March 2009 Aggtelek

This was an early visit to Aggtelek because management work in the National Park has to end by March 15th to take account of nesting birds. We continued with the task of opening up the neglected pastures in the deserted village of Acskó and later started a task at a new site, opening up the plum orchards above the village of Tornakápolna.

We continued to develop our connections with the National Park staff and the people of Szögliget and went into the local school on the last day to present the school with a set of handlenses and collecting pots – and in return the children sang us songs. The Mayor of the village visited us to tell the group about the village and her aspirations for it. We visited a beef farm nearby belonging to the Mayor of a neighbouring village. Farm animals are rare species in this area.

We were treated to a day out in the restricted zone of the National Park to look for signs of wolves – a deer carcase and three piles of dung were evidence that there are wolves about. Two of our group were lucky enough to see a Lynx while cycling quietly through the hills bordering on Slovakia. The wintering birds were a delight – very large flocks of Hawfinches and a small group of Waxwings were the highlight in Aggtelek but the bird list of 93 species was considerably boosted by the waterbirds we saw during our brief stay in Fertö-Hanság National Park in the west of Hungary. We stayed at Fertö-Hanság for two nights on the way to the station at Vienna.


Graham Brown J Sayers
Joan Smith M Furniss
Nicola Simpson Rachael Thornley
Alan Sumnall Poppy Wood
Tom Read Species List

May 2009 Aggtelek

This was another chance to see this fantastic area with the animals and plants at their best. Our task was to carry out a mark and recapture study of two species of Fritillary butterflies – Melitaea phoebe (Knapweed Fritillary) andMelitaea telona – under the supervision of our friend from Debrecen University Janos Tòth and his Professor Zoltan Varga. This was pretty intensive work, but we carried out nine days of it – the report of the work is due to be published shortly. We were able to see 72 species of butterflies including several of the stunning Polar Admirals (Limenitis populi) and were also able to record 181 species of moths including the Giant Peacock Moth, as big as a large bat!

Further highlights included another wolf-tracking visit to the hinterland of the National Park with wolf expert Adam Szábo, during which we saw a family of Ural Owls and witnessed a fly-past by thousands of Painted Lady butterflies, the eastern European part of the massive northward passage of this species in May 2009. We also visited a quarry with a Bee-eater colony in it – brilliant to watch these birds at such close quarters – and heard the chorus of Fire-Bellied Toads calling from the pool below the entrance to the Võrõs-to cave. We were also treated to a traditional potato pancake meal in Jósvafõ, the village that houses the HQ of the National Park and where we always go for the carriage ride drawn by the famous Hucul horses on the last day of our stay.

Ann Collier J Bradley
Jess Chappell Linda Meadows
Richard Collier Richard Muirhead
Stephanie Rogers Rachel Conway
Wendy Astill Sam Hyde-Roberts
David Norfolk Richard’s Poem
Species List Butterfly List