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Over the years we have offered avariety of tours to Hungary,focusing on such wide-rangingwildlife delights as birds, butterflies andflowers. This unique holiday, however,focuses on a different aspect of theMagyar natural world and offers afascinating insight into the life of bats andother mammals - mainly rodents - whichare typically elusive and usually difficult tosee. We will visit huge cave- and house-dwelling bat colonies, and also join batresearchers as they mist-net bats at'swarming caves' and feeding sites. Wewill also join small mammal experts fromthe national parks and be on hand whenthey check their study traps (all animals,naturally, being released unharmed!). In all,we hope to see between 15 and 20species of bat on this week-long tour, aswell as up to 10 species of mouse, shrewand vole and perhaps three species ofdormouse. Larger mammals such as WildBoar, European Beaver, Brown Hare,Badger and both Red and Roe Deer arealso possible, together with an abundanceof birds and other wildlife. Wolf, EuropeanLynx and Wild Cat also occur in thisregion, but are unfortunately usually onlyseen by a lucky few! We begin our holiday with a flight toBudapest, Hungary's scenic capital city.From here we journey to the AggtelekNational Park, our base for the firstthree nights of the tour. Aggtelek issituated in the north-east of the countryand was one of the first national parks tobe designated in Hungary, primarily onaccount of its fine limestone scenery, karstlandscapes and extensive caves. Duringour time here we will visit bat coloniesclose to our hotel to see Geoffroy's, andboth Greater and Lesser Horseshoe Bats,and we will spend the evenings mist-netting with researchers, hoping forGreater and Lesser Mouse-eared, Serotineand Grey Long-eared Bats. We will alsoinspect small mammal traps to sample thelocal rodent fauna. Amongst the specieswe might see are Common, Pygmy, LesserWhite-toothed, Bi-coloured White-toothed,Water and Miller's Water Shrew; StripedField, Wood, Yellow-necked, Herb Field,Harvest, Steppe and House Mouse; andBank, European Pine and Common Voles.Along a stream we could catchBechstein's, Mediterranean Horseshoe,Brandt's, Pond and Natterer's Bats andwith luck even Parti-coloured Bat. There is,of course, plenty of other wildlife to enjoy in addition to the mammals andduring our time here we will not beignoring butterflies such as Pallas'sFritillary, Large Blue and Large Copper,and such birds as Imperial Eagle, GoldenOriole, Red-backed Shrike and BlackWoodpecker. On one day we will also paya short visit to an old vineyard and enjoy atypical Hungarian goulash prepared by itsfriendly owner.For the latter half of our holiday we willmove south to our second base in theBükk National Park, stopping en route tovisit an old Cistercian Abbey, home to animportant colony of Lesser HorseshoeBats. The Bükk National Park protects alandscape of gentle forested hills andmeadows, noted particularly for its gorgesand numerous caves. This region holds anexceptionally diverse bat fauna, and onoccasions up to 14 different species canbe observed on a single night! During ourtime here we will visit a large house toobserve a colony of Geoffroy's, GreaterHorseshoe, Mediterranean Horseshoe andLesser Mouse-eared Bats and we willspend time one evening studying bats atone of Hungary's most important'swarming caves'. Species to look out formay include Alcathoe's, GreaterHorseshoe, Lesser Horseshoe,Mediterranean Horseshoe, Daubenton's,Pond, Bechstein's, Brandt's, Whiskered,Greater Mouse-eared, Lesser Mouse-eared, Geoffroy's, Natterer's, Barbastelleand Common Long-eared Bats. We willalso visit the baroque town of Eger toobserve a huge Noctule Bat colonyroosting under a road bridge.On one day we descend from the hills totake an evening boat trip on Lake Tisza tosearch for European Beaver. The numerouscanals, oxbow lakes and ponds here arehome to a wide variety of other wildlifeincluding plentiful dragonflies and birdssuch as Purple, Night and Squacco Herons,Great and Little Bitterns, Pygmy Cormorantsand Penduline Tits. En route we will stop atan expanse of grassland steppe known asthe 'Little Hortobágy'. Here we should beable to add European Souslik -a smalland endearing ground squirrel -to ourmammal tally along with Brown Hare andperhaps Muskrat or even the bizarre LesserMole Rat. Back in the hills we will join another smallmammal researcher to check dormousenestboxes in the hope of finding Edible,Forest or Hazel Dormouse. Then, finally,we must head back to Budapest to catchour flight home, although you might like toconsider extending your holiday for a fewdays to enjoy the sights and sounds ofHungary's beautiful capital city.Hungary's Bats, Mammals &other WildlifeAn unusual 8-day mammal-watching holiday to the rolling woodlands and meadows of northern Hungary in search of bats, rodents, larger mammals and an abundance of other wildlife.Monday 2nd September - Monday 9th September Cost: £1,495Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Budapest andtransfer AggtelekNational Park.Day 2/3Aggtelek National Park. Day 4/7Bükk National Park, andLittle Hortobágy.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable, but simple, hotels. Allrooms with private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. Easy to moderate day walks. FocusMammals (especially bats androdents), plus birds, butterflies andother wildlife.LeaderJon Stokes or Ed Drewitt, plus localguides.Single room supplement£165.Web quick search: HUN0578Call now or visit your free Trip ItinerarySLOVAKIAAUSTRIACROATIAROMANIABUDA HILLSBUDAPESTRIVER DANUBELAKETISZAAGGTELEKNATIONAL PARKTISZAFÜREDHORTOBÁGYNATIONAL PARKDEBRECENRIVER TISZALAKE VELENCELAKE BALATONHUNGARYKISKUNSÁGNATIONALPARKBÜKK HILLSNATIONAL PARKGeoffroy's BatsEuropean SouslikBükk National ParkSerotine Bat

