This time a fortnight ago I was in Hungary with friends to see the migration of cranes. We landed at Budapest Airport, stayed the night in that city and drove on to the Hortobàgy National Park the next day. The Hortobàgy is in the Great Hungarian Plain.
You may wonder what the subject of this photograph is. Indeed, it is hard to make out the couple of dotterels in the photo, but on reflection the picture does give a reasonable idea of the heavily grazed puszta of the Great Plain of Hungary. As with us there was a long and droughty summer. The area of lightly grazed steppe is much reduced and wherever the soils are deposits of loess they are cultivated. We saw sunflowers, maize, barley stubbles (cultivations were going ahead under clouds of dust), alfalfa.
What made the dotterels more difficult to see was that they were mainly but not completely in winter plumage. Of course it is one thing to see birds through a telescope and another to pick them up with anything other than a very long lens.
Ah, yes, those cranes!
This was the view to the West from an observation tower.
Near our hotel in the the town of Balmazújváros there were a couple of trees in which about seven, perhaps more long-eared owls were roosting. What a wonderful chance to see them!