Beautiful Kiskunsag area

Kiskunsag National Park is a UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserve in Hungary, located just few kms away from Budapest. It has spread over 570 square km between the Danube and Tisza River. It is not a single territory but scattered across the area. Marshy land, large plain fields and small lakes in between made this land suitable habitat for birds and can be considered as birdwatcher’s paradise.

(See Also : Birdwatching in Store Mosse National Park, Sweden )

During midsummer we had travelled to Hungary. Birding trip to Kiskunsag national park was also a part of the itinerary. We never had good luck with spotting birds. Many times, we had even missed very common ones. So, this time, it was a mere expectation to see some new birds without  any wish list.

On that day, we met our guide David just outside our hotel. He was very young but had lot of experience in birdwatching. His bird checklist was very long which included almost every bird of Hungary. He showed lot of patience and enthusiasm throughout the day.

We then started towards the national park. A woodpecker flew across, when we were still on the main road. By the flight and colour, I guessed that it could be a Great spotted woodpecker. But then David said there is a good chance of spotting a Syrian Woodpecker near the city, which will be mostly similar to Great Spotted Woodpecker. so we couldn’t count on that.

Bugyi Village

David stopped at the village Bugyi and pointed at a Stork nest. On tall towers just outside the houses, those white storks had built big nests. There were four nestlings in one of those nests. They looked so adorable with the newly formed white and black feathers with a black beak. Parents must had gone out to bring some food for them. There were tiny sparrows, who also made Storks’ nests as their own! Again, another woodpecker flew among the trees like a wave. Though we tried to follow its course, our search ended up in spotting few other birds like Eurasian Collared Dove, Goldfinch, Barn Swallows. A house martin had its nest under the roof of a building and was restlessly moving in and out of its muddy nest.

White Stork Nestlings
Eurasian Collared Dove

Gulls and Shrikes

There were common birds like Northern Lapwings and Common Starlings on the way. I was curiously observing the area for new birds. Soon there was a shrike perched on a small bush and i was excited to see that. It was a Red-backed Shrike, a new bird to our list. It was more of a brownish backed bird. David told us that it is a very common bird in the area. There was a group of Black-headed Gulls and Mediterranean Gulls. When Black-headed Gulls are spotted alone, their head might look black but in comparison with Mediterranean Gulls, they looked brownish. I feel the name Black-headed will be more apt for Mediterranean Gulls. In contrast to black those gulls had a red beak, red leg and a red eye ring which made them so adorable.

Red-backed Shrike

David stopped at a place and told us that there we can expect to see Lesser Grey Shrikes. As he said we saw a pair of shrikes sitting on a bush. There were few more shrikes around. Whenever I see this bird, the first thing I think of is, its way of keeping the food. Insects, lizards, small snakes and also sometimes baby birds will become its prey. The genus Lanius meaning is butchering, which it got by its impaling behavior. There were Red-backed Shrikes too around the area.

On a small dune further, there was a group of Jackdaws. When we scanned through the area, there were some raptors too. Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and a juvenile White-tailed Eagle were also shared the place with the Jackdaws.

Rollers and Bee-eaters

Kiskunsag National Park is famous for European Rollers and Bee-eaters. David turned towards a small muddy road that ended near a small lake. On the way we saw a Roller sitting on an electric wire. That was a lifer too. There were lot of Bee-eaters nesting in the mud holes. It was always fascinating to see how fast they catch the flies and come back to the same position. From nowhere a Hoopoe arrived and showed us its beautiful crest. It might had alarmed by our presence.That was midsummer day and lakes were almost dry. “In April this place was filled with lot of birds” David said that by pointing at the lone Lesser Ringed Plover. In another lake, which was still managed to keep some water, we spotted handful of water birds such as Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Great-crested Grebe, Common Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Northern Lapwing etc.

European Roller
European Bee-eater
Bee-eater in flight

OWL Spotting

We were interested in spotting an owl. David took us around an old building. I was curiously looking at the darkness through the windows and then there he was. A Little Owl was peeping at the windowsill. With all the excitement, i started to shout like owl, owl. I was worried that, it might flew away before David and Anoop notices it. Luckily they both saw this small bird and managed to get some pictures as well.

