Our friend and colleague János Oláh has been instrumental in setting up a series of superb bird-photography hides in Eastern Hungary, in and around the Hortobágy National Park. These allow some superb opportunities to photograph a number of otherwise difficult to approach species, as well as many commoner species.
The variety and nature of the hides makes this a wonderful venue for between one and eight photographers, taking customized arrangements to suit your particular requirements. We are also offering a special Wild Images group tour for up to eight photographers.
May is the prime time for spring migration in Hungary. Ferruginous Ducks are regular at the waterbird hides and the breeding passerines are supplemented by migrants at the drinking pools. This is a good time for breeding-plumaged shorebirds and with a bit of luck Ruffs can be photographed. Besides shorebird and passerine migration, this is also the most active week for breeding Red-footed Falcons. They are busily fighting for the best nesting areas and settled pairs mate several times daily, allowing for some superb photographic opportunities. Another main target for this week is Eurasian Hoopoe, which is usually more difficult later in the season.
Our spring tour focusses on late arriving and breeding birds such as the colourful European Bee-eater and European Roller. They are both settled at their breeding areas by this time of year and we will have many opportunities to capture images of these wonderful birds. Although migration is more or less finished, the breeding birds at the waterbird hides are still very good. Whiskered Terns and egrets also turn up alongside the ducks. The drinking pools attract up to 20 species daily and Hawfinch is one of the most common visitors. The Red-footed Falcons are incubating, but at certain times of day there is interesting activity that can make for rewarding photography.
Our partners in Hungary are constantly developing new hides and recent additions to the range of options include hides for feeding herons, egrets and storks (including the shy Black Stork) as well as Pygmy Cormorant.
The most critical issue in bird photography is how to get close enough to your subject and a hide is often necessary in order to achieve this with shy bird species. Recently, hide technology has improved greatly, and natural hides may represent a revolutionary innovation in the field of nature conservation, since not only do they hide the photographer, but also appear as a natural part of the landscape. They integrate into the natural setting and are quickly accepted by the birds. They create new feeding, roosting and even nesting habitats for birds, and comply with the principles and practices of habitat restoration, bird protection and bird photography. Our natural hide network has been developed and constructed in various bird habitats in and around the Hortobágy National Park and has been developed to blend in with the landscape allowing you, the photographer, to feel part of the natural environment.
The hides have wide photo-through panorama windows looking in one, two, three or four directions. The panoramic hides are divided inside into mobile and flexible compartments by curtains, so that the photo-through glasses can operate properly and effectively. The hides are spacious and comfortable enough to be used by up to three photographers. Winter hides are heated. Padded chairs with a back support are provided for some of the hides, while other hides have mattresses.
1. AQUATIC HIDES
These hides operate from mid March to mid November, though the Little Bittern hide only operates from May to August.
PYGMY CORMORANT HIDE
This hide is located in a fishpond system in the western part of the Hortobágy National Park and was installed in March 2008. The fishpond is used as a bird feeding pond and there is no fishery activity for most of the year. In summer most of the pond is covered with floating Yellow Floating Heart which serves as a lovely yellow background for photography. The hide is located at the edge of the reedbed and has a circular island in front of it which is used by birds for resting, preening, feeding etc. There are also several branches around the hide for birds to perch on. It is about 100m walk through reeds to reach the hide with about 50cm deep water in the last section (rubber boots are provided). The bottom of the hide is about 5cm above water level so it is possible to take pictures from a very low angle. The hide is on pillars and is comfortable for two photographers. This hide is only available for all-day sessions to avoid disturbance to the birds.
EGRET, HERON & STORK HIDE
This hide is located in the northern edge of the Hortobágy National Park and it was installed in summer 2013. It was built in steppe habitat by a small wetland. The storks and egrets are fed fish. It is accessible by car and is comfortable for up to three photographers. Black Storks are regular visitors in late April-early May depending on weather along with White Stork, Black-crowned Night Heron, Grey Heron, Great Egret and Eurasian Spoonbill. The emphasis is capturing feeding and action shots. This hide is only available for all-day sessions to avoid disturbance to the birds.
This hide is situated in one of the fishponds in the Hortobágy National Park and was completed in March 2009. It is accessed via a boardwalk. The bottom of the hide is about 5cm above water level so it is possible to take pictures from a very low angle. The hide is on pillars and is comfortable for two or three photographers.
Some of the more interesting species one may be able to photograph from these aquatic hides include Red-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night, and Squacco Herons, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Smew, Marsh Harrier, Little Crake, Water Rail, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Gull, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Common Kingfisher, Yellow Wagtail, Bluethroat, Savi’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and Bearded and Penduline Tits.
2. PASSERINE DRINKING HIDE / FEEDING STATION
Two hides operates throughout the year in the Debrecen Great Wood reserve, which is a superb old oak forest. There is a drinking pool in front of the hides and woodpeckers and seedeating birds are fed throughout the winter. It is a short 5-10 minutes walk to the hides which are comfortable for three photographers.
