Monday 3 June 2024

Hungary Day 6 - 23rd May 2024 for Bird's Wildlife & Nature Tours

 Our pre-breakfast walk in Noszvaj saw us knee deep in Hawfinch families while Black Woodpeckers yaffled and the blue skies above tried to lull us into thinking it might actually be a fine day.


Hawfinch - my first ever juvenile - so cute

Song Thrush - Neil Colgate

The well of Atilla the Hun up in the woods

Ground Elder - Aegopodium podagraria

Celery Leaved Buttercup - Ranunculus sceleratus

Ground Elder - Aegopodium podagraria

Water Forget-me-not - Myosotis scorpioides - all around the boggy well area

One Great Spot had fledged but this one had a way to go - Neil Colgate

We headed north through Szilvásvárad (home to the world famous Lipizzan Stud Farm) before negotiating some bureaucratic car parking to get to the road to the high karst of the Olasz-Kapu before setting out on a walk a good mile or so into the mixed Beech woods and wiggling our way through meadows where hundreds of day flying moths and a few Butterflies were to be seen. 

Lipizzan show stadium

Olasz-Kapu - the memorial to the small band of Italian WWI POWs who cut the pass through the rocks here 

It was not warm enough for many but we did get a good look at Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, chocolate brown Woodland Ringlets, almost translucent Clouded Apollos and Fenton's Wood White.

Fenton's Wood White

Fenton's Wood White - Neil Colgate

Woodland Ringlet

Woodland Ringlet

Clouded Apollo

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary

Pretty Marbled - Deltote deceptoria

Mother Shipton - I can do this one!

Ceypha lacunana

Common Heath

Ural Owl was the target as the adults often hunt by day this time of year around the huge grassy karst depressions that form within the trees but it was not to be and not for want of trying. We did find a couple of Buzzards perched up but had to be content with the magnificent experience of simply being there.

A diversion took us into one of the very last pristine virgin Beech forests left in the country with monster trees towering above and so much dead wood, both standing and becoming the loamy forest floor. It smelt of age, natural decay, energised chlorophyll and splendid isolation.  No one spoke loudly, only hushed whispers so as not to disturb the trees.

Black, White-backed and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were all encountered and the songs of Collared Flycatchers and Wood Warblers predominated and echoed among the trees where the periodic sunlight chose to illuminate the forest floor and the Wood Whites danced.

I am not sure what was under here but the Beetles were happy, flies were buzzing and the Roman Snails were moving in!

Red & Black Leafhopper

A small Longhorn sp

Marbled Bush-cricket sp

Pyrochroa serraticornis

Down on the ground we found Bird's Nest and Lesser Butterfly Orchids along with White and probably Broad-leaved Helleborine and other cool plants like Herb Paris, Woodruff, Deadly Nightshade and Sanicle.

Bird's Nest Orchid

Bird's Nest Orchid

Speedwell sp 

 Broad-leaved Helleborine - I suspect

Clammy Campion - Lychnis viscaria

Cypress Spurge

Woodruff and Sanicle leaves


Mountain Clover - Trifolium montanum

Maidenhair Spleenwort sp



Field Pansy - Viola arvensis

Herb Paris - Paris quadrifolia

Kidney Vetch - Anthyllis vulneraria

Lesser Butterfly Orchid

Common Milkwort - Polygala vulgaris

Peltigara sp Lichen

The Owl may have eluded us but it was a memorable, peaceful experience in a sustainably managed woodland with not a soul to be seen and on the way back we found Wolf tracks following Red Deer tracks up the path leaving the imagination to do the rest.

Wolf - very big long print and claws

A final meadow session and then a late lunch back at the van where Marsh Tits, Collared Flycatchers, Tree Pipits and Firecrests kept us company before the first of the much anticipated precipitation appeared.

Stopping on the way back down the winding road gave us a huge view over steep but gently rolling hills covered in mixed trees with visible clearings and open meadows and fields. Other than a radio mast on a distant hill there was quite literally no man made object visible for miles.

Nothing but woodlands and meadows

We opted to try the small quarry at Hór for Butterflies and paused at a vineyard and tree covered hill side on the way.  Common Buzzards were up and a Short-toed Eagle joined them.

We pushed on as the sun was now out strongly but as we arrived, the next thunderstorm arrived with dramatic and exuberant effect and the heavens opened when we were thankfully only ten yards from the van! Oh well.

Once out the other side of the storm we pulled over just south of Noszvaj and scanned around while Godzillanimbus clouds visibly expanded around us. We may not have found a Lesser Spotted Eagle but the landscape of fields, bushes and vineyards around us was full of Skylarks, Woodlarks, Tree Sparrows, Turtle Doves, Bee-eaters, Corn Buntings, Red-backed Shrikes, House Martins, Blackbirds and even a fine male Barred Warbler performing his vertical take off display flight from some plum trees.

Corn Bunting - Neil Colgate

Turtle Dove - Neil Colgate

It was a grand way to finish up our last full day.

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