Friday, 17 August 2012

Back from Hungary

Just a short post to explain a gap in posts. I was in the centre of Europe, in landlocked Hungary, on a Naturetrek holiday. Going on these organised trips is a relatively new thing for me: I used to see them as too expensive and also I valued independence in choosing where to go and what to do; but getting all the cumbersome and difficult arrangements made for you is a big plus and from a nature point of view, it helps a lot if you're going to be in a country for just a week or so to have a guide who knows exactly where the best spots are.

On the whole I was keener to see dragonflies on this trip than birds, as they offered a lot more scope for new species. In the end I saw a huge range of birds including both reasonably likely "lifers" - Great Bustard and Saker Falcon - and many other excellent birds - Roller; Bee-eater; Middle Spotted, Syrian and Black Woodpeckers; Wryneck; Red-footed Falcon; White-tailed Eagle; Cattle Egret; Squacco Heron; Pygmy Cormorant; both storks (17 Black Storks in one flock); Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes; Short-toed Treecreeper and many others. Five dragonfly species were new for me and masses of butterflies.

Hungary is mostly very flat and rather dry and dusty, with a fascinating mix of architecture and a language completely impervious to most other Europeans. It has few cats, many bicycles (old-fashioned ones), many attractive churches (Catholic, protestant and a few Orthodox) and a lot of red wine.

The natives are friendly.

Nonetheless, I was delighted to re-establish relations with the sea, the cat and the British pub.

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