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The Kiskunsag is a large flat plain to the south of Budapest, Hungary between the Danube and Tisza Rivers. Seven separate areas of land have been protected as the Kiskunsag National Park.
While most of the plain is now under intensive agriculture there remains good areas of deciduous woodland and excellent reedbeds, marshes and wet grassland as well as surviving area of puszta. From a birding point of view one of the most interesting areas is the group of salt lakes between the villages of Szabadszallas and Fulopszallas in the centre of the region.
There is much of birding interest throughout the year and the area is of great importance for breeding, passage and wintering birds. A White-headed Duck reintroduction project is underway at Fulophaza between Kecskemet and Szabadszallas.
Reedbeds have Great Bittern and Little Bittern, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great White Egret and Little Egret, Purple Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron. Pygmy Cormorant has recently begun breeding here. All four European crakes occur but, as ever, they are elusive and rarely seen and breeding waterfowl include small numbers of Ferruginous Duck and Garganey.
On the drier parts of the Kiskunsag there are typical steppe and dry grassland species such as Stone-curlew, Tawny Pipit and Crested Lark with European Roller and Lesser Grey Shrike often seen perched on overhead wires. This is now one of the best sites for Great Bustard in Hungary with about 400 birds. Breeding raptors include Marsh Harrier and Montagu's Harrier, Saker Falcon, Northern Hobby and Red-footed Falcon.
During passage periods and particularly spring a wide range of waders can be seen around the lakes and on the wet grasslands. In autumn thousands of Bean Goose and Greater White-fronted Goose visit the Kiskunsag and duck numbers can reach tens of thousands. Lesser White-fronted Goose is a rare migrant and Red-breasted Goose sometimes winters. Common Crane is regular on passage and migrating raptors such as Lesser Spotted Eagle are fairly common with the occasional Greater Spotted Eagle also seen. Pallid Harrier and Long-legged Buzzard are rare but regular in early autumn.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Great Bittern, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Tundra Bean Goose, Taiga Bean Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Merlin, Northern Hobby, Saker Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Grey Partridge, Common Quail, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Baillon's Crake, Corncrake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Crane, Great Bustard, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Stone-curlew, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-necked Phalarope, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Short-eared Owl, European Nightjar, Common Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Horned Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Eurasian Wren, Common Nightingale, Bluethroat, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Eurasian River Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Rook, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Twite, Northern Redpoll, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting
In addition to birds the Kiskunsag has important populations of reptiles, most notably this is the Hungarian stronghold of Balkan Wall Lizard Podarcis taurica and one of last areas in Europe where the endangered Meadow Viper Vipera rakosiensis can be found.
Amphibians of ten species occur at Lake Kolon.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Aside from the salt lakes, Lake Kolon to the south of Izsak is an excellent area that should not be missed. A large, reed-covered lake of great importance for breeding herons, including Squacco Heron, and Eurasian Spoonbill, it also has small numbers of Great Bustard in the surrounding fields and regular White-tailed Eagle.
There is an observation tower overlooking the salt lakes.
Access and Facilities
The seven separate areas of Kiskunsag National Park are centred around the town of Kecskemet which is easily reached, lying on the main Budapest to Szeged road. Visiting the national park areas requires permission in advance from Kiskunsagi Nemzeti Park 6001, Kecskemet, Liszt F.Utca.19., Hungary. There are several tower hides within the park areas.
However, most of the birds of this region can be seen outside the protected areas and driving along the minor roads can be highly productive. There are canals, ponds and reedbeds well worthy of investigation scattered over the farmland between the park zones.
Content and images originally posted by Steve