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Hungary: birding, birdwatching (Eastern Europe)

Hungary birding, birdwatching (Eastern Europe)
HOW MANY DOTTEREL MAKE A TRIP?
(A történet azt bizonyítja: tudunk mi magyarok különlegességekkel és udvariassággal szolgálni, s ígérni olyasmit – szépet, ritkát, gyönyörűt – amit be is tartunk! Az EcoTOURS munkatársai a ritka madár, a Dotterel jelenlétét ígérték, s mutattak is belőle egyszerre 109-et!)
I had always been desperate to see Dotterels; so much so that I organised a journey across Europe in search of them! Our boys at Ecotours had promised us at least a dozen at the end of August when Dotterel make their regular migration stopover in the Puszta, the Great Hungarian Plain.
More desert-like than the Serengeti, but with the same big, open azure skies. Dry saline lakes, with picturesque well heads looking like lazy giraffes silhouetted against the cloudless sky. Hazy ranches spread over the sea of waving golden grasses. This was the unlikely habitat of Charadrius morinellus. Even the Latin name is magical.

This elusive bird sought by many has an unusual lifestyle. For example a female Dotterel having laid her eggs say in Scotland,leaves her smaller mate to brood her eggs while she joins other Dotterel in Scandinavia where she woos another mate and lays a second brood! It?s always the quiet ones!

August 23rd, 39 degrees Celsius and our Hungarian friend was on his mobile to the Hortobagy park ranger. Had they arrived yet? Yes! Eight had been seen that very morning. We spent 3 sunny hours searching the short parched stubbly grassland. The temperature made pleasant by the gentle breeze which always wafts across the Great Plain; the westernmost stretch of the Asian Steppe. And then we saw them? more than 100 Dotterel, torpid and totally approachable. They decorated the baked mud furrows of the farm track. We counted and recounted. They sat in three groups (trips?) totalling 109~ what a spectacle! Many differing states of plumage but all equally handsome; the white eye stripe joining behind the head to appear like a jaunty ANZAC cap! Some were actually asleep in the sun; others head cocked checking the sky for raptors, totally unconcerned by humans a mere 5 metres away. We enjoyed walking amongst them for over an hour until a passing bird of prey ?spooked? them into flight. Then they split into their separate ?trips? and flew off across the Puszta. We later heard the maximum count reached 162. So how many Dotterel would make your trip?!

Shena Maskell
ECOTOURS Tour Consultant (UK)
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EcoTOURS WEBSITE: Birding, birdwatching Eastern Europe, Hungary

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