Little Owl

Fishpond

Later in the afternoon, we went near a fishpond and heard of many warblers. In the water there were Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Eurasian Curlew etc., A Little Bittern made its journey back and forth and was a feast to the eye. There was also a Penduline Tit nesting just beside the walkway.

Penduline Tit in it’s nest
Penduline Tit

Red-footed Falcons

Then we drove towards a village which had some rook nests previously and then it was occupied by Red-footed Falcons. These Falcons had travelled from far Africa just to breed there. They don’t build nest on their own but use the nests of Rooks and other Crovids. As they breed in colony we were lucky to see many breeding pairs in the same area. There was also a nest of Common Wood Pigeon nearby.

Red-footed Falcon Female
Red-footed Falcon male
Common Wood Pigeon

Great Bustard

As the sun moving westwards, we had to take the way back towards Budapest. Our guide was very keen to show us a Great Bustard and he was continuously searching for it. Then finally David spotted this big guy. That Great Bustard was camouflaged among the dried grass and hay on an empty field. He was so far that we could barely see him in our binoculars and had to spot through the telescope. At last, he rose to the sky and flew towards us as if to show how magnificent he is. We could take some pictures even with the low light.

Great Bustard

We stopped one more time near the village Buyi to try our luck with Syrian Woodpecker. After searching for a while we spotted a pair. The male bird flew from a tree and sat on a wire exposing himself to us. It was lacking a black band under the eye and was indeed a Syrian woodpecker. As a last spot we stopped near a forest and walked a bit. Black Redstart, Eurasian Nuthatch, Spotted  Flycatcher and also Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were added to our list of the day.

Syrian Woodpecker Male bird
Black Redstart Male bird
Spotted Flycatcher

Bird checklist

1. Bank Swallow
2. Barn Swallow
3. Black Redstart
4. Black-headed Gull
5. Black-winged Stilt
6. Common Buzzard
7. Common Chaffinch
8. Common House-Martin
9. Common Pochard
10. Common Redshank
11. Common Sandpiper
12. Common Tern
13. Common Wood-Pigeon
14. Eurasian Blackbird
15. Eurasian Blackcap
16. Eurasian Collared-Dove
17. Eurasian Curlew
18. Eurasian Golden Oriole
19. Eurasian Hoopoe
20. Eurasian Jackdaw
21. Eurasian Kestrel
22. Eurasian Linnet
23. Eurasian Magpie
24. Eurasian Marsh-Harrier
25. Eurasian Moorhen
26. Eurasian Penduline-Tit
27. Eurasian Skylark
28. Eurasian Spoonbill
29. Eurasian Thick-knee
30. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
31. Eurasian Wigeon
32. European Bee-eater
33. European Goldfinch
34. European Greenfinch
35. European Robin
36. European Roller
37. European Starling
38. European Stonechat
39. European Turtle-Dove
40. Ferruginous Duck
41. Gray Heron
42. Graylag Goose
43. Great Bustard
44. Great Cormorant
45. Great Crested Grebe
46. Great Egret
47. Great Spotted Woodpecker
48. Great Tit
49. Green Sandpiper
50. Hooded Crow
51. House Sparrow
52. Imperial Eagle
53. Lesser Gray Shrike
54. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
55. Lesser Whitethroat
56. Little Bittern
57. Little Egret
58. Little Grebe
59. Little Owl
60. Little Ringed Plover
61. Mallard
62. Mediterranean Gull
63. Mute Swan
64. Northern Lapwing
65. Northern Shoveler
66. Northern Wheatear
67. Pied Avocet
68. Purple Heron
69. Red-backed Shrike
70. Red-footed Falcon
71. Red-necked Grebe
72. Reed Bunting
73. Ring-necked Pheasant
74. Rock Pigeon
75. Rook
76. Ruff
77. Spotted Flycatcher
78. Spotted Redshank
79. Syrian Woodpecker
80. Tawny Pipit
81. White Stork
82. White Wagtail
83. White-tailed Eagle

 

6 Replies to “Birdwatching in Kiskunsag National Park, Hungary

  1. I visited the area earlier in the season before the Rollers etc had arrived. Regarding the misnomed gulls, in Danish and Swedish the Mediterranean Gull is called “Blackheaded”. So the name is a bit closer to reality.

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