Hungary    has    three    main    geographical    zones:    Transdanubia    west    of    the Danube,   the   Northern   Hills   from   the   Danube   Bend   to   the   north-east   corner of   the   country   and   the   Great   Plain   east   of   the   Danube   and   south   of   the Northern   Hills.   Visits   in   May   to   the   most   famous   part   of   the   Great   Plain, Hortobagy,   and   the   easternmost   part   of   the   Northern   Hills,   Zempleni,   gives a good introduction to the rich and varied Hungarian bird fauna.
Hortobagy    offers    a    mixture    of    puszta    grasslands    and    large    fishpond complexes.     The     fishponds     are     crowded     by     Red-crested     Pochard, Ferruginous     Duck,     Red-necked     Grebe,     Black-necked     Grebe,     Pygmy Cormorant,   Little   Bittern,   Night   Heron,   Squacco   Heron,   Little   Egret,   Purple Heron,   Glossy   Ibis,   Spoonbill,   White-tailed   Eagle,   Spotted   Eagle,   Spotted Crake,    Little    Crake,    Whiskered    Tern,    Black    Tern,    White-winged    Tern, Kingfisher,   Bluethroat,   Great   Reed   Warbler,   Icterine   Warbler,   Bearded   Tit and   Penduline   Tit.   Large   numbers   of   tundra-breeding   waders   stage   and   a few   Great   Black-headed   Gulls   might   summer.   Red-footed   Falcons   breed   in Rook    colonies    in    the    coppices,    Bee-eaters    together    with    Sand    Martins breed   in   gravel   pits   and   there   is   at   least   one   pair   of   White   Stork   in   each village.   Great   Egrets   feed   in   the   grasslands,   Golden   Orioles   and   Turtle Doves   are   present   everywhere,   while   Rollers   and   Lesser   Grey   Shrikes   perch on   telephone   wires.   In   the   drier   parts,   one   can   with   some   luck   spot   Long- legged   Buzzard,   Short-toed   Eagle,   Eastern   Imperial   Eagle,   Great   Bustard, Little   Owl,   Montagu’s   Harrier   and   Short-toed   Lark,   and   on   a   lucky   day   a Saker   hunting   Sousliks.   Large   numbers   of   Hungarian   Grey   Cattle,   Water Buffalo,   Rakka   sheep   and   hairy   pigs   feed   in   the   grasslands,   and   of   wild mammals   we   have   found   Steppe   Polecat,   European   Souslik   as   well   as   Golden Jackal.
Eastern Hungary 14 – 22 May 2016 This   tour   is   planned   more   as   a   photo   safari   than   a   species   race   but   even   so we   hope   to   find   large   numbers   of   birds   of   at   least   150   species.   We   explore two   areas   more   in   detail,   one   in   the   puszta   and   one   in   the   mountains;   a concept   used   with   success   in   1998,   1999,   2001,   2005,   2010,   2012   and   2015. There   will   be   ample   time   to   enjoy   also   the   flowers,   butterflies   and   smells, as   well   as   the   peaceful   traditional   farming.   Both   Hortobagy   and   Zempleni are   ideal   for   those   being   alert   in   the   morning,   with   a   rich   variety   of   birds within    walking    distance.    That    will    be    kept    in    mind    when    booking    our accommodation.   A   few   shorter   breaks   will   be   done   for   other   activities   than bird-watching. 14   May:    Arrival   day.   Hopefully,   after   checking   in   at   our   accommodation,   the time will allow some hours of birding in the Hortobagy area. 15–17 May:   Day trips in the Hortobagy area. 18 May:   This day will be used for the drive from Hortobagy to Zempleni. 19–20 May:   Day trips in the Zempleni area. 21   May:    After   some   final   birding   in   the   Zempleni,   this   day   will   be   used   for the drive to an accommodation close to the airport.   22 May:   Departure day. The   (airport-to-airport)   price   of    980   EUR    for   this   nine-day   tour   includes   the costs   for   car,   fuel,   driver/guide,   accommodation   in   twin-bedded   rooms, breakfast,   coffee/tea   break,   picnic   lunch,   evening   meal,   entrance   fees, check-list   and   after-tour   report.   The   tour   is   planned   for   five   participants. Single-room   accommodation   slightly   rises   the   price   but   the   exact   amount depends   on   the   final   group   size   and   when   the   accommodation   can   be   booked - the earlier the accommodation can be booked the better we can get.
Zempleni   offers   a   varied   landscape   with   valleys,   low   mountains,   woods,   small   fields, scattered    villages,    brooks,    pastures    and    glades,    housing    a    very    rich    breeding fauna:     Black     Stork,     Honey-Buzzard,     Short-toed     Eagle,     Montagu’s     Harrier, Goshawk,   Lesser   Spotted   Eagle,   Eastern   Imperial   Eagle,   Booted   Eagle,   Golden Eagle,   Corn   Crake,   Ural   Owl,   Nightjar,   Wryneck,   Grey-headed   Woodpecker,   Green Woodpecker,   Black   Woodpecker,   Syrian   Woodpecker,   White-backed   Woodpecker, Middle    Spotted    Woodpecker,    Lesser    Spotted    Woodpecker,    Grey    Wagtail, Bluethroat,   River   Warbler,   Barred   Warbler,   Red-breasted   Flycatcher,   Collared Flycatcher, Hawfinch, and so on. The total number of bird taxa recorded during earlier tours amounts to 240. All    photos    were    taken    by    Volker    Schoessler    during    earlier    tours    to    eastern Hungary, most of them in 2015.