The following morning the sun was shinning as I drove for about an hour in to the small village of Hortobagy to get my permit to visit the bird watching sites in the area. I hadn't bothered with local currency at all in Bulgaria or Romania, paying for everything with a credit card and in Bulgaria they had been happy for payment in Euros. The visitor centre required Hungarian Forints for their payment so I had to withdraw cash, I had no idea what the exchange rate was and thought I was getting the equivalent of about £50 but withdrew over £300 by mistake, anyway I had plenty to pay for my permit which was 3000 Forints for a week pass which was about £7.50.
Hortobagy is an area of Hungarian Steppe grassland, which floods in the winter, with various fish ponds. In winter it is good for geese, wildfowl and birds of prey and in summer it is home to a large population of Red-footed Falcons and a range of steppe and marshland birds, it's also a reliable place to see Saker Falcon.
I headed for a small wooded area which my permit gave me access to and which held a large rookery and many pairs of Red-footed Falcon. I would guess there were at least 30 pairs but there could have been many more. Standing by the wood all you can hear is the cawing of the Rooks and the high pitched shrieks of Red-footed Falcons. If you want to see Red-footed Falcon, and get fantastic views this is the place to go.
The ponds hold a variety of water birds; Squacco and Purple Herons as well as the egrets, Marsh Harriers are constantly in view plus marsh terns with all three species around, numbers varied and I got the impression birds were moving through, Golden Orioles around the car park and a good range of wetland warblers with a handful of Great Reed, plenty of Reed and Sedge and quite a few Savi's Warblers and there is also a population of Moustached which I was keen to see.
|Penduline Tit - male|
|Bearded Tit - female|
|Caspian Gull - adult|
|Saker on pylons and a crop which just about shows the bird!|
Once I got near Budapest it was dual carriageway which continued through Austria, Germany, Belgium and France until I finally arrived at the Channel Tunnel.
I arrived home in Darley Dale at around 8pm on Saturday 7th May having driven just short of 10,000 miles and visited 12 different countries, a fantastic trip. Hopefully I can complete the second half of the trip to the Baltic States and Scandinavia next Spring!
I'll add in some of the scenic shots and other wildlife, particularly butterflies during the next few weeks.
Pam's mum, Barbara, passed away quietly in her sleep late on the 6th May, we will all miss her, she would have loved to have seen the photos from the trip.
|The final route including return to UK|