In the safe hands of David Walsh (making his ninth visit to Hungary) and local wildlife expert Gábor Orbán, this single-centre holiday is based at Kondor Eco-Lodge, right in the heart of the lovely Kiskunság National Park which is just 90 minutes from Budapest Airport. We can expect to be treated like family members at the lodge with delicious Hungarian cuisine.
The birdlife of Kiskunság has much in common with Hungary’s more famous Hortobágy National Park but those in the know would say that the Kiskunság has a more varied and prettier landscape making it perfect for an ‘all round’ wildlife holiday. During our stay, we plan to alternate local days with exploration a little further afield, although none of the sites are more than an hour’s drive from our lodge.
The Kiskunság preserves parts of the Eurasian steppe and hosts one of the largest populations of Great Bustards in continental Europe and we will make a special effort to locate this majestic bird. As we look for them, we may encounter Eastern Imperial Eagle or the rare Saker Falcon, which has taken to breeding in nest boxes. Close encounters with the beautiful Red-footed Falcon are another likely highlight and we should have the privilege of seeing this delightful little raptor at a breeding colony.
Our rural lodge has a lovely garden, so there will be lots to keep us occupied during our stay. The fluting of Golden Orioles and the purring of Turtle Doves will be audible from our rooms; Cardinal and Dryad butterflies float along the nearby ride, whilst Dainty and Winter Damselflies frequent the ponds which we can observe from purpose-built photographic hides.
Exploring the grasslands close to the lodge, we can expect to find Rollers and both Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes. Areas of short grasslands are the home of European Sousliks, the ground squirrel of the region, and the main prey of many of the local raptors. Bee-eaters will be calling overhead and we intend to visit a couple of nesting colonies to watch the comings and goings as adult birds bring food for their young.
The park’s fishponds, oxbows and alkaline lakes are alive with birds in June. There are breeding colonies of egrets, herons, Pygmy Cormorants, Spoonbills and Whiskered Terns, whilst Little Bitterns, Great Reed and Savi’s Warblers, Penduline Tits and Bearded Reedlings inhabit the reedbeds.
Areas of forest are home to Honey Buzzard and Black Stork as well as Black, Lesser Spotted and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers. We should find Small, Southern and Willow Emerald Damselflies, while in the woodland clearings, we can search for Map Butterfly and Common Glider and Lesser Purple Emperors frequent the riverine woods along the Tisza.
On one day, we plan to visit the reserve at Lake Kolon where Large White-faced Darter occurs in good numbers. We can also expect to find Southern Migrant and Norfolk Hawkers, Lesser Emperor, Yellow-spotted Emerald, White-tailed Skimmer and Southern Darter. There are also wildflower meadows to explore looking for more butterflies and in June, these can include Nettle-tree Butterfly, Lesser Fiery Copper, Mallow Skipper, Knapweed Fritillary, Chestnut Heath, Short-tailed and Idas Blues, and both Swallowtail and Scarce Swallowtail.
With so many wonderful birds, butterflies and dragonflies on offer, this is a summer tour not to be missed.
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