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North East Hungary Floating Hide

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Sunrise over the Steppes of Hortobágy National Park...

In July I visited North Eastern Hungary in order to photograph a few of Europe's most colorful bird species. On top of that, I was promised that there were some good areas where i could use my Mr.Jan Gear Floating Hide. Through an organization called Wild Pix I booked my stay at " Puszta Eldorado" in Tiszagyenda. This small-scale ecotourist camp is runned by a Dutch couple: Hellen and Sjors Streur. In the neighbourhood they have several hides for bird photography and the first one I tried was a hide in a sand pit, which is a nesting site for European Bee-eater. I wasn't disappointed...!

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" Oops, what's happening here...?"

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"...save landing, no worries...."

I have been using floating hides for some years already. The first ones I've built myself and they were fine and doing their job, since I was in the water with it, but to put it together and to transport it was another thing...

One day I heard a comment from David Pattyn, who was using a so-called Mr.Jan Gear Floating Hide and he was very happy with it. So I bought one myself, it's not cheap but it works perfectly, transport is light, compact and building it up is easy. On this trip I have been using it a couple of times on Tisza Lake. We (Sjors Streur and I) drove to Tiszafüred first, rented a boat and went into the lake, which is actually a myriad of canals, small lakes, reedbeds and lots of waterplants. Yellow-hearted Water Lilly was blooming right now.

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On our way to Tisza Lake. Floating hide lies on top...

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Tipping it over the side is easy, because it is light weight... 

In the water I use an old dry suit, which is the best option I think (specially when the water is getting deeper or/ and colder.

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On my way to interesting waterbirds....

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The Mr.Jan Gear Floating Hide (with me in it) in action... photo by Sjors Streur

In the floating hide I used a Nikon D500 camera and Nikkor 500 mm lense. The most dominant bird during my stay on Tisza Lake was the Whiskered Tern, one of the three species of Marsh terns. They were breeding on Water Lillies, foraging with hundreds at the same time and they were all around me and the presence of the floating hide didn't seem to bother them at all.

Some Results:

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in a field of Yellow-hearted Lillies....

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They were dancing all around me, foraging above beds of waterplants...

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Of course a lot of Herons were present as well:

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Squacco Heron....

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Grey Heron in a field of Water Fringe (or Yellow-hearted Lilly)

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Black-crowned Night Heron...

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Purple Heron...

Because it was close by, relatively, I visited Hortobágy National Park a couple of times. It is one of Europe's natural treasures with a lot of birds which are preying on large insects, like Hoopoe, Roller, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-footed Falcon etc.

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female Syrian Spotted Woodpecker, a common bird of parks and gardens...

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Roller, one of Europe's most colorful birds...

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a high key picture of a flying Roller...

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Family Roe Deer....

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Common Kestrel with prey...

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a pair of Kestrels..

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a calling male Pheasant..

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The steppes were teeming with Lesser grey Shrikes. This one is a juvenile...

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female Redfooted Falcon in evening light...

Redfooted Falcons are breeding in colonies and in the National Park they do use nest boxes, like Common Kestrels do.

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Two young Redfooted Falcons in the box and two outside, all four screeming for food, when they see their mother arrving with a fresh grasshopper...

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juvenile Little Owl between a pile of hay stacks...

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Like an actor on stage...