Austria in spring

14 – 21 May 2005

Leader: Tim Earl


  • Our first walk into the Winden-am-See reed beds when we saw and heard Grasshopper, Savi’s, Reed and Barred warblers, lots of Marsh Harriers and heard the songs of Quail and Cuckoo. Purple Herons and Great Egrets were common.

  • Seeing four Great Bustard ‘Plain Masters’ displaying to six other birds. These to a backdrop of Montagu’s Harriers, Honey and Common Buzzards, reeling Grasshopper Warbler and… see next highlight.

  • Seven Short-eared Owls seen in one day including a pair feeding and displaying beneath and another pair mobbing Buzzards us as we watched the Great Bustards.

  • Peregrine bringing a Woodpigeon for its young and plucking the bird as we watched.

  • Red-backed Shrike which was so tame and close we could hardly focus on it.

  • A Little Ringed Plover with three chicks which were brilliantly cryptic.

  • Four Spoonbills, a male Garganey, two Kingfishers and a Bluethroat close to the hide in Hohenau.

  • Several tree-nesting White Storks in Marchegg.

  • Thousands of Sand Martins warming up after a cool damp night roosting in the reed beds at Breitenbrunn.

  • “It rained raptors – I loved them,” Alice said as we travelled home. These included brilliant prolonged views of Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers, Imperial Eagle carrying prey, Honey and Common Buzzards.

  • Super views of all Europe’s breeding Locustella warblers – Grasshopper, River and Savi’s.


Saturday 14 May

To Neusiedl and ‘the Wendy house’

We had a leisurely start to the day, meeting at Heathrow’s terminal 4 at 8am. The flight left on time arriving at Vienna Airport at 1.30pm local time. After getting the minibus sorted we drove the short distance to Neusiedl-am-See and checked in at the Hotel Wende – the Wendy House.

We fed the inner men and women (applestrudel + tea) before walking a reedy track at Winden-am-See.

What a brilliant start to our birding. We stopped the bus to see a Purple Heron and immediately spotted the first of several Red-backed Shrikes and heard a singing Quail. A little further on our progress was impeded by a Barred Warbler which popped up and sang to us. Later it gave the characteristic sparrow-like trilling alarm call.

It proved impossible to reach the dense reed beds as we were constantly stopping for birds. A female Pied Flycatcher was sharing a tree with a secretive Phylloscopus warbler while a reeling Savi’s Warbler delivered its song from the top of a distant reed stem.

Two Turtle Doves crossed the path in front of us, joined by Greenfinches and the local central European race of Yellow Wagtail, M .f .flava.

Marsh Harriers and Great White Egrets were plentiful as were Barn Swallows and House Martins. Returning to the bus we heard a singing Grasshopper Warbler which revealed itself only as it flew into dense cover.

A slight navigation mistake by Tim proved to be advantageous as we found a couple of male Black Redstarts on roof-tops.

We returned to the hotel pleased with the start of what could be a great holiday.

Sunday 15 May

Tadten Plains and Lange Lacke

A pre-breakfast walk near the hotel got the day off to a great start. Early riser David B had already seen Golden Orioles by the time the rest of us started at 6.30. A fine Blackcap was singing from a bare treetop giving great views but the same could not be said for a serenading Garden Warbler which pushed off before we could locate it.

A strong breeze (which happily dropped during the day) made birding a little tricky but we did pick up the calls of a Syrian Woodpecker which then proceeded to show off its agility, and identification features, for some minutes.

A Great Reed-warbler sang briefly for us along with Eurasian Reed-warbler. Marsh Warblers were singing at the edge of the reed-bed and several Nightingales could also be enjoyed. Sparrows picking around on the road in front of us turned out to be of the delightful Tree variety. And a Song Thrush was located singing from the top of a garden spruce.

A prompt start at 8.30 had us down on the Tadten plains early. It took great resolve to keep our birding stops down to a minimum so that we might see the bustards more easily. Our first (of at least 10) Honey Buzzard was located and while watching it we flushed a nearby pair of Roe Deer.

A call for an owl had us watching from a distance a pair of Short-eared Owls hunting next to the tower-hide we were aiming for. After we had all seen the birds, little realising that they were to be our companions for the next 90 minutes, we got back into the bus and drove to the hide.

Great Bustards were immediately visible and we played owl-like head-swivelling games as we watched these magnificent birds displaying and the owls in the field beneath us. The big male ‘Plain Master’ Bustards were turning themselves inside out as they displayed. This produced the effect of huge white pompoms. These then sailed through the long grass like galleons. The females looked on nonchalantly, seemingly unimpressed, which was certainly not the case for us. Much later in the day we watched them again from a hide on the opposite side of the fields. The males had stopped displaying by then although they were much closer to us.

A Grasshopper Warbler which was reeling about 30 metres away was seen well… so well that we looked down into its gape – which was black – and a Marsh Warbler was holding territory along the ditch beneath the hide we were in, giving great views.

We ended the session with two male and a female Montagu’s Harriers ghosting above the fields making the many Marsh Harriers look like clumsy jumbo-jets by comparison.

