A city as a birding hotspot

Geese over Tata, HUngary

by Gyorgy Szimuly on November 5, 2010 · 4 comments

in Birding Western Palearctic

Geese  over Tata, Hungary

While I’ve been with an urge to explore  new and exotic birding destinations, I live in a city of an annually repeated birding spectacle. It is seasonal but the 4-5 winter months  make this little town stand out compared to other European urban areas.

Imagine this lake which is almost entirely surrounded by houses, roads, city lights are reflecting in the water in the dark and yet tens of thousands of waterbirds are retuning every evening to the lake for night roosting. The Old Lake of Tata is about a 200 hectares large water body, used for fishery purposes, is drained every winter. The mudflats and a central mud island attracts the majority of the birds like wild geese, ducks and gulls.

While in the ’80s Bean Goose was dominant today the Greater White-fronted Goose ensures the nomination for being this Ramsar site an internationally important wetland. All in all the population in the last five years is stable peaked at 32,000 geese (2008/09) (the lowest maximum was 25,400 in the winter of 2007/08, source: DINPI).

While this significant and important shelter will never be mentioned in the list of world’s top 100 birding destinations, it is definitely a highly recommended site to visit anytime between November and February. While I am writing these lines about 3,500 wild geese were flushed. The blast makes an incredible noise. I hear it from my room even when the windows are closed. They are so close to me. In a month the same will happen every night by 10 times more birds than today. Just breathtaking! It is something what every birdwatcher should experience at least once in a lifetime! Over 10 thousands people will feel this atmosphere on the last Saturday of November during the 10th Wild Geese Festival at the Old Lake.

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