Hortobágy

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.

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Puszta

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 😉

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A weekend in Texel: gulls (VI)

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

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A weekend in Texel: tulips (V)

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)

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A weekend in Texel: Sheep factory (III)

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.

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A weekend in Texel: Arrival (I)

Texel, in the Netherlands, is the first of the Frisian Islands, a series of isles that dot the coast of the North Sea, all the way up to South-West Jutland, in Denmark.

This trip, in the end of April, was a family reunion. Kevin was studying in Delft this year, and my parents spent a week in the region. I joined them for the three-day weekend, meeting them at the airport before driving to Texel. On the way, I was astonished by the sheer number of birds along the road: swans, geese, ducks, coots or grebes were everywhere! At that time, it was still pretty much winter in Finland (chilly weather lingered very late this year), so this abundance was a shock. Oh, and you’ll notice those birds I listed are all waterfowl: that’s because the Netherlands are a wet country. It’s obvious as soon as the plane goes down a little bit: canals, lakes, rivers… there’s water everywhere.

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Return to Suomenlinna

April, this year. After a long winter, days had started to get slightly warmer (not warm yet, but warmer) and longer, and some birds had returned from the south. It had been quite a long time I hadn’t been to my favourite place in Helsinki, so I decided to visit it again.

Black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

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En rød dør

A red door, in Danish. That’s with this expression that our teacher introduced us to both the “ø” sound (a bit like “ö” in Finnish or “eu” or “œ” in French) and the soft “d”, which is for me pretty much like a “l”, except the tongue goes to the bottom of the mouth and not the top. At first, it sounded complicated… after a few months, it still felt complicated, but I also found the whole pronounciation very funny, and I learnt to appreciate it.

Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

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