Stopping at the Hungarian border we took the short walk across a canal bridge and into a new country, our passports clutched ready for the return ‘inspection’ by friendly but armed border guards. After adding Mute Swan, Cormorant, Goshawk (seen rather briefly) Honey and Common Buzzard, Golden Oriole, Blue Tit and various warblers to our Hungarian bird lists, we returned to Austria only to find that the guards were not interested in checking us out.

We found a Tawny Pipit, presumably resting on migration, and a late wintering Hen Harrier before returning to Andau where we had a snack lunch in a café in the main square which was hosting a children’s fun-fair.

Driving to the nearby Lange Lacke we enjoyed a good walk to a number of hides set up to give views across the lake. It was such a shame that the lake was not there – or at least was so small. A dry winter had left it desperately short of water.

We did see some good birds, however, including a White Stork which was so unafraid of the many people we thought it might be ‘domestic’, which was not the case.

David J saw a Weasel pop across the path and found a Black-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage. A Redshank displayed above us but the hoped-for wader bonanza did not occur. We enjoyed Corn Buntings, Sedge Warblers, another Short-eared Owl, Rooks and many Greylag Geese which had pink bills. These are the eastern race A.a. rubrirostris. Anne and Veronica dipped out of the walk and did a little plant and butterfly watching.

We returned to the hotel for a welcome pre-dinner drink and another good meal.

Monday 16 May

Eisenstadt and Howe Wand

No pre-breakfast walk as we aimed for an earlier start. This was delayed for a few minutes as we searched in vain for a Wryneck which David J had seen and Tim heard before breakfast.

It took little time to reach the Palace at Eisenstadt and we were soon walking the wooded hillside above it. A Nuthatch was the first new bird to be seen, although it was high in a plane tree.

Spotted Flycatchers and singing Blackcaps were seen in good numbers. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were common – at least four were seen well, but we could not find any of their more unusual cousins.

Two pairs of Golden Orioles were seen and heard and a charming pair of Willow Tits endeared themselves to us when the male started feeding the female in courtship. We hoped this would result in more birds for the nest Limosa / Travelling Naturalist groups to visit.

Robin was added to our increasing list as we left the park.

A comfort stop on the S4 motorway towards Weiner Neustadt gave us chance to hear Yellowhammers singing and a Honey Buzzard drifted over.

We reached the Hohe Wand easily. Parking on the first hair-pin bend, next to the landing field for parascenders, we walked through mixed woodland to the sound of Coal Tits and Bonelli’s Warblers until a suitable picnic spot was found.

We had hardly settled when the calls of a Peregrine alerted us to two birds overhead, one carrying a Woodpigeon. It settled on a tree high up the ‘wall’ and proceeded to pluck the prey, feathers drifting away on the wind. Views were difficult but we all eventually saw the bird quite well.

A Goshawk and a Honey Buzzard drifted past (with the parascenders) while we had lunch which time was spent trying to locate a Bonelli’s Warbler singing close by, without success. We did see a Coal Tit, however. Alice saw another Goshawk as we were leaving and a third (all could have been same bird) was sighted later in the afternoon.

W drove up above the ‘high wall’ after lunch and spent a few minutes walking a track which led us through fields of Cowslips, Gentians and Violets, plus a few orchid spikes. David J found a small party of five Red Crossbills which became a large flock when they joined at least 10 others. Mistle Thrush was added to the list with a spectacular bird sitting on top of a fir tree. We were to see another chasing off a Buzzard a little later.

The Gasthof Postl restaurant is well known for its hot chocolate drinks which we enjoyed before setting off back to the hotel. A pair of Ravens was seen as we set off. We arrived in good time at 6.30pm after a most enjoyable day.

Tuesday 17 May

East side of Lake Neusiedl

A 6am start saw some of us on the short drive back to Winden-am-See for a walk into the reed beds. It was a mixed morning – pleasure at seeing 10 singing Savi’s Warblers but disappointment not to hear or see Bittern. Our first Sand Martins and a fly-over Common Tern were compensations.

The day was spent exploring the east side of the lake with some great birds. Our first stop was at a sand quarry just outside Weiden-am-See to look for Bee-eaters. There were many holes in the sand, some occupied by Jackdaws or Tree Sparrows, but no sign was had of the Bee-eaters.

A wet edge to the reeds near Podersdorf had Red-crested Pochard, Little Stint, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, a Ruff and a pair of Gadwall. Highlight though was a Red-backed Shrike which came so close we had difficulty focusing on it. A Barred Warbler singing in a hedge next to a new tower-hide could not be located.

Moving on to Oberstinkersee, we found the main lake dry and covered in a film of salt. There was little water left in the pond opposite, only enough to attract a couple of Avocets and a few Greylags which had been joined by a White-fronted Goose. This bird had a slight limp and may have been ‘pricked’ by gunshot during the winter.

Tim found three Little Ringed Plover chicks just as we left. They were most cryptically marked and made a wonderful picture as they moved around one of the parents.

A great reed / marshy area runs down to the harbour area at Illmitz and after a light snack [Er, what was Tim’s secret ice-cream sundae then – Ed?] we searched for birds finding Purple Herons, Green and Wood Sandpipers and our first Black-winged Stilt, immediately nicknamed Sammy.

