Trip Report: Hungary, August 9-22, 1997

Gerd Rotzoll, Hannover, Germany;

This is a summary of a birding trip to Hungary made by me and my son Robert in August 1997.

After the fall of the iron curtain, visiting Hungary is as simple as in other European countries: only a passport and no visa is needed. As this was our first time in the country, we visited the most popular birding area, the Hortobagy National Park (HNP), with only two longer day-trips to sites further away.

Travel was by car which seems a must since the distances between the various sites in the HNP are quite large. We easily found private accommodation in Hortobagy village from where we started our daily excursions. The weather was sunny and warm all the time with only two thundery afternoons. Mosquitos were a problem occasionally and it is advisable to have some insect-repellent. To enter sites within HNP, a permit is required which can be obtained for HUF 2000.- (equal to about 20.- DM) at the information building situated near the west entrance of the park at route 33 (near the Patkos Csarda).

During the preparations for the tour I used the following sources:

Sites visited

The trip to Aggtelek was for raptors, possible woodpeckers and Rock Bunting; the trip to the Sarkad area was of a purely exploratory nature.

In the following I will give some detailed information on the more interesting species seen and finally a full species list.

Black-necked Grebe:

Ca. 10 on the Kaba ponds on 12.8.

Pygmy Cormorant:

Only on the Halasto fish-ponds. Singles occasionally seen flying around, but best viewed after a long walk along the middle track from the south end. Ca. 10 there on 13.8.

Black-crowned Night Heron:

At Ohat 1 ad.+ 1 juv. on 14.8. and 1 ad. on 19.8. In the evening of 21.8., 30+ flew in to a roost directly at the road just north of Nagyivan.

Squacco Heron:

1-2 at Halasto on 13.8., 4 at Ohat on 14.8., singles there on 16. and 19.8., 10+ at Fenyes on 17.8. and 1 at Balmazujvaros on 20.8.

Little Egret:

Seen in small numbers at Karcag, Halasto, Ohat, Jusztus marsh, Fenyes and Balmazujvaros. Highest number 8 at Ohat on 21.8.

Great White Egret:

Usually ones or twos at Halasto, Ohat and Fenyes. Highest count 13 in wet meadows east of Halasto on 15.8.

Purple Heron:

Small numbers (1-4) at Halasto, south of Szasztelek, Ohat, Fenyes and Jusztus. Both ad. and juv.

Black Stork:

Singles were seen between 12. and 19.8. at Karcag, south of Szasztelek and at Ohat. Migration onset was witnessed in the morning of 18.8., when 15 birds rose from the puszta east of Hortobagy village and another flock of 8 was roosting on the other side of road 33 in the evening.

Glossy Ibis:

8 were seen in wet meadows east of Halasto on 13.8.


1 was at Karcag on 12.8., ca. 5 at Ohat on 14.8. and 10 (in flight) at Jusztus on 15.8.

Ferruginous Duck:

3 were seen flying at Ohat on 16.8. and 12 were at Fenyes on 17.8.

Honey Buzzard:

One was seen on 15.8. from the small parking area (from here on called raptor parking area) situated west of the museum at the northern road between Balmazujvaros and Tiszacsege.

White-tailed Eagle:

An ad. was seen flying over Ohat on 21.8.

Short-toed Eagle:

1 was flying east of Halasto on 15.8. and 2 over the Jusztus marsh on 21.8.

Lesser Spotted Eagle:

On our day-trip to the Aggtelek Hills, we looked for raptors at the wooded hillside from road 27 a few km before the Slovakian border (described in the Gosney guide). We had no luck with Imperial, but saw an ad. Lesser Spotted Eagle here on 14.8.

Imperial Eagle:

Truly a bird worth coming to Hungary for! On 15.8. we saw one in some distance over the Darassa Puszta. Since the views were not very satisfying, we tried again and had much better and prolonged views on 20.8. It was a subad., probably in its 4th calendar year. The best was yet to come, however. On our way back home on 22.8., we saw 1 ad./subad. and 1 juv. sitting on top of a low tree only about 100m from road 33 (near Dormand) giving excellent views! We could hear the begging calls of the juvenile all the time. Another subad. was soaring nearby. Obviously a pair with a recently fledged young!

Marsh Harrier:

Common and almost everywhere over ponds, marshes and puszta. Highest count 20+ near Karcag on 12.8.

Montagu's Harrier:

Seen in numbers from 1 to 5 northeast of Nagyivan, Darassa, near Sarkad, northeast of Nadudvar and Angyalhaza between 13. and 20.8.

Long-legged Buzzard:

2 were seen in the Darassa Puszta on 12.8. and 1 again on 20.8. According to Hungarian sources, the species has bred here in 1997. Another bird was seen northeast of Nadudvar on 18.8.

Red-footed Falcon:

These handsome birds were a constant delight. Good numbers were encountered almost everywhere in the area, with the largest numbers just west of Hortobagy village, where they gathered on the wires in the evening. We estimated 80 birds there on 12.8. These numbers were going down, however, towards the end of our stay.


