- Fly from London to Vienna then transfer to our hotel, just over an hour’s drive. We should arrive in time to enjoy some local birding in the late afternoon.
- Accommodation: Illmitz, 7-nights on full board basis.
- Each day we choose from a fine array of habitats to visit. The accessibility of the shallow Illmitz wetlands makes them one of the best spots to see some of the area’s specialities: from black-necked grebe, bittern, purple heron and spoonbill to greylag goose, garganey, red-crested pochard and ferruginous duck. Bluethroats have a penchant for patches of freshly-cut reed, and it is here that we have our best chance of finding one.
- We hope to see the first autumn migrants as they visit the muddy margins of the lakes. They could include little and Temminck’s stints, wood sandpiper, ruff, spotted redshank and other migratory shorebirds. And as we weave our way from one lake to the next through the patchwork of meadows, vineyards and thickets, we keep our eyes peeled for passerine migrants such as whinchat, wood warbler and pied flycatcher. There’s always a chance of the unexpected during our time here, and past surprises have included glossy ibis, white-tailed eagle, terek sandpiper, collared pratincole, waxwing and thrush nightingale.
- The magnificent great bustard, now one of Neusiedl’s rarest residents, still retains a foothold on the plain. By visiting early in the day, before the grasslands vanish beneath a shimmering sea of heat-haze, we hope to see these impressive birds from a special observation platform that overlooks Hansag Reserve, close to the border with Hungary. Montagu’s harrier, honey buzzard, quail and red-backed shrike also frequent this area. If we head out in the early morning to look for great bustard, the hotel can provide coffee and croissants to take into the field, before we return later for a full buffet breakfast.
- Once we’ve explored Neusiedl’s lowlands thoroughly, we venture a little further afield to focus on an exciting range of alpine birds, with visits to the picturesque Höhe Wand and its neighbour the Schneeberg, the highest mountain in Lower Austria at 2,076 metres. Meaning ‘High Wall’, the Höhe Wand is a rocky pine-clad plateau that rises abruptly from the plain around an hour’s drive west of the hotel. Here we walk quiet forest trails in search of black woodpecker, firecrest and crossbill. Raven and peregrine haunt the dramatic cliffs on the sunny, south-facing side, while the meadows below are graced by a fine selection of butterflies.
- Time permitting, we will have a final morning of birdwatching around Lake Neusiedl, before we return to Vienna in time to catch our flight to London.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
Our hotel in the sleepy town of Illmitz, right on the edge of the Seewinkel wetlands, is run by a family that understands birdwatchers and are interested in birding and wildlife themselves.
All rooms have been recently renovated to a high standard with en suite bathrooms.
The hotel has a birding library and a viewing platform where we can watch the white storks on their nest on top of the roof of the local bank. Syrian woodpecker have nested in the ‘hof’ or yard in spring, and if the weather’s kind, we can take breakfast or dinner there.
All meals are included.
Breakfasts and dinners taken at the hotel. Lunches are a mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals taken at one of the region’s traditional restaurants or Gasthofs.
Serin and black redstart are garden birds here, and on the wetlands we hope to see one of the rarest residents of Lake Neusiedl – the great bustard. Most of central Europe’s long list of special birds occur here too, with noisy families in tow after the spring breeding season.
- Syrian woodpecker
- Golden oriole
- Red-backed shrike
The countryside around the lake itself is flat and the going easy, with short walks (1-3 miles). Expect a few short uphill stretches along good trails in the surrounding hills and mountains, all taken slowly.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Vienna – London
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.