Our penultimate stop at Warmsee just outside Apetlon produced a flock of 22 Temminck’s Stints, one Little Stint for contrast, and several Dunlin of the north-eastern race C. a. alpina. Lots of Avocets were on the pond and several flew over us giving an extra moment of delight.

We stopped at the Weiden quarry on the way home, watching a flock of about 20 Bee-eaters fly over the minibus bubbling away when we were about 400 metres from the quarry.

Wednesday 18 May

Hohenau, Rabensburg and Marchegg

Torrential rain greeted us and remained for most of the day but we still managed to find some good birds and even had a walk around the hotel before breakfast. This yielded several Great Spotted and Syrian Woodpeckers including a pair of the latter feeding young in a willow-tree nest-hole.

With some trepidation, and leaving two participants at the hotel for a day off, we set off for Hohenau with a coffee / comfort stop on the way. Luckily one of the few pauses in the rain occurred as we arrived at the high tower observation point looking over a man-made pond and small drainage canal. A group of four Spoonbills was feeding just in front of us with a splendid drake Garganey on a mud spit to their left. This was okay.

A pair of Kingfishers had a nest in a bank beneath the tower and came too and fro during our visit. A Savi’s Warbler was reeling away, making the most of the lull in the rain, and drew our attention to a Bluethroat which popped up a reed. Only one group member saw the bird through the telescope before it dropped back into the reeds.

About 50 pairs of Common Terns were nesting on two rafts in the centre of the pond with Black-headed Gulls in the reeds behind. One pair of gulls had joined the terns on a raft. They all had Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Teal and Great Crested Grebes on the pond for company.

The wood behind the pond marks the Slovak / Czech border but is also excellent for raptors which pop up in good weather. To our surprise the terns and gulls suddenly rose from their nests in alarm as first a Buzzard and then a Marsh Harrier, which received a severe mobbing, came across the border.

Birds were not the only wildlife seen. A Muskrat was spotted swimming parallel to one of the banks and a large fish, probably a Roach swam past creating a long wash. A little later spawning Carp were seen in the same canal.

We drove down towards the border to visit a ringing station where we learned that the spring effort on catching waders had finished the day before. Six Greenshanks flew past as we explored nearby ponds but a singing Golden Oriole was lass cooperative and we were unable to locate it.

The wind was cold, however, and we decided to go for a warming coffee and comfort break following which we drove a further 6km to Rabensberg to look for Imperial Eagles which are often seen in the area. Our search was unsuccessful but we did enjoy two Red Kites which passed us heading towards the border. Four Bee-eaters flew over our heads and at least three Marsh Warblers were found in the boggy fields.

Returning towards the hotel we stopped at the world-renowned Marchegg reserve but the rain had set in heavily and we beat a retreat to a local hostelry for warm drinks. Conditions did not improve and after a cursory look at the nesting White Storks we returned to the hotel. It had been a surprisingly good day considering the atrocious conditions and we turned in hoping for clear skies and sunshine for our mountain trip to Schneeberg the following day.

Thursday 19 May

Same again, please, but better

The wind howled all night and torrential rain fell. Mountaineering was out as we rose to more of the same. Tim took local advice from a friend who said that the weather was due to clear later in the day. Schneeberg was postponed and we returned to the same sites as yesterday, this time with a full compliment and taking a quicker route.

Our first stop at Hohenau was disappointing. The Spoonbills had gone along with several of the ducks, the rain had only just stopped and it was colder than yesterday. Again we headed for Rabensburg and a coffee stop, hoping that the weather would improve.

It did and in clearing conditions we explored further towards the border. Stopping to search the treetops raptors were noticed immediately. Having been pinned down for two days they were hungry and on the move. Buzzards, Red and Black Kites were common and one or two Honey Buzzards were also recorded.

Tim’s first attempt to show the group Imperial Eagle was thwarted when the bird sank down below the tree-line out of sight. Second time lucky, though, as a bird came up a few minutes later and loafed on the still-strong wind, sometimes far away, at other close to showing its pale head and white ‘braces’. It was aloft for at least 20 minutes and we all enjoyed excellent ‘scoped views.

After it finally headed off north we jumped back into the bus, elated, and explored the area further. Parking near a shrine, we walked around an old dam wall where we heard but could not find a singing River Warbler. In increasingly improving conditions we enjoyed a flock of feeding swallows over a beautiful meadow before crossing a stream to be greeted by another reeling River Warbler. This was most cooperative jumping up onto the same dead stems every five minutes or so and belting out its territorial proclamation while we watched through ‘scopes and binoculars.

It was during one of his back-stage moments that another, or maybe the same, Imperial Eagle drifted past us carrying the remains of a dead hare. It came within 100 metres or so and we had breathtaking views of this majestic species. Shortly afterwards a pale-phased Booted Eagle drifted across to the border but although several people saw it the views were insufficient for most get the identification points.

A Common Sandpiper (now on our Czech bird-list) was found by Alice as we left the river and headed back to the bus and a snack lunch. Things were going well.

We arrived at Marchegg in far better conditions than the day before with sunshine at last, only a few clouds and lighter winds.

