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  • Photograph of Common Cranes

    Common Cranes by Simon Colenutt.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Hungary

    Birds - Summer

    Pygmy Cormorant, Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-footed and Saker Falcons, Great Bustard, (Eurasian) Eagle and Ural Owls, and Aquatic Warbler. Also a chance of Great Snipe.

    Ducks including Ferruginous, (Great) Bittern, Little Bittern, Great White Egret, (Black-crowned) Night Heron, Purple and Squacco Herons, Glossy Ibis, (Eurasian) Spoonbill, White and Black Storks, Montagu’s Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Common Crane, passage migrant and nesting shorebirds including Stone Curlew (Eurasian Thick-knee), Black-winged Stilt and Collared Pratincole, Black, Whiskered and White-winged (Black) Terns, Little and Long-eared Owls, Golden (European) Bee-eater, (European) Roller, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, woodpeckers including Black, Grey-headed, Syrian and White-backed, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, (Eurasian) Golden Oriole, Reedling, Long-tailed (white-headed form) and Penduline Tits, Barred, Great Reed, Moustached, River and Savi’s Warblers, Collared Flycatcher, (White-spotted cyanecula race) Bluethroat, (Common) Nightingale, Rock Bunting and Hawfinch. Also a chance of Corn, Little and Spotted Crakes, and shorebirds such as Marsh Sandpiper.

    Birds - Autumn

    Lesser White-fronted Goose, Pygmy Cormorant, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Great Bustard, Common Crane, and (Eurasian) Eagle and Ural Owls. Also a chance of Red-breasted Goose, Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor, and an outside chance of Great Spotted Eagle.

    Greylag and (Greater/Eurasian) White-fronted Geese, thousands of ducks including Ferruginous, (Great) Bittern, hundreds of Great White Egrets, (Eurasian) Spoonbill, (Eurasian) Marsh Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, (Eurasian) Dotterel and thousands of other shorebirds, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl (sometimes nearly 100 roost in the town of Balmazujvaros), woodpeckers including Black, Grey-headed, Syrian and White-backed, Great Grey Shrike, Reedling, Long-tailed (white-headed form) and Penduline Tits, and Hawfinch. Also a chance of (Taiga) Bean Goose.

    European Souslik. The extensive limestone cave systems in parts of the country, such as in Aggtelek and Bukk National Parks, provide roost sites for a wide variety of bat species including Alcathoe’s, Barbastelle, Bechstein’s, Brandt’s, Geoffroy’s, Mediterranean Horseshoe, Grey Long-eared, Greater and Lesser Mouse-eared, Natterer’s, Pond, Whiskered and even Parti-coloured. Also a chance of Beech Marten.

    Green Tree Frog, Fire Salamander, Yellow-bellied Toad and Alpine Newt.

    There are nearly 200 species of butterfly including Camberwell Beauty, Clouded Apollo, lots of fritillaries, Common and Hungarian Gliders, Large Copper, Map and Scarce Swallowtail. One place particularly rich in butterflies is Bukk NP and Hills.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Hungary

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Hungary

    During the summer the best time for birds is usually late April to early June, especially the first half of May when most visiting breeding species have usually returned from their wintering grounds and passage migrant shorebirds are moving through. The best time for butterflies is the second half of June. Many of the birds present during the summer can also be seen during late August when hundreds of Red-footed Falcons usually roost at traditional sites. Large flocks of cranes usually arrive from September with peak numbers during October into the first week of November when Red-breasted and Lesser White-fronted Geese become possible.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Hungary

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    Finding Birds in Hungary by D Gosney. Easybirder, 2015 (book and/or DVD).

    Birding in Eastern Europe by G Gorman. WildSounds, 2006.

    The Birds of Hungary by G Gorman. Helm, 1996.

    Crossbill Guides: Hortobagy and Tisza River Floodplain by D Hilbers. Crossbill Guides, 2008.

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.

    Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.

    Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009.

    Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by H Aarnio et al. A & C Black Publishers, 2009.

    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Where to watch birds in Europe & Russia by N Wheatley. Helm, 2000.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Europe? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Hungary

    Many trip reports, some for Hungary, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Hungary. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Hungary' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Hungary

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Hungary

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Hungary

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Hungary include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.