Reports, with Bird Lists, of our Meetings, Walks and Outings

Hungary Birds - A Jewel in Europe
Mary Braddock

Date: Thursday 15 November 2018 at 19:30


Thirty-five people attended this meeting at which Mary Braddock gave an illustrated talk titled Hungary Birds – A Jewel in Europe.  Mary’s talk focussed on the river Tisza flood plain, the Great Hungarian Plain and the reedbeds and ponds of the Hortobagy National Park.

The quality of Mary's photographs was excellent and she enriched her presentation by drawing attention to often overlooked features of many common species.  Her photographs of little egrets clearly showed the beautiful feathers that made this bird such a target for the milliners of the 19th and early 20th century and led to the establishment of the RSPB in an attempt to protect little egrets from looming extermination.  Well done to the fledgling suffragette movement!

A variety of herons, woodpeckers, waders, prey birds and song birds made for a wide ranging and fascinating look at the birds of Hungary.  Perhaps the highlights were the great bustards that are still found on the central plains but unfortunately only manage to survive on well patrolled and secured nature reserves.  Even in Hungary, which is still relatively under-developed, many species of birds are severely threatened by modern farming methods, development of land and hunting.

Thankfully there is an active conservation movement in Hungary trying to preserve some of the old rural ways in order to protect its bird life.

Mary’s presentation was entertaining and informative and her passion for the country and its wildlife was evident.

What’s About

Ken Cottam read a report from Brian Clews about recent interesting bird sightings in the local area:

Queen Mother Reservoir – Caspian gull
Little Marlow gravel pits – 15 Little egrets
Black Park, Slough – 108 Mandarin ducks, 6 crossbills
Maidenhead – Peregrine again on BT building, West Street
Dinton Pastures – Ferruginous duck, 41 snipe, 2 water rails, 2 barn owls at nest box
Theale gravel pits – 8 Little egrets

It was announced at the meeting that Peter Gaines, who usually presents “What’s About”, is retiring from the committee at the end of December 2018.  Peter joined the group at its outset in 1974 and has been an active volunteer with the group for 44 years.  Peter’s enthusiasm for RSPB activities will be sorely missed


--- Original Programme Information ---
Great bustardGreat bustard


We take a look at the floodplains of the great River Tisza, the birds and wildlife that these wetlands support together with the specialities of the plains and surrounding woodlands. These make a varied and fascinating talk about this land-locked country. After several visits at different times of the year, this talk explores breeding plans and successes of many species.


The Kiskunsag National Park was created in 1975 and stretches across the Great Hungarian Plain. The talk includes pictures of the habitat and species that are either resident in or migratory to this important reserve and includes many water birds and raptors. The Hortobagy National Park, created in 1973, has Phragmite reedbeds and old fish ponds covering vast areas that provide breeding grounds for many species of heron but also roosting grounds for species such as common crane in winter. Hungary has 99% of Europe’s total protected surface of Puszta plains and we visit this interesting landscape, exploring the species found there.

Ferruginous duck
Ferruginous duck

Mary Braddock's Bio

Mary has volunteered with the RSPB for well over 20 years, having been a Group Leader for 15 of those years and now working with the Farnham & Hazeley Heath RSPB Reserves helping with the processes required to manage lowland heath. Having retired from the NHS as a Nurse Practitioner, Mary now has more time to give to the RSPB but also to get photographs of wildlife and landscape. Mary has used her photography to illustrate talks for nine years, covering the many different places visited during that time.


All pictures are © Copyright. Do not reproduce without permission from Mary Braddock.