Sadly, the notorious Marchegg mozzies had also been pinned down for two days and were out with a vengeance. Anne identified two species from the Aedes genus and a third which was probably a Culiseta species. Collectively we donated several drops of blood.

It was almost a pleasure as the Marchegg birds were terrific. After admiring and photographing the White Storks (a Black Stork passed overhead as we entered the reserve) we walked down a beautiful path deep into mozzie woodland. Our first scoop was a family of about 12 Long-tailed Tits which delighted us. A couple of juvenile Common Treecreepers were watched through ‘scopes until we were interrupted by a British couple who recommended following the blue trail.

A pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers was located almost immediately and through scopes trained on their nest-hole we all had superb views. While this was going on a Short-toed Eagle drifted overhead giving poor views through the canopy. It was the third sighting in the area during that week, we learned later. We searched in vain for Collared Flycatchers but found a Short-toed Treecreeper whose dingy plumage and buff flanks contrasted with the others we had seen earlier.

Time had flown and as we walked back to the bus Tim spotted a pair of male Collared Flycatchers chasing through the tree tops. The skirmish was one male seeing off another from his territory. The victor returned to pop in and out of a hole high in a dead tree, posing for us between visits.

We left him to it and returned to the hotel later than planned but delighted with a fabulous day. Once again we turned in with hopes for a good visit to the Alps.

Friday 20 May

Schneeberg at last

Hooray! The day dawned cloudless and with a light wind. Schneeberg was on.

We left at about 8.15am for the long drive to Puchberg where we were booked on the 11am Fire Salamander train up the mountain. Making good progress, we explored a delightful hidden valley close to the rail-head. Birds were in short supply but Sally found a vital metal pin which had dropped off a tractor and a few minutes we reunited it with an anxious owner who had walked past it, head down as if searching. He was so grateful that we were all offered Schnapps in his home but it was early in an important trip so we declined.

We caught the train and were soon chugging up to an extremely white-looking mountain-top. A Robin was found at a station close to the top where we purchased a huge bun (a local delicacy) to share between us.

A Ring Ouzel, the third seen briefly on the journey, scuttled away from the train as we drew into the station to find the whole place almost coked with slushy snow. Rain elsewhere over the last two days had fallen as snow on the mountain top. It was thawing rapidly but we had to pick our way carefully and were unable to get to the upper slopes.

Undeterred we enjoyed watching Water Pipits and Dunnocks around the eclectic Gasthof where we had a lunch of goulash and bread surrounded by mementos of the Kaiser Franz Joseph.

A few bits of bread were saved for feeding to Alpine Choughs but they seemed to prefer the lettuce leaves offered by mine host. A couple of Ravens put in an appearance before first two and then a gang of about 15 Alpine Choughs turned up.

We explored the slopes by Elizabeth Church – it was impossible to follow the hill path which was blocked by snow – and found more Water Pipits and, eventually, three Ring Ouzels which posed nicely for us in patches of ice between the snow banks.

The predicted snow cover had prompted booking a 2.30pm return train which gave us time to search for Dippers down route 24 from Puchberg to Neuerkirche. Stopping at a lay-by just before the town boundary we had fly-past views of one or two birds while two of our group stayed with the bus where they had stunning views of a pair of feral Carolina Wood-ducks.

With time in hand we returned to the Hohe Wand where we celebrated with ices creams before one last unsuccessful attempt to find Nutcracker, a difficult species to see anywhere in the spring. A Hobby did a quick loop over us which was seen by only one or two folk.

We returned to the hotel arriving at about 6.45pm after a terrific day.

Saturday 21 May

Breitenbrunn marina, Zick Lacke, Illmitz and Morbisch

Our last day in Austria was spent experimenting. To the sound of a singing Black Redstart we explored Breitenbrunn marina where thousands of Sand Martins were warming up in the early morning sunshine. They covered wooden walkways, piers, boats’ rigging and even settled in hundreds on the path in front of us. It was an amazing sight leading us to wonder if they nested near the marina or were on migration.

A looping path through reed beds came out at a muddy pond on which seven Avocets and a similar number of Red-crested Pochards were also enjoying the sun. But this was not achieved until after we had run the gauntlet of warbler territories. The reed-beds were hotching with birds.

We could hear lots of reeling Savi’s Warblers even as we walked down the approach road. An Icterine Warbler played hard in the first set of bushes but Reed- and Great Reed-warblers, Sedge and one or two Marsh warblers were easier to see. A Whitethroat jangled its song to us briefly and several Red-backed Shrikes flopped around in their characteristic flight.

A bird seen climbing up a reed stem, tailed cocked, was our first Moustached Warbler. They rarely sing after starting to nest but this chap performed well, despite carrying a beak full of grubs. And Sally was quick off the mark when pinging calls alerted her to four young Bearded Tits close by. They posed in the reeds for some time giving us excellent views of another sometimes difficult species.

Well pleased with our efforts we returned to the hotel for a later than usual breakfast and to pack. Leaving our cases in a spare conference room, we all set off for Illmitz and a last bash at Austria’s reed beds. The Bee-eaters were still absent from their quarry (and indeed, could not be seen on our return either) but a Golden Oriole was singing along with Lesser Whitethroat. We headed for Illmitz, stopping at Zick Lacke where a few Avocets, a Curlew and a female Montagu’s Harrier were seen, the latter well.

