BATS BY DAY AND NIGHT
Join us on this bat watching holiday that provides an exciting programme for anyone who is enthusiastic about these special creatures. Our tour offers the chance to see up to 22 species of bat in one of the most diverse locations in Europe. In addition, we will see some great birds and butterflies in this very scenic part of Hungary, close to the Slovakian border.
On our tour we will be accompanied by leading scientific researchers and national park staff. Their local knowledge will be invaluable. We will make visits to colonies and roosts as part of an on-going monitoring scheme; exciting new discoveries are being made all the time. This tour is ground-breaking and should appeal to both bat enthusiasts and beginners hoping to learn about these fascinating creatures.
The history of the Bükk National Park can be traced back to the Palaeozoic era, when the edge of today's Carpathian Basin sank. It was covered by the sea for about 70 million years, followed by geological uplifting to produce the limestone mountains found today. A labyrinth of caves has developed and about 800 have been explored, so far.
As well as natural caves, bats use old and abandoned buildings. By special permit, we will visit a number of roost and breeding sites, some located in spectacular old buildings.
The diversity of landscape and climate here has generated an unparalleled richness of Eastern European flora and fauna. Although principally a bat watching trip, we will also spend time looking for birds that should include Eastern Imperial Eagle and Saker Falcon. As many as eight different woodpecker species dwell in the Bükk National Park, while such birds as Collared Flycatcher, Hawfinch, Ural and Eagle Owl occur in the ancient beech forests. Our record of finding these species has been excellent in the past. We have seen Barred Warbler, Red-backed Shrike and Hoopoe in open countryside and Fire Salamander is common, especially after rain.
Our base in a single hotel will mean no re-packing cases and no time lost in travelling between hotels.
BÜKK NATIONAL PARK
Arriving at Budapest, we are greeted by our guide and take a short drive towards the Bükk National Park area, watching out for Eastern Imperial Eagle on the way. Depending on our arrival time, we should be able to visit a nearby cave which is the hibernating site of Lesser and Greater Horseshoe Bats. On the walls of the cave, we will see signs left by Schreiber’s Bat; in the past, they formed a very large colony here. The cave itself has been studied by several palaeontologists, who have described a rich ancient mammalian fauna.
On day two we will visit the Cistercian Abbey in Bélapátfalva, and its valuable Lesser Horseshoe Bat colony. Built in 1232, the abbey itself is the best preserved Romanesque church in Hungary. After this we will have a trip to Bélkő, an abandoned limestone mine. The untouched surroundings of the mine have many interesting wildflowers, and are one of the last breeding sites for Rock Thrush in Hungary.
We will then visit a very significant colony of Geoffrey’s, Greater Horseshoe, Mediterranean Horseshoe and Lesser Mouse-eared Bats. After watching the colony we can take a short walk in the nearby Lázbérc Protected Area, where we will see the beautiful Lake Lázbérci. In the evening we will mist-net in a valley of the Bükk Mountains which is the habitat of many interesting bat species, including Alcathoe’s, Bechstein’s, Brandt’s, Whiskered, Natterer’s, Barbastelle and Common Long-eared.
Our next day takes us to a Serotine Bat colony in Felsőtárkány. You should also have the chance to taste some local wines here (vines of Eger and Tokaj). In the strictly protected Bükk Plateau, we will see the characteristic karst landscape, and we may be lucky enough to see the famous Lipizzaner horses.
In the evening we will observe bats at one of the most diverse swarming caves in Hungary. With a little luck 14 bat species can be noted on a single night! These may include Alcathoe’s, Pond, Bechstein’s, Brandt’s, Whiskered, Mediterranean Horseshoe, Daubenton’s, Greater Mouse-eared, Lesser Mouse-eared, Geoffrey’s, Natterer’s and Barbastelle.
The fantastic lowland wetland area of Borsodi Mezőség holds colonies of Greater Mouse-eared Bats that we can visit on day four. One of the churches has a beautiful and unique ceiling consisting of 231 different, hand painted wooden panels. In the evening we will do some mist-netting close to our hotel, where in 1993, the Greater Noctule was rediscovered after a 60 year absence in Hungary. Many forest and building-dwelling bat species are possible here.
On day five we will look for bats in Eger, one of the country's oldest cities. Full of Baroque architecture and grand buildings, it has over 200 historical monuments. We will visit a Noctule colony at a viaduct. We will go to the attic of the old college to see Greater Horseshoe, Greater Mouse-eared and Grey Long-eared Bats. We will visit the specula observatory in the same building where a famous camera obscura can be found. With the help of this equipment (installed in 1779) we will see some beautiful scenes of the city. In the city park Scops Owl breed most years.
Mist-netting and using bat detectors at the Eger brook provides a good chance to see and hear Kuhl’s Pipistrelle and Savi’s Pipistrelle; both northward spreading Mediterranean species.
The Mátra Mountains, not far from the Bükk, has a colony of Lesser Horseshoe Bats that we will visit on day six. We will also pass by a sphagnum marsh near the ruins of the 700 year-old Sirok Castle. We then visit one of the two known Hungarian colonies of Parti-coloured Bat. Although late in the year, there is a chance that one or two still remain. We can also watch the emergence of a very important colony of Schreiber’s and Greater Mouse-eared Bats from a mine.
On day seven, we return to Budapest hoping to locate some birds en route. In the past, we have seen Saker and Eastern Imperial Eagle, as well as many Marsh Harriers and White Storks.
Basic fitness is all that is required. Day-long bat and birdwatching excursions will be made with short walks, some uphill, but at a sensible pace. Protective helmets will be provided for visiting bat roosts, and you are not expected to handle any animals.
Full-board accommodation is provided in the Hotel Nomad. All rooms have en suite bathrooms. We will normally take breakfast at about 7.30am. However, following late evening bat watching we have a later breakfast. Lunch will normally be a picnic.
PRICE INCLUDES …..
All excursions with expert leader and local guides, full-board accommodation (starting with lunch on 1st, ending with lunch on 7th), soft drinks at meal times, local transport by mini-bus, permits, international flights and airport taxes.
Our optional travel insurance, payable at the time of booking. Items of a personal nature, alcoholic drinks, laundry.
Return flight from London Heathrow to Budapest using the scheduled services of British Airways. Outbound flight departs early morning, with return landing mid-evening. It may also be possible to join this tour directly from other airports; please contact our office for details. Shuttle flights are available on this tour for Ł70 return (due at time of booking), from Manchester and other regional airports. However, due to the flight times it may be necessary to stay overnight at Heathrow. Please call for details.
Maximum group size:
Cost with discount
(if you book before
18th April 2009):
1st to 7th August 2009
10 clients with one leader
and a local guide
Ł1380 per person sharing
Ł1480 per person sharing
Ł26 due at time of booking
(Ł39 for age 65 to 69)
(Ł52 for age 70 and over)
The photos below were sent to us by our local guides in Hungary.