Each hide we visited is constructed and maintained by local park ranger Istvan Bartol, who prides himself in making sure everyone gets the best from their visit. Having been collected from the airport at midday, by late afternoon I was settled into the comfortable rural accommodation and promptly whisked off to one of the infinity hides, where many of the local passerines come to drink and bathe. Not only that but a nest box, again made by Istvan, had a late nesting adjacent to the hide, the inhabitants of which could be photographed coming and going with grubs to the nest hole. Other highlights included nightingale, hawfinch and red-backed shrike.
The next day started with a morning session in a tower hide constructed to overlook a colony of red-footed falcons, one pair still with mature chicks to feed, as did a pair of kestrels, which made for some very entertaining photography. European roller and lesser-grey shrike could also be photographed from here. It’s possible to shoot from three sides of the hide, so suitable for two, possibly three people. As with each day on the trip, the early starts are rewarded with an ample late breakfast and plenty of time from around midday to late afternoon to recharge your batteries - those in the camera, and your own!
The late afternoon/early evening session this day was spent with a local European bee-eater colony. These birds unusually have their nest holes in the ground, rather than in a bank. The position of the hide meant the afternoon sessions here have the subject backlit, so it’s worth doing a morning and afternoon with these beautiful birds.
We also saw and photographed brown hare and a family of beautiful golden orioles came tantalisingly close, but unfortunately didn’t break cover on this occasion.
Over the next few days, I tried various waterside hides, one on a large lagoon, another in flood meadows and another alongside a reed-lined channel. The low level position in the hides, allowed eye-to-eye photography of various species of herons, egrets, waders, ducks and even spoonbill, spotted crake and water rail.
Other highlights from these hides included whiskered tern, little bittern, marsh sandpiper and ferruginous duck. I got the chance to try another one of the infinity pools on my last afternoon, which seemed pretty quiet, but all became clear when a sparrowhawk made a brief appearance, staying just long enough fore me to get a well-lit shot against a background in total shadow. Turtle doves were all around, but never got their nerve back to come down with the raptor around.
All in all, for a quick taster of this area ‘out of season’, I for one am very keen to get back in 2019 to see what it’s like at the ‘right time of year’!
Join Ashley and Istvan on our Spring Photography tour to Hungary in 2019.