Hungary's varied landscapes,abundant wildlife, rich folklore andexcellent wines combine to createthe perfect destination at any time of year.For the birdwatcher, however, one seasonstands out above the rest -the autumn.Each October over 50,000 CommonCranes gather on the steppes of theHortobágy on their way south to theirwintering grounds in North Africa. Thereare few experiences in the natural world torival the sight and sound of an eveningcrane roost and this exciting tour willposition you directly under their flight path!Add to this a supporting cast of wildfowl,raptors, waders - including Dotterel -and the mighty Great Bustard, and youhave all the ingredients for a spectacularweek of Magyar birdwatching.We will spend the first five days of theholiday in the Hortobágy National Parkwhich lies in the east of the country, somethree hours east of Budapest. In October,the puszta,a dry semi-natural grasslandbroken only by acacia copses,farmsteads, reed-fringed fish-ponds andgaggling flocks of white geese, plays hostto an exciting variety of birdlife. This is aflat land of distant horizons, dotted withisolated sweep wells and grazed upon byflocks of scruffy sheep, each with itsattendant walnut-faced shepherd andsmall 'puli' sheep-dog. Imperial andWhite-tailed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard,Saker Falcon, Merlin, Hen and MarshHarriers hunt over the plains flushingparties of Lapland Bunting, Twite and Red-throated Pipits as they go. Great Bustardsgather in groups here during the autumnand show well, whilst Spoonbills, GreatWhite Egrets, Bitterns and PygmyCormorants are still present around thehuge fish-pond systems. This is anexcellent month for waders too, as themany drained fish-ponds present carpetsof invertebrate-rich mud which attractGolden and Grey Plovers, flocks of Ruffand Spotted Redshank, plus Green, Wood and Curlew Sandpipers. Just as in Britain, October is an excellentmonth for rare and vagrant migrants, withsuch elusive species as Slender-billedCurlew now recorded over a dozen timeson the Hortobágy during this period. Largenumbers of ducks- particularly Gadwall,Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler andFerruginous Ducks-are attracted to thefish-ponds, and thousands of grey geese(mostly White-fronted and Bean Geeseaccompanied by smaller groups of LesserWhite-fronts) use the ponds as roosts. BothPenduline and Bearded Tits are residentand common around the edges of theendless reed beds, whilst an autumnspeciality of the Hortobágy is the collectionof confiding Dotterel flocks which remainhere until the first frosts of winter.Over the last decade, the number ofCommon Cranes passing through theHortobágy, on their way from breedinggrounds further north to their winterquarters in Africa, has steadily increased.Well over 50,000 now regularly spend theautumn in eastern Hungary, and onsuccessive evenings we will be in placejust before dusk to experience flight afterflight of Cranes, whistling and trumpetingas they pass low overhead from theirdaytime feeding areas to secure wetlandroosts. This is one of Europe's mostspectacular ornithological sights andsounds, and will no doubt be the highlightof the week for many.For the second part of our holiday we will transfer to the broad-leavedwoodlands of the Bükk Hills in the north ofthe country, close to the Slovakian border. The Bükk National Park protects one of Hungary's most scenic regions and itsrolling landscape of forested hills,vineyards and quaint villages offers adramatic contrast to the flat lands of theHortobágy and the great HungarianSteppe. Our hotel is situated in a smalland traditional wine-producing village withbirds such as Serin, Black Redstart andHawfinch typically amongst the gardenbirds. We will also head a little furtherafield, however, and explore thesurrounding forests in search of Black,Middle Spotted, Grey-headed, Syrian andthe localised White-backed Woodpecker,plus Hawfinch, Goshawk, Eastern ImperialEagle and Short-toed Treecreeper. For those wishing to extend their stay wewould recommend a couple of nights inBudapest, Hungary's beautiful and vibrantcapital. Here you may choose to spendsome time exploring the historic CastleDistrict or perhaps end your holiday withan evening cruise down the Danube - afitting finale to autumn in Hungary!Autumn in HungaryAn 8-day birdwatching tour to enjoy the spectacular migration of Cranes through the Hortobágy,together with wildfowl, raptors and Great Bustards.Tuesday 9th October - Tuesday 16th October 2012 Cost: £1,295Wednesday 16th October - Wednesday 23rd October 2013 Cost: £1,395 Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationSLOVAKIAAUSTRIACROATIAROMANIABUDA HILLSBUDAPESTRIVER DANUBELAKETISZAGYÖRGYÕSAGGTELEKNATIONAL PARKMISKOLCTISZAFÜREDHORTOBÁGYNATIONAL PARKDEBRECENRIVER TISZALAKE VELENCELAKE BALATONHUNGARYKISKUNSÁGNATIONALPARKBÖRZSÖNYHILLSBÜKKHILLSOutline itinerary Day 1Fly Budapest andtransfer Hortobágy. Day 2/5Hortobágy NationalPark. Day 6/7Bükk National Park. Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotels with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Day walks only.FocusBirds.LeaderGeoff Carr, plus local guides.Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsArranged on request. Extra nightsin Budapest recommended andworthwhile.Web quick search: HUN0179Common CranesLong-eared OwlCommon Crane