 10 November 2019

Hungary for birds

There's been no updates from the patch lately because I've been to Hungary.

We went for a short winter birding trip and a quick mooch around Budapest where we met up with our friend Gerard Gorman for a beer or two and got some guidance for our days of birding. Rather than target species, which I did have two - red-breasted goose and lesser white-fronted goose, it was the 'birding spectacles we were interested in.

The first of these spectacles was the great bustards in Kiskunsag National Park, where we saw a group of over 60 in one field.

Some of the great bustards in Kiskunsag
Then it was on to geese. Both Kiskunsag and Hortobagy National Parks attract huge numbers of Eurasian white-fronted and Eursian greylag geese as well as a LOT of other wildfowl. We weren't blessed with good weather, most of a whole day in Kiskunsag was written off due to rain and when it was raining it was grey and damp. I took hardly any photos and what I did take are silhouettes against a grey sky.

white-fronted geese at Hortobagy
Greylags and a great egret at Hortobagy
The next great spectacle was watching thousands of common cranes coming in to roost at Hortobagy. great long lines of them flying in at dusk - an amazing sight.

Finally, the surreal experience of an urban long-eared owl roost in trees in a residential cul-de-sac int he middle of a large town. We counted at at least 30 individuals in a handful of trees.

One of at least 30 roosting long-eared owls
I managed to see six red-breasted geese after a long walk in to the main fish ponds at Hortobagy but the lesser white-front was literally liking for a needle in a haystack and with poor light it was even trickier.

Raptors were good with plenty of hen harriers and white-tailed eagle, an adult imperial eagle and a couple of saker falcons were great to see.

Anyhoo - back to the patch.

Yesterday (Saturday) I had a quick wander out before the football. Gary Wren had reported a snow bunting on the haul road so I headed for that and met Gary who was watching the very-confiding bird on the northern boundary of the patch.

Snow bunting on the haul road
It wasn't long however, before it was chased north by a dog (literally) and I headed south through the dunes picking up some twite with a roving flock of goldfinch and linnet. A long-tailed tit flock roamed through the dunes and a second flock was by the path to the hides. Not much else to report. Full list here

When I was nearly in to Newcastle on the bus to the match, a report came through of nine waxwings moving south towards tot he Budge screen. I've still not seen waxwing on the patch so was more than a bit gutted but at least the toon managed a win.

Janet and I went for a walk this morning in the vain hope that the waxers might have hung about but as I suspected they'd just been fly-throughs.

There was a group of barnacle geese, maybe 14, with about 300 pinks on the front field, the bushes were quiet however - a few long-tailed tits. We met up with David Elliott and got on to a finch flock which included a bullfinch and a lesser redpoll.

Some of the pinks in the front field
We walked back by via the beach looking for snow buntings, we didn't see any but the sanderlings kept us entertained.

Full list here

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