Hungary Nature

Birding Hungary

At the heart of Europe, in the Carpathian Basin, Hungary is one of Europe’s most exciting birding destinations. It is the land of the Magyars (including Attila the Hun and Tony Curtis) and goulash. Hungary’s national bird, the magnificent Great Bustard is a local specialty and often requires some local knowledge to find; check the lowland Kiskunság region between the Danube and Tisza rivers. Indeed, many of Hungary’s speciality birds are found among these grasslands, the so-called “puszta,” which resemble prairie habitat. Two superb raptors, the Saker Falcon and Eastern Imperial Eagle, have their European strongholds on these plains. Late April sees heavy shorebird passage, with Ruff in smart breeding plumage. Fall brings return migration, with over 100,000 Common Cranes passing through in October. Summer breeders in these lowlands include Red-footed Falcon, Eurasian Roller, and Lesser Grey Shrike, and most wetlands come to life with wildfowl, grebes, and herons, plus Savi's Warbler, Bearded Reedling, and Penduline Tit. The hill forests of Aggtelek, Borzsöny, Bükk and Zemplén in the north host nine woodpecker species including Europe’s rarest, the White-backed Woodpecker. Hungary also hosts a tempting range of owls, including breeding Eurasian Eagle-, Tawny, and Ural Owls. On the northwest border with Austria, a mosaic of salt-lakes, reed-beds and pastures around Lake Fertó cross a famous national frontier; breeding and migrant shorebirds and wintering geese can be found where the Iron Curtain once stood. As you pass through Budapest, taste your token goulash, but seek out the other elements of the country’s diverse cuisine. Sample the hot springs and architecture in this historic capitol city, and then head for the country to find your Carpathian Blue Slug. Contributor: Gerard Gorman/ PROBIRDER:www.probirder.com

What to See in Hungary


Notable Birds in Hungary (click species name to see related articles)


Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife

Bats represent around 20% of mammal species, terrestrial mammals include:

  • Southern white-breasted hedgehog
  • Eurasian pygmy shrew
  • Eurasian lynx
  • Brown Bear
  • Golden Jackal
  • Beech and Pine Marten
  • Boar
  • Roe and Red Deer
  • Moose


Other Attractions

  • Buda Castle- A UNESCO World Heritage site, gorgeous architecture on the side of a mountain, along a river- Who could ask for more?!
  • Explore Hungarian history in Holloko where traditional culture - and costume are still in effect
  • Aggtelek- Another UNESCO World Heritage sight, the largest cave system in  Central Europe
  • Szentendre- besides the birding, this is a favorite village for artistic locals and tourists alike, grab drinks at a cafe and explore the old cobblestone streets!
  • Find a gift to take home to loved ones from Ecseri piac, an enormous flea market just on the edge of Budapest, where you can find something for everyone!


Where and When to Go


Nature & Birding Hotspots in Hungary

  • Budapest
  • Aggtelek
  • Bodrogzug
  • Zemplen Hills
    • This is one of the best hill range in Hungary for raptors and owls. Due to the diverse landscape, choose accordingly when scoping out species as they vary with the habitats. Common Buzzard, Black Woodpecker, and Red-backed Shrike are pretty widespread, while specialties like the Eurasian Eagle and Ural Owls, are both more likely to be found early in the year when they are calling. The valley of the River Hernad runs along the western edge of the hills and is good for European Bee-eater, Lesser Grey Shrike, Merlin and Rough-legged Buzzard.
  • Bukk Hills
  • Borzsony Hills
  • Danube Bend
    • The River Danube passes through one of its most scenic stretches between the historic town of Esztergom and the tourist town of Szentendre. In summer the river is often busy with tourist traffic, but the riverside woodland and the large Szentendre Island are still great for woodpeckers and warblers. In autumn and winter Greater white-fronted Geese, Bean Geese, Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Velvet Scoter, Goldeneye, Goosander and Smew are regulars. When river levels are low you can catch a glimpse of Yellow-legged and Caspians roosting. In winter, Syrian and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Great Grey Shrike, Brambling and Hawfinch usually occupy the woodland riverside.
  • Hansag
    • A mosiac region of meadows, reedbed, alder, willow, and poplar woods, with the reedbeds and farmlands to hold Great Egret, Purple Heron, Black Kite, Western Marsh and Montagu's Harriers, some Corncrake, Black Tern, Black and Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Bluethroat, Barred, Mustached, and Savi's Warblers, Red-backed and the now rare Lesser Grey Shrike and Great Bustard.
  • Lake Ferto
  • Pilis Hills
  • Tata
  • Hortobagy
  • Lake Tisza
  • Vertes Hills
  • Ocsa
  • Lake Velence
  • Biharugra Fishponds
  • Kiskunsag Alkaline Lakes
  • Balaton
  • Kis-Balaton
  • Szeged-Lake Feher-to
  • Kardoskut

Contributor: Gerard Gorman/PROBIRDER: www.probirder.com


Hungary Birding and Nature Tours

Week or weekend long tours with Hungarian Bird Tours

Add cultural sightseeing stops to your itinerary with customized birding tours from Hungarian Bird Watching

Integrate biodiversity research, conservation efforts, photography and bird watching when you take a trip with SAKERTOUR

 


Hungary Ecolodges/Accommodations

Combine birding tours with stay at Kondor Ecolodge by Ecotours

Stay at the beautiful quaint Oriole Lodge for Birders, in the village of  Tiszaalpár, Hungary

 

 


Best Time to Go

The spring is a very productive time as woodpeckers begin activity in early March while the first migrants are starting to appear. From mid-April on, migratory birds of prey begin to arrive. By the end of May all breeding birds are present.

The summer months support many heron, egret and other wading species moving south in groups.

Come Autumn the first cranes and storks arrive and by mid-October can be seen in tens of thousands! Many birds of prey pass through during this season.

The best time to see waterfowl is from October-February as they roost in lakes and alond water bodies as long as the winter is not too harsh.


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