Monday, February 18, 2008

Wallcreeper and woodpeckers

I have just finished my first group guiding of the year. Taking eight nice folks from the UK around central Hungary for a few days. It was cold, but clear and crisp. Wintering and resident birds were the targets and we did well. In the woods and around the wetlands at Tata we saw lots of Greater White-fronted and "eastern" Greylag Geese, a few Bean Geese, various ducks, Pygmy Cormorant, many Great White Egrets, 6 species of woodpecker, big flocks of Fieldfares and Hawfinches. But the highlight here was probably a Wallcreeper foraging in a stone quarry. They really are fantastic birds. After crossing the Danube we explored the Kiskunsag and found a few Great Grey Shrikes, a Little Owl, 28 Great Bustards, and we added several raptors to our list: Merlin, Hen and Marsh Harriers, several Sparrowhawks, 2 White-tailed Eagles and a Rough-legged Buzzard. Later I took the group to a roost of Long-eared Owls, seeing about a dozen, and finally located a pair of Syrian Woodpeckers, making it 7 out of 7 woodpecker species on the route taken. As I said, cold, winter, but good birding all the same.

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