Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hungary: Things I saw enroute to ...

... seeing Black Woodpecker.  

Moving on in Hungary and leaving the region of the Kunsagi Nemzeti Park, we again travelled and stopped along our route.

In English, the sign reads "Duck Nature Trail," it guides you through the rich wildlife of wetlands and of the surrounding grasslands, the so called puszta.

The marsh was subtly beautiful.  We climbed a not very tall observation platform which nevertheless gave us a panoramic view.

Gerard noticed first the pellet of an owl of some sort; but he found more interesting the small pile of sawdust coming from a carpenter bee hole in the observation tower support post.  He is currently writing a book on "signs and tracks" and he took several photos to submit to his publisher.  

There were many [Northern] Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) in this marsh.  Typically they remain hidden in the tall grass until something presents itself that make them become visible and vocal.  Gerard commented that lapwings will go after everything and anything.

As if on cue, a red fox began to run across the marsh being chased and berated by lapwings as can be seen in the photos above and below.

Still running and still hotly pursued by lapwings.

The lapwings have done their job and the fox moves on free of their harassment.  I've always liked foxes and on this trip I came to like them all the more.

In this park, water buffalo have been introduced for marsh grass maintenance because they will eat anything.   Research is abundant on grazing animals in grasslands related to the quality and the intensity of the grazing and which is and is not beneficial for grassland health. 

Moving on to another roadside marsh, we found Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) and Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), below. Our Whimbrel, Bristle-thighed and Long-billed curlews are also in the Numenius family.  

For some reason, I did not expect to see [Northern] Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) in Hungary.  But in summer they are widespread throughout the continent.

The Cardinal Fritillary (Argynnis pandora) is as spectacular in flight as it is perched.  In flight it is easily recognized as a fritillary but is different from our Speyeria and Boloria fritillary families.  This is evident by the Argynnis species different wing shape and different, darker color.  The Cardinal fritillary is widespread throughout Europe and, in Hungary, I saw it often.  I love the green underwing of this butterfly.  The upper wing is equally dramatic.  There are 48 species of fritillary in Europe, and another, found in my final days, I just cannot identify.

I have been through every fritillary in the Collins Butterfly Guide several times and without it's upper wing fully open, I cannot settle on this butterfly's identification.  Unfortunately, they just don't land that way and it's a lopsided photo anyway.

Butterflying (is this a word?) is as popular in Europe, especially among the Brits, as it is here.  Later we also saw a Southern Festoon (Zerynthia polyxena) which is highly sought after by British butterfliers.

Southern Festoon

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