Having jumped around a bit while writing up my trip to Hungarysharing a few galleries, a trip to find an elusive woodpecker, and the most exciting news in optics since Galileo discovered Jupiter’s moons – I thought it was time to go back to the beginning of the trip and proceed chronologically. We Americans on the trip – Clay Taylor, Jeffrey Gordon, Gus Axelson, and I – landed a day before our fellow travelers to give us a chance to adapt to the big change in time zones. That extra day was spent at Sarokház Panzió, a small hotel on the outskirts of Budapest close to the airport. As far as hotels go it was alright, with free wireless internet being the highlight, though the huge vacant lots now overgrown with wildflowers that were behind the hotel were a nice amenity that I imagine most guests do not appreciate.

There were quite a few common birds in the fields, the business park, and the residential area in the vicinity. Eurasian Collared-Doves and Wood Pigeons couldn’t be missed, Eurasian Tree Sparrows were ubiquitous, European Goldfinch and European Greenfinch were easy to spot, White Wagtails walked along wagging their tails, and Northern Wheatears and European Golden Orioles both had fledglings that they were tending.

European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus

We spent quite a bit of time back behind the hotel, not wanting to venture further afield because of the jet lag we were feeling and our need to sleep. Our time ended up paying off as we were treated to a flyover Northern Lapwing and a family of Syrian Woodpeckers, one of the birds we had hoped for on the trip.

But what was most cooperative during our short stay at Sarokház Panzió were the butterflies. Beautiful, beautiful, butterflies. I would like to put names to them but my knowledge of butterflies on my home continent is poor enough and what limited butterfly identification faculties I have are overtaxed entirely when I am dealing with butterflies from a completely new country. If you know what these butterflies are I will be eternally grateful if you would let me know their identities in the comments. (Jochen has since tentatively identified three of the four – please feel free to correct him if you think he is wrong and to try to get the blue.)

Small Copper aka American Copper aka Common Copper Lycaena phlaeas

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Marbled White Melanargia galathea

The same butterfly is above and below – what is this blue?

What else did we see behind Sarokház Panzió? Great Tits. Blue Tits. Eurasian Blackbirds. Eurasian Magpies. Black Redstarts. Stonechats. And, well, you get the idea. It was a great way to gradually get into the idea that we had left the United States far behind but there weren’t so many birds that we were overwhelmed.

Great Tit Parus major

For those who might be making a brief stop in Budapest, maybe an overnight layover, you can choose worse places to stay than Sarokház Panzió. The rooms were clean, there is a restaurant with decent food and $2 beers, and it is five minutes from the airport and they will give you a free transfer. You can also talk them into a ride into Budapest and have them come back to pick you up hours later for $50, which seemed a pretty good deal.

young Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

My week-long trip to Hungary was a familiarity trip organized by the wonderful folks at Swarovski Optik to introduce their new line of superior spotting scopes, the ATX and the STX modular telescopes. We visited Hortobágy National Park, the Bükk Hills and places in between. Many thanks to Swarovski Optik for inviting me along and letting me experience both some awesome new optics and the natural wonders of the wonderful country of Hungary.


Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.