Knowing that Morbisch has a good reputation, Tim suggested that rather than drive for two hours to get there we crossed the lake on a ferry, birding as we went. This seemed a great idea and we were soon enjoying the cooler air over the lake. Little of note was seen until, as we approached Morbisch a flock of six Black Terns flew past heading north at some speed. Sadly, a few of the group missed the birds.

Morbisch was disappointing – we learned later that the good birding sites are quite a hike from the ferry terminal – but we enjoyed a snack lunch and views of a large Grass Snake which swam under a pontoon while the sunbathers above it remained oblivious. Another was seen about 400m from Illmitz on our return journey.

Departure from the hotel, Neusiedl and Austria was smooth although the flight was 40 minutes late into Heathrow. This had only one advantage. Tim bumped into fellow tour leader John Muddeman at the bus stop. They were both booked into the same hotel and enjoyed a late dinner and breakfast together the following morning.

This was a super week in Lower Austria and I would like to thank the group for being such fun. Special thanks are due to Sally and David J for sharing the navigation so well. Reading maps is not an easy task for we old men who need spectacles. I look forward to leading other groups with you all some time. I am also grateful to Anne and Veronica for preparing the plant list below.

Tim Earl


May 2005



GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae

1 Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

One heard in the Winden reed beds.

2 Great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus

Maximum of four seen at Hohenau.

CORMORANTS Pelecaniformes Phalacrocoracidae

3 Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

A few seen on five days.

HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae

4 Grey heron Ardea cinerea

Maximum of 10 seen on four days.

5 Purple heron Ardea purpurea

Common in the reed beds. Maximum of 10 on the 21st.

6 Great egret Ardea alba

Common. Seen daily in the marshes and fields around Lake Neusiedl.

STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae

7 Black stork Ciconia nigra

One drifted over us at Marchegg on the 19th.

8 White stork Ciconia ciconia

Very few about. One or two occupied nests daily, uncommon in the fields. The tree colony at Marchegg was impressive.

SPOONBILLS & IBIS Ciconiiformes Threskiornithidae

9 Eurasian spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Four at Hohenau on 18th had gone by the 19th.

SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae

10 Mute swan Cygnus olor

Four on the canal between Austria and Hungary, a few on Lake Neuseidl.

11 Greater white-fronted goose Anser albifrons

One in with Greylags at Oberstinkensee on the 17th.

12 Greylag goose Anser anser

Common in the Seewinkle National Park. All seemed to be of the pink-billed eastern race A. a. rubrirostris. We were surprised to see goslings on Lake Neuseidl diving like grebes.

13 Common shelduck Tadorna tadorna

Five Oberstinkensee on the 5th, two at Zick Lacke on the 21st.

14 Eurasian wigeon Anas penelope

Two at Hohenau on the 19th.

15 Gadwall Anas strepera

Four at Hohenau on the 19th.

16 Common teal Anas crecca

Two at Hohenau pond plus eight at the ringing station on the 19th.

17 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Common daily.

18 Garganey Anas querquedula

Hohenau: five drakes and a duck on the 18th, four drakes and a duck on the 19th.

19 Northern shoveler Anas clypeata

Two males on each of the 17th, 18th and 19th.

20 Red-crested pochard Netta rufina

A total of 25 on the 17th and 10 on the 21st.

21 Common pochard Aythya ferina

A few seen on three days.

22 Tufted duck Aythya fuligula

A pair seen at Hohenau on the 18th.

HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae

23 European honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus

Good passage of 10 birds on 15th, two respectively on the 16th, 19th and 20th.

24 Red kite Milvus milvus

Hohenau / Rabensburg, two on the 18th, 10 on the 19th.

25 Black kite Milvus migrans

Four on the 19th, one on the 20th.

26 Short-toed eagle Circaetus gallicus

One observed by us briefly through the tree-tops at Marchegg on the 19th was the third sighting of this species in the area during the week.

27 Western marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus

Common daily in the Seewinkel national park.

28 Northern harrier Circus cyaneus

Female on the Hungarian border on the 15th.

29 Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus

Seen on three days, this was one of the star species for the trip.

30 Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

Seen on three days, with a maximum of two.

31 Northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis

Seen on two days. The three at Howe Wand on the 16th could have been the same bird.

32 Eurasian buzzard Buteo buteo

Common daily.

33 Imperial eagle Aquila heliaca

Two seen (possibly the same bird) the second carrying dead prey, at Rabensburg on the 19th.

34 Booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

One seen apparently displaying as we came down from Schneeburg on the 20th. Leader-only pale-phased bird at Rabensburg on the 19th.

FALCONS Falconiformes Falconidae

35 Eurasian kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Common daily

36 Eurasian hobby Falco subbuteo

One briefly at Howe Wand on the 20th.

37 Peregrine Falco peregrinus

Male carrying a dead Woodpigeon, with a juvenile, at Howe Wand on the 16th.