1-2 seen on 3 dates between 12. and 20.8. from the raptor parking area described above. Singles seen elsewhere at Kaba, at road 33 east of Hortobagy village and south of Szasztelek.


This was the only lifer for me (Robert got 12), and we were very lucky with birds seen 6 times. On our arrival day (11.8.), we saw the first Saker, an ad., from road 33 west of Poroszlo. This was followed by a juv. on the same day sitting on a bale of straw on a meadow north of route 33 1 km east of the Halasto turn-off. The next one was seen soaring over the Darassa Puszta in some distance on 12.8. and, what was probably the same bird, one north of the road from the raptor parking area on 20.8. Another bird was seen circling south of route 33 east of Hortobagy village on 18.8.(seen from a small "hill" behind a house where horse-coaches start). And the last bird flew right over road 33 west of the turn-off to Nagyivan on our way back home on 22.8.

Common Crane:

4 flew near Nagyhort on 16.8

Great Bustard:

13 birds were on a harvested field northeast of Nagyivan on 13.8.

Black-winged Stilt:

5 were on the ponds near Balmzujvaros on 20.8.

Stone Curlew:

These birds favour a place right at the edge of Nagyivan: 4 on 13.8. and 10 on 21.8.


5+ were seen just before nightfall in the Angyalhaza Puszta on 20.8.

Broad-billed Sandpiper:

1 juv. at Ohat from 16.-21.8.

Marsh Sandpiper:

3 at Ohat 19./21.8. and 1 at Balmazujvaros ponds 20.8.

Whiskered Tern:

Regularly encountered at Halasto, Ohat and Fenyes. Highest count 80+ at Ohat on 21.8. Good opportunities to study young in juv. plumage.

Short-eared Owl:

1 in the Angyalhaza Puszta 20.8.

European Bee-eater:

7+ (ad.,juv.) south of Egyek 16.8., heard from the raptor parking area on 20.8.


Encountered in small numbers (up to 5) mainly at road 33 between Patkos Csarda and Jusztus marsh (11. and 15.8.). Elsewhere 2+ at road 33 west of Poroszlo on 11.8. and 1 near Sarkad 17.8.


Only two sightings: 2 northeast of Hortobagy village on 11.8. and 1 near Sarkad on 17.8.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker:

A short search for woodpeckers at the Szadvar hill north of Szogliget (see Gosney, page 14, no.4) yielded only a Middle Spotted and a Great Spotted.

Short-toed Lark:

1 on a Goose farm near Nagyhort on 16.8.

Crested Lark:

Quite widespread around villages and farms, for example Hortobagy village, south of Szasztelek and Egyek

Tawny Pipit:

A few northeast of Hortobagy village on 11.8., 1 near Karcag on 12.8., 2+ northeast of Nadudvar on 18.8. and 4 in the Angyalhaza Puszta on 20.8.

Savi's Warbler:

Quite often heard, but not seen at Halasto and Ohat.

Great Reed Warbler:

1-2 seen at Halasto, Angyalhaza, Ohat and Jusztus

Lesser Grey Shrike:

Widespread and rather common, especially at the beginning of our stay. Easily found sitting on wires directly at road 33.

Rock Bunting:

Our trip to the Aggtelek Hills on 14.8. was rewarded by the sighting of 2 males. We didn't have to look on the Szadvar hill (Gosney page 14), but we saw them right at the road leading to the hill in a small quarry at the roadside (ca. 1 km before the road ends at a sort of camp).

