Hortobágy National Park was the ultimate goal of my trip to Hungary. I had heard about the place several times in the past, and more recently, the WP Big Year birders dubbed it the “best birding site in Europe”. A visit to Hortobágy was already planned when I read this last comment, but it got me really excited. A day in the puszta was a nice introduction to birding in Hungary, and I expected wonders in this second national park.
I was not disappointed.
The Puszta is the Hungarian Great Plain, the region of endless horizons, and of sunny and dry days too. What I imagined was wide grass fields with Great bustards (Otis tarda) at every corner, but it turned out that most of the plain is nowadays cultivated. I know this should not have surprised me, but still, I was disappointed. Oh, and there are only a few bustards left…
Still, in this desert remain a few protected areas, sheltering some remnants of the past from human lust. Our destination, after leaving Szeged, was Kardoskúti Fehértó, the White Lake of Kardoskút. Marci had some friends of his parents there who planned to rent houses in the plains. That’s how we found ourselves in a big cold mansion in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and in the distance, a farm. As we arrived, a red moon rose to greet us.
This picture was taken by my friend, like a few others in the article. Pay him a visit and follow his Facebook page, it’s worth it 😉
The third largest city in Hungary, Szeged lies in the Hungarian steppe close to the Serbian and Romanian borders, at the confluence of the Tisza and Maros rivers. Marci and I travelled there on my fourth day in the country, we made a short break in the city before moving east. Szeged is often called the “city of sunshine”, and it was sunny indeed when we were there.
After our visit to Budapest, I would like to introduce you to someone.
In May, I went to Hungary to visit my friend Marci. He and his girlfriend Linda had visited me in Copenhagen last year, and had since then asked me times and again when I would go to Budapest. Since I had no idea about my future, I dared not plan something that could conflict with a potential job, so I kept delaying… until I landed this job at RELEX, one that leaves me a lot of freedom, as I’ve mentioned in the past (we’re hiring, by the way 😉 ). It was about time to go, so I planned this trip for the upcoming spring. 10 days, that was probably too much to spend in Budapest only, but luckily Marci had many surprises and half-surprises in store for me.
But let’s start with the capital.
I don’t have so much to say, so I will try a new format for this article. I will follow the photo-log layout used by kirilson in his own posts, basing my tale on the pictures instead of having them complementing the words. I hope you’ll like it; please do not hesitate to share your thoughts on the idea.
EDIT: now that I written it all, I realize I actually had a lot to say. Sorry, not sorry 😀
Of course I saw the Parliament, maybe the most iconic building in the city. It’s seen here from the other side of the Danube, but we’ll have more occasions to get acquainted 😉
Too soon came the end of this trip. On Monday morning, the sun stayed hidden as we cleaned the house and visited the small harbour of Oudeschild. There was nothing to see there save for some impressive construction work, and shortly after we found ourselves waiting for the ferry under a drizzle. Noone fed the bird on the trip back, but gulls kept playing in the wind, following the ship without a wingbeat.
Young gull, Herring or Lesser black-backed
Most of our day was devoted to birdwatching along the Utopia wetland, a large area made of sand and water that hosts lots of geese, waders and spoonbills. The path is restricted to pedestrians and bikers, therefore birding is quite relaxed, and the distance still allows some quality observations; I was happy to show some spoonbills to the whole family, especially when one started to fish right in front of us.
Brant goose (Branta bernicla)
For our second day in Texel, I managed to find a driver for the early morning. I couldn’t drive the rental car, so my dad came with me to the south-western corner of the island, the rising sun engulfing all land in its golden rays.
We started this sunny day by a visit to the beach. It was not so warm along the shore, especially with the wind blowing hard, so we only walked in the sand, jackets and gloves on. There were people of all ages, surfers, and even a carriage pulled by two horses. Over the sea, I spotted sea birds travelling north, following the shoreline like they often do.