PHEASANTS & PARTRIDGES Galliformes Phasianidae

38 Common quail Coturnix coturnix

Heard on three days with two on the 15th.

39 Ring-necked pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Common daily.

RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae

40 Common moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Seen on only two days.

41 Eurasian coot Fulica atra

Maximum of four on the 17th.

BUSTARDS Gruiformes Otididae

42 Great bustard Otis tarda

Four displaying males and six others on the 15th.

STILTS & AVOCETS Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae

43 Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus

Only one seen on the 17th.

44 Pied avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Seen on two days with a maximum of more than 25 on the 17th.

LAPWINGS & PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae

45 Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Common daily.

46 Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius

Common in suitable habitat.

47 Kentish (Snowy) plover Charadrius alexandrinus

About 20 spread over several sites on the 17th.

SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae

48 Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa

A total of five seen in two days. Dry fields resulted in a drop in the numbers of this species breeding in Lower Austria this year.

49 Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata

Seen or heard on three days. Also lower numbers breeding.

50 Common redshank Tringa totanus

The most common wader, seen every day we were on the marshes,.

51 Common greenshank Tringa nebularia

One on the 17th and a group of five on the 18th.

52 Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus

One on the 17th.

53 Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola

Two on the 17th and one on the 18th.

54 Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Singles seen on three days.

55 Little stint Calidris minuta

Six on the 17th and one with a flock of Temminck's Stints on the 19th.

56 Temminck's stint Calidris temminckii

Flock of 22 at Warmsee on the 17th, one on 19th.

57 Dunlin Calidris alpina

Flock of six on the 17th.

58 Ruff Philomachus pugnax

One male on the 17th.

GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae

59 Yellow-legged gull Larus cachinnans

Common daily around the lake, mostly immature birds.

60 Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus

One on the lake looked like the Baltic race L. f. fuscus.

61 Black-headed gull Larus ridibundus

Common daily. Colony at Hohenau.

62 Mediterranean gull Larus melanocephalus

Singles seen on the 15th and 17th.

TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae

63 Common tern Sterna hirundo

Four seen on two days with a colony of about 30 pairs at Hohenau.

64 Black tern Chlidonias niger

Six seen from the Morbisch ferry on 21st.

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae

65 Rock dove (feral pigeon) Columba livia

Common in towns and villages.

66 Common wood-pigeon Columba palumbus

Common, seen daily.

67 Eurasian turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur

A few seen most days.

68 Eurasian collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto

Common, seen daily.

CUCKOOS Cuculiformes Cuculidae

69 Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Common, seen daily.

OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae

70 Little owl Athene noctua

One heard at the back of the hotel on three nights.

71 Short-eared owl Asio flammeus

An amazing seven seen on our first full day including four on the Tadten plains on the 15th.

SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae

72 Common swift Apus apus

Common, seen daily.

KINGFISHERS Coraciiformes Alcedinidae

73 Common kingfisher Alcedo atthis

A pair at Hohenau.

BEE-EATERS Coraciiformes Meropidae

74 European bee-eater Merops apiaster

About 20 outside Weiden on the 17th and four seen at Rabensburg on the 18th.

WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae

75 Eurasian wryneck Jynx torquilla

One boird at the back of the hotel was around for most of the tour.

76 Middle spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos medius

Common, seen daily.

77 Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major

A few seen most days.

78 Syrian woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus

Common, seen daily.

79 Green woodpecker Picus viridis

Heard on the 16th, seen on the 18th and 19th.

LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae

80 Crested lark Galerida cristata

Only one bird seen at the roadside just outside Neusiedl on the 18th.

81 Sky lark Alauda arvensis

A few seen most days.

SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae

82 Sand martin Riparia riparia

Common, seen daily. Flock of circa 2,000 at Breitenbrunn marina on the 21st.

83 Barn swallow Hirundo rustica

Common, seen daily.

84 House martin Delichon urbica

Common, seen daily.

WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae

85 White wagtail Motacilla alba

Common, seen daily.

86 Yellow wagtail Motacilla flava

Common, at the start of the tour but fewer towards the end.

87 Tawny pipit Anthus campestris

One at the Hungarian border on the 15th.

88 Water pipit Anthus spinoletta

About five seen on the top of Schneeberg.

DIPPERS Passeriformes Cinclidae

89 White-throated dipper Cinclus cinclus

Two seen in a fast flowing river outside Puchberg.

WRENS Passeriformes Troglodytidae

90 Winter wren Troglodytes troglodytes

One singing in the Eisenstadt Palace grounds.

ACCENTORS Passeriformes Prunellidae

91 Dunnock Prunella modularis

About five seen on the top of Schneeberg.

THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae

92 Ring ouzel Turdus torquatus

Six seen on the way up or on top of Schneeberg.

93 Eurasian blackbird Turdus merula

Common, seen daily.

94 Song thrush Turdus philomelos

Common, seen daily.

95 Mistle thrush Turdus viscivorus

Four seen on the Hohe Wand.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae

96 Grasshopper warbler Locustella naevia

Several heard singing, one studied at the Tadten plain Bustard tower.

97 Eurasian river warbler Locustella fluviatilis

Wonderful views of a singing male at Rabensburg, others heard.

