Presentation of the Hortobagy
The Hortobágy National Park was founded in 1973 with an area of 52,000 hectares and was up to 82,000! Hectares expanded. The Ramsar area with an area of approx. 32,000 hectares was recognized as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1979 of great international importance. In 1999 the park was included in the world heritage.
90% of all native bird species are found here. You have to imagine this. Gigantic! Of course, a lot of migratory birds, so that never all bird species are there at once. There are rare and strictly protected animal species to be found such as great bustards, bog ducks and red-footed falcons
Tag 1. On the way to the meeting point
On the way in Hungary we already see the first birds flying.
A colony of red hawks awaited us here. Hardly to be found in northern Europe, so stop, twitch the camera and take pictures. The light is catastrophic but we can still find a way. Lower the aperture and increase the exposure. Something's going on. Hopefully.
Appearance of the red hawk:
The red chalk hawk (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon that lives primarily in the Mediterranean region and Central Asia. It resembles a kestrel and should not be confused with its regional name Rüttelfalke. No subspecies are described.
Red hawks are primarily residents of open, dry, warm landscapes such as steppes or semi-deserts, but they also inhabit extensively used cultivated land. They feed mainly on insects and other arthropods, but also on small vertebrates. The animals migrate long distances and overwinter in sub-Saharan Africa. In size and appearance, the species is similar to the kestrel. In all clothes, both sexes of the red hawk have very light, whitish claws, these are black in the kestrel. With a body length of 29-32 centimeters, the red chalk falcon is somewhat smaller than the kestrel, the tail appears more wedge-shaped due to the somewhat elongated central feathers. On the underside, the tail is lighter than that of the kestrel; it ends in a relatively wide, white-lined end band. The dotted lines on the underside of the abdomen appear more punctiform or ring-shaped in the red hawk. In the male, the upper side of the wing is reddish-brown, in contrast to the kestrel, however, without black spots. The male's head is slate gray. From the bow of the wing to the inner arm wings, a slate-gray band can also be seen on the upper wing, which is missing in the male kestrel. The females are only slightly larger and heavier than the males, the weight of the birds varies between 130 and 200 grams.
Tag 1. At Puszta Eldorado
In the afternoon, after a warm welcome and a drink (pálinka) with a snack, we went straight to the forest photo hut. Since the temperatures for May were well below the average, we hoped that something would be going on.
Please find attached the photos with the names of the species.
Boat trip on the Tisza sea
A little theory.
Lake Tisza with 127 km2 is the only lake in Hungary where motor boats are allowed and the largest reservoir. After Lake Balaton, this is the second lake in Hungary. You will find untouched nature around the Tisza. Lake Tisza has a unique fish, bird and game reserve and is a protected area. Many people come here because of the special nature. Not far away is Hortobagy, the largest puszta in Hungary. You go to the beautiful city of Eger, to the wine town of Tokaj, to the Bukk Mountains. Budapest is 150 km away.
On the lake.
We are finally in paradise! Those were my first thoughts how I could look at this sea. Only from the water's edge it had made a powerful impression on me. No noise, just splashing water and bird calls. Bird calls from all directions! Nice calm sunny weather awaited us in an electric boat trip led by Sjors the owner of Pustzawildlife. Together with my brother we got ourselves ready in the boat, the cameras adjusted, let's go!
The first birds we saw were gray herons, then my surprise came. The night heron, never seen before. And away from the water, the birds behave very differently. We are looked at just like us and the escape behavior is much later. So more opportunities to take pictures.
A magnificent nature and many species that awaited us, such as the black tern, bog duck and white-bearded tern.
Pictures that are photographed flat over the water leave a completely different impression than normal. The depth effect is a dream, the colors come into their own as if you were sitting in the boat yourself looking at the pictures.
In the following photo album you can see the varieties of Tiszameer
Red-footed falcon colony
A small representative of the real falcons
After our photo tour over the Tisza, we have a short time to process our impressions with the many bird calls and a good coffee with Pálinka.
But not for long, it goes on. In the Hortobagy we are invited to observe a forest consisting mainly of acacias and a colony of horse-footed falcons. With a bit of luck we can still photograph a couple mating. Since it has become quite warm in the meantime, we have to be careful that we stand properly with the sun behind us, and take photos in the forest as much as possible to prevent air shimmer. Do not take photos over the adjoining open Pusztage area. I can only say impressive. I've never seen so many red-footed falcons. A shout, a movement. Hawks are constantly flying overhead on the hunt, driving away enemies who come too close to their nests. Just wonderful to watch. Of course there is also photography. My brother already took the first pictures when I was still impressed when I set up my tripod. Then found the first couple who pretend it's about to happen. And yes, the first pictures of the pairing are in the box.
General information about the red-footed falcon
The upper side of adult males is dark blue-gray. Usually this shade of gray is a little darker in the head area, especially around the eyes. The arm and hand wings are lighter silvery-gray on the upper side, which creates a striking contrast to the dark upper wing ceilings. The underside of the bird is also slate gray with the exception of the lower abdomen, the under tail-covers and the plumage of the legs ("pants"), which are deeply reddish brown in color. Also striking are the iron oxide red eye ring and the equally colored wax skin. The beak is blue-gray and darkens towards the tip, the claws are very light, only their tips are dark gray. The legs and toes are salmon red. Adult females are very different from males. Their upper side is lighter slate gray, often also slightly brown gray with distinct, dark gray banding. The tail is slightly lighter than the upper plumage and has some dark bands. The subterminal tape (compare delivery) is almost black and slightly wider, the tips of the control springs are dirty white or cream-colored. The neck, the upper part of the head and the entire underside are bright brownish-orange. The closed distribution area of the species extends from Hungary eastwards to the Baikal area.
The abdominal plumage shows indistinct, black longitudinal dots. The cheeks and throat are white. The black eye mask, which extends into a short strip of beard towards the cheeks, is striking. The eye ring and the wax skin are bright orange. Legs and toes are deeply orange, the claws light (yellow) with a dark tip. Juvenile red-footed falcons are not always easy to identify using field ornithology. Its top is matt dark brown and looks a bit scaly. The wing feathers are dark, but do not contrast very clearly with the rest of the upper plumage. The underside is light, the color varies between pale orange and pale brown, the arm and hand wings are gray-brown with clear light stripes, as in adult females. The tail is clearly banded and has a broad, dark subterminal band. The head and vertex are light brown or brownish-orange and clearly delicately dashed. The eye mask and beard are brown, wax skin and dark circles are yellow-orange. The legs and toes are pale yellow. Texts from Wikipedia https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotfußfalke