Hungary is a country blessed with many great birding sites. Habitats include coniferous & broad-leaved forests, limestone hills, grazing pastures, hand mowed meadows, flood plain woodlands along the Danube, Tisza and other rivers, marshes, salt lakes, vast reed beds, bird friendly fish farms and miles of rough grassland. In the very west on the Austrian border is Lake Fertő, the Hungarian section of the Neusiedlersee, and the woods and marshes of the Hanság. Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Little Crake, Penduline Tit and various Acrocephalus and Locustella warblers are not uncommon here. In the south-west bordering Croatia are the riverine habitats along the Danube at Gemenc and Béda-Karapancsa with flood-plain woods, ox-bow lakes and pools which are part of the Duna-Dráva National Park. The Pacsmag fish-pond system is another good Transdanubian wetland for breeding and passage wildfowl. North of here is the rolling country of Transdanubia dotted with more fish-farms and woodlands and a good region for White-tailed Eagle. At the heart of Transdanubia, at the western end of Lake Balaton, is the famous Kis-Balaton wetland with its herons, egrets, marsh terns, warblers and White-tailed Eagles possible all year round.
Other great wetlands west of the Danube include the Rétszillas fish-ponds, a complex of 14 large fishponds and several smaller ponds with breeding herons and gulls, Ferencmajor fish-ponds and lakes Velence and Tata where in autumn large numbers of Bean Geese gather. In the same region the Vértes Hills hold the usual woodpeckers and raptors. A series of forested hill ranges, including the Gerecse, Pilis, Cserhát, Börzsöny, Aggtelek, Bükk and the Zemplén, run across the north of the country. These are mainly broadleaved and there are Black Stork, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatchers, woodpeckers such as Black, Grey-headed, White-backed and Middle Spotted, Honey Buzzard, Goshawk and Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles. In some areas there are Ural and Eagle Owls, Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting, too. In the north-east at Tokaj is the vast Bodrogflood-plain where the Tisza and Bodrog rivers meet and where in spring rasping Corncrakes and buzzing River Warblers seem to be everywhere and both storks breed and feed.
Nagyiván Puszta, Hortobágy: home to a key population of the globally theatened Aquatic Warbler
South of the northern hills, to the east of the Danube, is the Great Plain. This lowland region is typified by dry and wet grasslands, the so-called "puszta", large fish-pond systems and vast farmlands. Counties such as Heves, Csongrád and Békés all hold Great Bustards, and Red-footed Falcons and Rollers are locally common, but the Great Plain is dominated by two of Hungary's best birding areas: the Hortobágy and the Kiskunság. Breeding birds here include White Stork, Ferruginous Duck, Red-footed and Saker Falcons, Long-legged Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier, Great Bustard, Stone Curlew, Whiskered, Black and White-winged Black Terns, Roller, Tawny Pipit and Lesser Grey Shrike. Wildfowl and shorebird passage is often impressive, over 50,000 Common Cranes pass through in autumn, and in winter most fish-pond systems host White-tailed Eagles. The Hortobágy is also home to a key breeding population of Aquatic Warblers. From spring to autumn the large fish-pond systems at Lake Csaj, Hortobágy, Szeged, Biharugra and the vast expanse of Lake Tisza are alive with birds.
Map of Hungary showing location in Central Europe,
National Parks and major cities
The above is just a brief overview, mentioning some of Hungary's more famous birding areas. The country is littered with good birding sites many of which are covered in more detail in A Guide To Birdwatching In Hungary and Where To Watch Birds in Eastern Europe. Or to ask a question on birding sites email us!