98 Savi's warbler Locustella luscinioides

Almost abundant in the reed beds.

99 Moustached warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon

Two or three seen on the last morning in the Breitenbrunn marina reed bed.

100 Sedge warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Common, recorded most days.

101 Eurasian reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus

A few recorded most days.

102 Marsh warbler Acrocephalus palustris

A few recorded on three days. Excellent views inb several places.

103 Great reed-warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Common, seen daily.

104 Icterine warbler Hippolais icterina

Seen on three occasions during the tour.

105 Willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus

Heard only on two pre-breakfast walks.

106 Common chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybeta

Heard or seen on six days.

107 Western Bonelli's warbler Phylloscopus bonelli

At least three heard on the Hohe Wand on the 16th.

108 Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Common, seen and heard daily.

109 Garden warbler Sylvia borin

Only one bird heard at the back of the hotel on the 16th.

110 Greater whitethroat Sylvia communis

A few seen most days.

111 Lesser whitethroat Sylvia curruca

Common, seen daily.

112 Barred warbler Sylvia nisoria

One seen well on our first afternoon. Another heard at Oberstinkensee on the 17th.

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae

113 Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata

Two nesting behind the hotel. At least six in the Eisenstadt Palace grounds where there seemed to have been a fall.

114 European pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca

A female on the 14th and male on the 15th, both on passage.

115 Collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis

A male prospecting a nest hole in a dead tree in Marchegg chased off another male before posing for us.

116 European robin Erithacus rubecula

Two on the 16th and about four on the 20th.

117 Common nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

A few recorded most days.

118 Bluethroat Luscinia svecica

One briefly in the reeds at Hohenau on the 18th.

119 Black redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

Common, seen daily.

120 Whinchat Saxicola rubetra

Six on the 15th.

121 European stonechat Saxicola torquata

seen in family parties on four days.

PARROTBILLS Passeriformes Paradoxornithidae

122 Bearded reedling Panurus biarmicus

A group of four juvs at Breitenbrunn on the 21st.

LONG-TAILED TITS Passeriformes Aegithalidae

123 Long-tailed tit Aegithalos caudatus

Large family party at Marchegg included a couple of pale-headed adults (not the white-headed race).

TITS & CHICKADEES Passeriformes Paridae

124 Marsh tit Poecile palustris

A male feeding mate in courtship in Eisenstadt Palace grounds on the 16th; heard on the 19th.

125 Coal tit Periparus ater

One or more seen in Hohe Wand on the 16th.

126 Great tit Parus major

Common, seen daily.

127 Blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus

Common, seen daily.

NUTHATCHES Passeriformes Sittidae

128 Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea

Seen on the 16th and 19th.

CREEPERS Passeriformes Certhiidae

129 Eurasian treecreeper Certhia familiaris

A pair seen and heard in Marchegg on the 19th. See Short-toed treecreeper note below.

130 Short-toed treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla

A pair seen and heard in Marchegg on the 19th. This is the second time a birding group has recorded both species in the same woods at Marchegg.

ORIOLES Passeriformes Oriolidae

131 Eurasian golden oriole Oriolus oriolus

Common, recorded daily.

SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae

132 Red-backed shrike Lanius collurio

Common, seen daily.

JAYS & CROWS Passeriformes Corvidae

133 Eurasian jay Garrulus glandarius

Common, seen most daiys.

134 Common magpie Pica pica

Common, seen daily.

135 Yellow-billed (Alpine) chough Pyrrhocorax graculus

Maximum of 15 on Schneeberg.

136 Eurasian jackdaw Corvus monedula

Common, seen daily.

137 Rook Corvus frugilegus

Several flocks seen towards the mountains.

138 Carrion crow Corvus corone

Common, Hooded seen daily, Carrion in the mountains.

139 Common raven Corvus corax

Two at Hohe Wand and four on Schneeberg

STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae

140 European starling Sturnus vulgaris

Common, seen daily.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae

141 House sparrow Passer domesticus

Common, seen daily.

142 Eurasian tree sparrow Passer montanus

Common, seen daily.

FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae

143 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Common, seen daily.

144 Red crossbill Loxia curvirostra

Party of about 15 at Hohe Wand on the 16th.

145 European greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Common, seen daily.

146 Eurasian siskin Carduelis spinus

One seen at ther back of the hotel on the 16th.

147 European goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Common, seen daily.

148 Eurasian linnet Carduelis cannabina

Common, seen daily.

149 European serin Serinus serinus

Common, seen daily.

TRUE BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae

150 Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella

A few recorded most days.

151 Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

A few recorded most days.

152 Corn bunting Emberiza calandra

Common, seen most days.


RABBITS & HARES Lagomorpha Leporidae

1 European hare Lepus europaeus

Abundant daily.

2 European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

Two or three at the Bee-eater quarry.

SQUIRRELS Rodentia Scuridae

3 Eurasian red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

Only one seen in the whole trip: at Hohe Wand on the 16th.

MICE, RATS, VOLES & GERBILS Rodentia Muridae

4 European water vole Arvicola terrestris (amphibius)

One in the small canal behind the hotel on the 18th.