Full species list

  1. Little Grebe -- Tachybaptus ruficollis
  2. Great Crested Grebe -- Podiceps cristatus
  3. Black-necked Grebe -- Podiceps nigricollis
  4. Cormorant -- Phalacrocorax carbo
  5. Pygmy Cormorant -- Phalacrocorax pygmeus
  6. Little Bittern -- Ixobrychus minutus
  7. Black-crowned Night Heron -- Nycticorax nycticorax
  8. Squacco Heron -- Ardeola ralloides
  9. Little Egret -- Egretta garzetta
  10. Great White Egret -- Egretta alba
  11. Grey Heron -- Ardea cinerea
  12. Purple Heron -- Ardea purpurea
  13. Black Stork -- Ciconia nigra
  14. White Stork -- Ciconia ciconia
  15. Glossy Ibis -- Plegadis falcinellus
  16. Spoonbill -- Platalea leucorodia
  17. Greylag Goose -- Anser anser
  18. Wigeon -- Anas penelope
  19. Gadwall -- Anas strepera
  20. Teal -- Anas crecca
  21. Mallard -- Anas platyrhynchos
  22. Garganey -- Anas querquedula
  23. Shoveler -- Anas clypeata
  24. Pochard -- Aythya ferina
  25. Ferruginous Duck -- Aythya nyroca
  26. Honey Buzzard -- Pernis apivorus
  27. White-tailed Eagle -- Haliaeetus albicilla
  28. Short-toed Eagle -- Circaetus gallicus
  29. Marsh Harrier -- Circus aeruginosus
  30. Montagu's Harrier -- Circus pygargus
  31. Sparrowhawk -- Accipiter nisus
  32. Common Buzzard -- Buteo buteo
  33. Long-legged Buzzard -- Buteo rufinus
  34. Lesser Spotted Eagle -- Aquila pomarina
  35. Imperial Eagle -- Aquila heliaca
  36. Common Kestrel -- Falco tinnunculus
  37. Red-footed Falcon -- Falco vespertinus
  38. Hobby -- Falco subbuteo
  39. Saker -- Falco cherrug
  40. Quail -- Coturnix coturnix
  41. Pheasant -- Phasianus colchicus
  42. Water Rail -- Rallus aquaticus
  43. Coot -- Fulica atra
  44. Common Crane -- Grus grus
  45. Great Bustard -- Otis tarda
  46. Oystercatcher -- Haematopus ostralegus
  47. Black-winged Stilt -- Himantopus himantopus
  48. Avocet -- Recurvirostra avosetta
  49. Stone Curlew -- Burhinus oedicnemus
  50. Little Ringed Plover -- Charadrius dubius
  51. Ringed Plover -- Charadrius hiaticula
  52. Dotterel -- Charadrius morinellus
  53. Lapwing -- Vanellus vanellus
  54. Little Stint -- Calidris minuta
  55. Curlew Sandpiper -- Calidris ferruginea
  56. Dunlin -- Calidris alpina
  57. Broad-billed Sandpiper -- Limicola falcinellus
  58. Ruff -- Philomachus pugnax
  59. Common Snipe -- Gallinago gallinago
  60. Black-tailed Godwit -- Limosa limosa
  61. Curlew -- Numenius arquata
  62. Spotted Redshank -- Tringa erythropus
  63. Common Redshank -- Tringa totanus
  64. Marsh Sandpiper -- Tringa stagnatilis
  65. Greenshank -- Tringa nebularia
  66. Green Sandpiper -- Tringa ochropus
  67. Wood Sandpiper -- Tringa glareola
  68. Common Sandpiper -- Actitis hypoleucos
  69. Little Gull -- Larus minutus
  70. Black-headed Gull -- Larus ridibundus
  71. Common Gull -- Larus canus
  72. Yellow-legged Gull -- Larus cachinnans
  73. Common Tern -- Sterna hirundo
  74. Whiskered Tern -- Chlidonias hybridus
  75. Black Tern -- Chlidonias niger
  76. Collared Dove -- Streptopelia decaocto
  77. Turtle Dove -- Streptopelia turtur
  78. Cuckoo -- Cuculus canorus
  79. Short-eared Owl -- Asio flammeus
  80. Common Kingfisher -- Alcedo atthis
  81. European Bee-eater -- Merops apiaster
  82. Roller -- Coracias garrulus
  83. Hoopoe -- Upupa epops
  84. Great Spotted Woodpecker -- Dendrocopus major
  85. Middle Spotted Woodpecker -- Dendrocopus medius
  86. Short-toed Lark -- Calandrella brachydactyla
  87. Crested Lark -- Galerida cristata
  88. Skylark -- Alauda arvensis
  89. Sand Martin -- Riparia riparia
  90. Barn Swallow -- Hirundo rustica
  91. House Martin -- Delichon urbica
  92. Tawny Pipit -- Anthus campestris
  93. Tree Pipit -- Anthus trivialis
  94. Blue-headed Wagtail -- Motacilla flava
  95. White-headed Wagtail -- Motacilla alba
  96. Whinchat -- Saxicola rubetra
  97. Stonechat -- Saxicola torquata
  98. Northern Wheatear -- Oenanthe oenanthe
  99. Song Thrush -- Turdus philomelos
  100. Savi's Warbler -- Locustella luscinioides
  101. Sedge Warbler -- Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
  102. Reed Warbler -- Acrocephalus scirpaceus
  103. Great Reed Warbler -- Acrocephalus arundinaceus
  104. Lesser Whitethroat -- Sylvia curruca
  105. Spotted Flycatcher -- Muscicapa striata
  106. Bearded Tit -- Panurus biarmicus
  107. Marsh Tit -- Parus palustris
  108. Coal Tit -- Parus ater
  109. Great Tit -- Parus major
  110. Penduline Tit -- Remiz pendulinus
  111. Golden Oriole -- Oriolus oriolus
  112. Red-backed Shrike -- Lanius collurio
  113. Lesser Grey Shrike -- Lanius minor
  114. Magpie -- Pica pica
  115. Rook -- Corvus frugilegus
  116. Carrion Crow -- Corvus corone
  117. Raven -- Corvus corax
  118. Starling -- Sturnus vulgaris
  119. House Sparrow -- Passer domesticus
  120. Tree Sparrow -- Passer montanus
  121. Goldfinch -- Carduelis caduelis
  122. Linnet -- Carduelis cannabina
  123. Yellowhammer -- Emberiza citrinella
  124. Rock Bunting -- Emberiza cia
  125. Reed Bunting -- Emberiza schoeniclus
  126. Corn Bunting -- Miliaria calandra

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Return to trip reports.

This page served by Urs Geiser;; September 23, 1997; updated May 29, 2000