For wildlife photographers, the wildlife of the Hortobágy National Park makes this region of Hungary a must-visit destination. Covering 800 square kilometres, it is home to a great variety of wildlife, including white-tailed eagles, white storks & a multitude of rare & endangered species of birds.
Wildlife photographers visiting the region can capture genuinely breathtaking shots of the wildlife of the Hortobágy in their natural habitats, & for this reason alone, it stands out as one of the top locations for wildlife photography.
Where is the Hortobágy National Park?
Hortobágy National Park is located in Eastern Hungary & is home to a mixture of habitats, some of which are found nowhere else on the planet. This 800 square kilometre park stretches from the Great Plain in the south to the floodplain in the north. It is just one of the many protected areas in Hungary & is considered the most extensive semi-natural grassland in the world. The park is known for its diverse species of birds, plants, & animals & is a popular destination for bird photography.
The history of Hortobágy National Park goes back to the ninth century when it was used as pasture land for livestock. In the sixteenth century, it became part of the dominion of Zsigmond of Transylvania. Over the centuries, the area has seen its share of human activity, including land reclamation & intensive farming, which have altered the landscape considerably.
However, the park was able to preserve its unique features & is now a popular spot for those looking to take in some of the best nature photography that Hungary offers.
What is the Puszta of Hungary?
The Puszta of Hungary is an expanse of flat, sandy plain in the Great Alfold region of the country. It covers an area of around 62,000 square kilometres or a sixth of Hungary's total area. This unique landscape is known for its striking appearance, ranging from rolling hills & glassy lakes to vast open plains & flat wetlands. It is filled with various wildlife, from foxes & otters to birds such as great bustards, honey buzzards, & great white egrets. Many farmsteads dot the landscape, providing an insight into the traditional lifestyle of Hungary's rural people.
What animals live in Hortobagy National Park?
The lush wetlands & floodplains of the Hortobágy National Park provide an ideal habitat for many distinctive wildlife species. In addition to the abundance of birds that inhabit the area, the park is also well-known for its wild horses & grey cattle population. It is said that the native breed of domesticated livestock found here has been bred since the early 18th century, making these animals genuinely unique.
The wildlife of the Hortobágy includes several rare & endangered species, including the European ground squirrel, or souslik, the Eurasian eagle owl, the white-tailed eagle & the great bustard. These animals are believed to be remnants of the megafauna that once populated the region. They can be observed in their natural environment during wildlife-photography tours of the area.
The Hortobágy National Park is a great place to look out for predatory birds, such as the northern goshawk, the black kite, the red-footed falcon & others.
The White-Tailed Eagles of the Hortobágy National Park
The white-tailed eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in Europe & one of the most spectacular birds in the Hortobágy National Park. These majestic birds of prey have a wingspan of up to 2.5m & are an impressive sight in the skies above the park. The white-tailed eagle feeds mainly on fish & carrion but will also take the occasional mammal or bird.
These eagles can be seen soaring above the lakes & rivers of the park, hunting for their next meal. With their striking white tail & wings, they are a beautiful sight to behold. The Hortobágy National Park is a great place to watch these impressive raptors in their natural environment.
Are the White-Tailed Eagles of the Hortobágy National Park endangered?
White-tailed eagles are among the most endangered bird species in the world today, & the Hortobágy National Park in Hungary is home to some of the last remaining wild populations. These majestic birds are listed as decreasing in number due to various factors, such as reduced food availability, pollution, & habitat destruction.
As a result, conservationists fear their numbers are dwindling, & the species is on the brink of extinction. In the past year, conservation efforts in the Hortobágy National Park have been ramped up to protect & monitor the white-tailed eagle populations in the area, with studies & efforts to improve their habitat being conducted. Nevertheless, a greater understanding of the species & its habitat is necessary to protect & reverse any further losses.
What is the diet of the White-Tailed Eagles of the Hortobágy National Park?
The White-Tailed Eagles of the Hortobágy National Park have a varied diet consisting of fish, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, & other birds. These majestic birds of prey feed primarily in open waters & hunt around shallow waters, marshes, & floodplains. In the park, they can be seen catching carp, catfish, & other fish living in the shallow waters of the rivers & ponds.
The Eagles also feed on rodents, hares, pheasants, larks, partridges, & other birds. Moreover, they also forage for food in garbage dumps as well as in the open fields. The diet of the White-Tailed Eagles of the Hortobágy National Park is thus diverse & is reflective of the abundance of food sources available in the area.
What trips does NaturesLens schedule to photograph the wildlife of the Hortobágy National Park?
NaturesLens schedules an annual visit for photography holidays focussed on capturing images of the wildlife of the Hortobágy National Park; our trips are designed to allow photographers of all levels to capture the national park's wildlife. The Hortobágy National Park tour is generally conducted in January or February when the eagles are most active.
At NaturesLens, we aim to provide photographers with an unforgettable experience that will leave them with beautiful, memorable images. Our trips are led by experienced wildlife photographers who are passionate about wildlife photography & are dedicated to helping photographers capture the best images possible.
About the images used in this article
All the images displayed above were taken by Robin Lowry, who has kindly allowed us to use them. Robin guided this wildlife photography holiday for us to Hungary in January 2023; during this time, he captured hundreds of high-quality images of the wildlife of this fascinating region of Hungary.