Some of the more interesting species one may be able to photograph from this hide include Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Turtle Dove, Black, Green, Grey-headed, Great Spotted, Middle Spotted and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Wryneck, Common Nightingale, Common Redstart, Redwing, Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Golden Oriole, Brambling, Eurasian Siskin, European Serin and Hawfinch.
3. CANOPY DRINKING HIDE
A exciting new development is the canopy drinking hide, operational from spring 2014 and targets Golden Oriole and cuckoo. The hide is 5 metres off the ground infront of an eyev-level drinking pool and is accessed by a ladder. It is air-conditioned, has electricity and has seats and shelves inside and is Accessed by a gentle 200m walk.
4. RED-FOOTED FALCON TOWER HIDE
This hide operates from late April to mid July. The hide is located in the eastern part of the Hortobágy National Park in a wood which is a regular breeding area for the falcons. It was installed in March 2008. Nest boxes are placed around the hide and there are several strategically-placed branches (with good backgrounds) for the falcons to perch on in front of the hide. It is possible to drive to the hide which is 5m above ground level and has windows either side of the hide. It is comfortable for four photographers. Some of the more interesting species one may be able to photograph from this hide include Common Crane, Marsh Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, Common Kestrel, Saker, Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, European Roller, Common Hoopoe, Black Redstart, Marsh Warbler, Lesser and Common Whitethroats and Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes. This hide is only available for all-day sessions to avoid disturbance to the birds.
5. HOOPOE HIDES
There can be up to three hoopoe hides in operation, where the birds can be photographed visiting their nest boxes. These offer a great opportunity for flight shots as well as on perches. The hides can easily accommodate up to two photographers.
6. BEE-EATER AND ROLLER HIDES
There are also usually one bee-eater and two roller hides available, situated near breeding sites where the birds can be photographed on regular perches. The small hides accommodate up to two photographers for sessions lasting 3-5 hours at a time.
7. CRANE HIDES
These hides operate from mid-September to early November, the prime season in the first two weeks of September when there are fewer cranes and they are more predictable in their bathing and gathering habits. The locations of the hides used for Common Crane photography are in the northern part of the Hortobágy National Park. Usually they are located near shallow water in a temporary grazed wetland or close to a dyke where cranes drink and bathe. Usually a short walk is required to reach the hide. The hides are comfortable for three photographers, with the sole focus being on the cranes.
It is worth bearing in mind that with regular additions to their hide network our partners usually have more options available than there are hide sessions on this tour so we hope that you will enjoy it so much that you will want to return to this lovely part of Hungary to try some of the subjects that you miss first time around!
Day 1 The tour begins this afternoon at Budapest, from where we will transfer to the Hortabágy for a six nights stay.
Days 2 - 6 We will have five full days of photography allowing us to enjoy a variety of the hides on offer. The exact programme will be determined by the available subjects and the desires of the photographers, though everyone will have ample opportunity to enjoy each of the active hides.
Day 7 After some final time in the Hortabágy we will return to Budapest, where the tour ends this afternoon.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel is of a good standard. Road transport is by minibus and roads are good.
Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout.
Climate: Many days are warm, dry and sunny, but cool, overcast weather with some rain is not unusual.
BUDAPEST CITY BREAKS
Budapest is one of Europe's most attractive and interesting capital cities and is only around a 30 minute taxi ride from its airport. Why not take the opportunity to have an extra night or two here in addiiton to the tour? Please contact us for more details.
CUSTOM DEPARTURES AT ANY TIME
These superb hides lend themselves to customized tours at any time of year and of any duration, and you will always be looked after by János or a member of his team. Please contact us if you would like us to put together a customized itinerary for you.
These are confirmed prices
Important Information for Pound Payers: Kindly note that the prices shown here are based on post-EU-referendum exchange rate reality, unlike many tour operators who are still showing prices based on hugely higher and very outdated pre-referendum exchange rates. Consequently you can rest assurred that we will not have to adjust these prices upwards at invoicing, unless the Pound falls significantly further, and if there is a significant recovery by the Pound you will receive the benefit by way of a price reduction.
Tour Price: £1390, €1640, $1820 Budapest/Budapest.
Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, all excursions, all entrance fees, leader services. Tips at the hotel are not included. Price based on minimum 2 participants.
Base prices for this tour are determined in Euros, the currency in which we pay for most tour services. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = €1.180 and €1 = $1.110. For those not paying us in Euros, prices will be adjusted (either downwards or upwards) at the time of invoicing should there be a significant change in the exchange rate. See booking information.
Single Room Supplement: £126, €149, $165.
Deposit: £300, €350, $400.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news from our tours around the world as well as other news and competitions with our quarterly e-Newsletter.
Sign up filling in the fields below. All form fields are required.