5 Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus

One at Hohenau on the 18th.

OTTERS, WEASELS & BADGERS Carnivora Mustelidae

6 Ermine (Stoat) Mustela erminea

One at Breitenbrunn on the 21st.

7 Least weasel Mustela nivalis

One on the Tadten plains on the 15th.

DEER Artiodactyla Cervidae

8 Western roe deer Capreolus capreolus

Abundant. Lots seen daily.

We also saw the following dead in the road:- Western Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, Brown Rat, Rattus norvegicus. We also saw the tracks of Chamois, Rupicapra rupicapra, in the snow on Schneeberg and earth mounds of European Mole, Talpa europaea.


FROGS Ranidae

Marsh (Lake) frog Rana ridibunda


Grass snake Natrix natrix


Rainy, cold weather kept the butterfly-watching to a minimum.


Swallowtail Papilio machaon


Large white Pieris brassicae

Small white Pieris rapae

Orange tip Anthocharis cardamines

Clouded yellow Colias crocia

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni


Painted lady Vanessa cardui

Fritillary sp


Woodland ringlet Erebia medusa

Meadow brown Maniola jurtina

BLUES Lycaenidae

Common blue Polommatus icarus


This plant list is based on species noted by Keith Grant on our previous trips plus a few more added by Veronica Kitson and Anne Varley to whom I am most grateful.

Code letters refer as follows:

EK Einser Kanal

ES Eisenstadt

HW Hohe Wand

M Marchauen area

N Neusiedl area

P Podersdorf area

S Schneeberg & Puchberg am Schneeberg area

Pinaceae Pines

Pinus mugo Dwarf Mountain Pine S

Loranthaceae Mistletoes

Loranthus europaeus Mistletoe sp. M

Caryophyllaceae Pinks

Silene viscosa White Sticky Catchfly P

Silene vulgaris Bladder Campion S

Silene acaulis Moss Campion S

Melandrium album White Campion

Melandrium dioicum Pink Campion

Lychnis flos-cuculi Ragged Campion

Stellaria graminea Lesser Stitchwort

Dianthus deltoides Maiden Pink P

Dianthus carthusianorum Carthusian Pink P

Stellaria nemorum Wood Stitchwort M

Ranunculaceae Buttercups

Pulsatilla alpina Alpine Pasque Flower S

Aquilegia sp. Columbine S

Ranunculus bulbosus Bulbous (Common) Buttercup

Ranunculus acris Meadow Buttercup

Papaveraceae Poppies

Papaver rhoeas Common Poppy

Rosaceae Roses

Dryas octopetala Mountain Avens S

Rosa canina Dog Rose

Potentilla anserina Silverweed EK, N

Potentilla argentea Hoary Cinquefoil N, P

Alchemilla sp. Alpine Lady's Mantle S

Leguminosae Peas

Robinia pseudacacia False Acacia (naturalised)

Vicia sativa Common Vetch

Astragalus danicus Purple Milk-vetch N, P

Medicago sativa Lucerne / Alfalfa N

Lotus corniculatus [Common] Birdsfoot Trefoil RQ

Oxalidaceae Wood-sorrels

Oxalis acetosella Wood-sorrel ES

Geraniaceae Geraniums

Geranium pratense Meadow Cranesbill S

Euphorbiaceae Spurges

Euphorbia cyparissias Cypress Spurge P

Linaceae Flaxes

Linum perenne Perennial Flax N, P

Violaceae Violets

Viola riviniana Common Dog Violet

Viola tricolor Heartsease ES

Umbelliferae Carrots

Cow Parsley

Primulaceae Primroses

Primula elatior Oxlip


Cyclamen purpurascens European Cyclamen ES

(= europaeum)

Gentianaceae Gentians

Gentiana acaulis Trumpet Gentian S

Gentiana verna Spring Gentian S

Boraginaceae Borage

Symphytum officinale Common Comfrey

Myosotis sylvatica Wood Forget-me-not

Labiatae Mints

Salvia pratensis Meadow Clary P, S

Lamiastrum galeobdolon Yellow Archangel ES

Lamium album White Dead Nettle

Thymus drucei Wild thyme

Scrophulariaceae Figworts

Verbascum thrapsus Aaron's Rod / Great Mullein

Veronica prostrata or Prostrate Speedwell or HW

V. spicata Spiked Speedwell

Plantaginaceae Plantains

Plantago media Hoary Plantain ES, N

Plantago sp. Plantain

Rubiaceae Bedstraws

Galium sp. Bedstraw

Dipsacaceae Scabious'

Knautia arvensis Field Scabious

Compositae Daisies

Tussilago farfara Coltsfoot S

Liliaceae Lilies

Allium ursinum Ramsons ES

Ornithogalum augustifolium Star-of-Bethlehem RQ

Polygonatum multiflorum Common Solomon's Seal ES

Convallaria majalis Lily of the Valley

Amaryllidaceae Daffodils

Leucojum aestivum Summer Snowflake

Orchidaceae Orchids

Orchis morio Green-winged Orchid N

Dactylorhiza incarnata Early Marsh Orchid N

© The Travelling Naturalist and Limosa Holidays 2005