Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Destinations: Hortobagy-halasto - Hungary

At the heart of the Hortobagy National Park, in eastern Hungary, lies the largest fish-pond system in the region. Hortobagy-halasto (often called in English Hortobagy Great Fish Farm) is a mosaic of man-made ponds and lakes created for carp production. Criss-crossed by channels, dykes, which are often lined with trees and bushes and with vast reedbeds, this is a managed protected area (still farmed for fish) and a haven for birds. Most of the larger "ponds" are now overlooked by birding towers and the largest pond has a covered hide. There is also a "birdwatchers' train" that when running gets you into the heart of the area. Breeding birds include an array of grebes, cormorants, herons, egrets, wildfowl, terns, gulls, tits and warblers. In passage periods there are huge flocks of wildfowl and waders, which use any drained and hence muddy basins. From September into winter there are parties of Lesser White-fronted Geese and masses of Common Cranes rooting here. In winter there are wildfowl flocks and White-tailed Eagles. Many Hungarian rarities have also been found here. An entrance permit, available from the HNP Visitor Centre in Hortobgy village, is required.

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