The Balaton

March, my first trip to Hungary in the Balaton area

The Kis-Balaton used to be the largest southwestern bay and with its extensive marshland has been a natural biological filter of the Balaton for 2000 years. Deposits from the Zala tributary, peatification and massive human interventions since the beginning of the 19th century led to the separation from Lake Balaton. Large parts of the old Kis-Balaton disappeared. From once 60 km² of water area only half a km² remained. This remaining area was placed under nature protection in 1952. However, the marshland lost its natural purification and protection function for Lake Balaton and the famous heron colonies were severely threatened.

From the middle of the 20th century, Lake Balaton slowly began to silt up and lost its biological balance. The negative change in water quality was most noticeable in the shallow bay of Keszthely, so in the summer of 1966 the high inorganic nutrient load of the Zala led to a blue-algae bloom. In order to reduce the emission values ​​again, the renaturation of the Kis-Balaton started in 1976.

Today the Kis-Balaton expands again to a length of 22 kilometers with a storage capacity of 28 million cubic meters. Its water level is one to two meters above that of Lake Balaton. As part of the Kis-Balaton protection system, the two inner lakes (Fenéker and Hídvéger basins) are again a natural, biological sump filter for the water of Lake Balaton. An expansion of the protected area is planned until 2012.

The area is unique in Europe with its air and light, its flora and fauna. In the network of European natural habitats, it is an important ecological, species-rich area. Numerous, also (strictly) protected species of fish, plants, reptiles and birds live in the boggy wetland.

In 1979 the Kis-Balaton was included in the Ramsar Convention for the "Protection of Internationally Significant Wetlands". Since 1997 it has been part of the Balaton-Oberland National Park (Balaton-Felvidéki Nemzeti Park). It belongs to the Natura 2000 protected area system of the European Union. Of the total 18,000 hectare nature-protected area of ​​the Kis-Balaton, over 1,400 hectares are specially protected. This area may only be accessed with a professional tour guide. The park forest (Vörsi Parkerdő) with the Kis-Balaton island Mariaasszony near Vörs, the Milanenburg island (Kányavári-sziget) and the buffalo reserve (Bivaly reservatum) near Balatonmagyaród are freely accessible. (Source Wikipedia: Balaton - Wikipedia)

Kis Balaton, a secret place to go

I startet early in the morning with my travel to the kis balaton in Hungary. I will need about 3.5 hours to get there, so I started at 1 am. I arrived at 5 am near the kis balaton, but stopped on a little channel. It was stil pitty dark. Suddenly I heared screaming just about a view meter from me away. There I saw my first eurasian otter in my life and could take some pictures with 2500 iso.

One more rare bird on picture, also the first in my life, is the grey-headed woodpecker male and female. So it was an very succesfull trip!

The next two days I traveled around and below you see the collection. 

My story

Arrived at the small Balaton at 6 o'clock in the morning. Car parked wherever and sometimes on foot. I just put my 100-400mm on my 7D MKII.

The first success within a few minutes. An otter spotted. I was more frightened than he was, he must have heard me much earlier. He really hissed at me! Was probably just having breakfast. (like me) Then saw the first marsh harriers and sea eagles flying. Then I knew I was in the right place. So put on camouflage clothing, all photo equipment with the exception of my macro, and off you go. Well, I was wrong, nothing more going on, the walking distance is far too long. You can walk 15 km here. to run. The hiking trails lead completely around, beautiful, just too far on foot. So it's better with a bike. You can still cycle here.

Then finally found my place. After about an hour, nature got used to me and I was able to take photos. What did I catch on the first day:

White-tailed eagle (sighted 8). Gray woodpecker. (Spotted 2) Marsh harrier male and female. (Black woodpecker sighted) Great spotted woodpecker. Little great spotted woodpecker. Green woodpecker. Little Grebe. Cormorant. Dwarf shark. Fitis. Mute swan. Otter. Coot. (Moorhen sighted). Star. Great crested grebe. Wild duck


The Balaton.

The biggest problem is that you can't just get to the lake. Everything is locked because private land or bathing areas. At this time of year, the bathing and camping sites are not yet open, so you have access to the lake from time to time.

What did i see Unfortunately not much! Except for a few ducks, nothing! Wild duck, teal, mute swan. Not a single photo taken.

Then I turned off the B7 on a small "Lacke" side of Lake Balaton called Fonyöd. I put myself in camouflage again and relaxed. Observe nature and see how nature reacts. Within 10 minutes I was surprised what was going on. I took the photos in peace because they only discovered me at the very last second thanks to camouflage clothing.

Marsh harriers. Common buzzard. Black-headed gull. Wild duck. Black stork (just pulled over). Great Egret


Day 3.

So off to the Kiskunságy National Park.

Arrived in the afternoon at around 3 p.m., I first took a break. Packing your camera up every day at 5 p.m. and only at 7 p.m. makes you tired.

It only starts at 8 a.m. the next day. I have organized a guide so that I don't spend hours searching. I have planned a very well organized tour of about 4 hours to see what there is to see. Since this park has 3 different habitats (sandy soil, salt soil and wetlands) the biodiversity is great.

What did i see:

Bog duck. Pintail. Gray heron. Great Egret. Little Egret. Redshank. Avocets. Lapwing. (Black woodpecker sighted) Marsh harrier. Hen harrier. White-tailed eagle. Kestrel. Shelduck. Greylag goose. Great curlew.

It applies to the notification that permits are required for all protected areas in Hungary. Entering these areas without a permit can result in fines of up to € 15,000! I very much welcome this approach. This prevents nature from being disturbed and the administration can control access to the areas. A great regulation that I was also welcomed in Austria. Dogs are generally not allowed here!

I would like to extend a warm welcome to those responsible at Nemtzi Parke for the permits and the great tours. I'm really looking forward to further cooperation!