We were all a bit bushed after climbing up through the beech woods of Day 3 – or maybe it was the winetasting that did it? Have you ever had a red Dunaj from Slovakia? Quite a surprise – and an entirely pleasant one.
Day 4 was a relaxed tour around some more wetland sites. The one pictured above did, indeed produce Ferruginous Ducks and booming Bittern for us as well as lots of breeding waders; Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe.
We were taken to see a Black Stork sitting on a nest in some beautiful, and fast-disappearing, riverine woodland. In the same wood there were Turtle Doves purring away as they once did in southern Britain and Clouded Apollo butterflies skimmed over the grassland and never seemed to stop. Bee-eaters called above our heads and a Barred Warbler sang from the bushes.
The whole Slovakian birding experience was a mixture of being transported in space and time. We were clearly in the east because we saw Red-footed Falcon, Lesser-spotted Eagle, Barred Warbler, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher but it also felt like going back in time, to a time I cannot remember, where the hedgerows had Red-backed Shrikes, and Cuckoos and Turtle Doves were almost always in earshot, and in the fields and towns Tree Sparrows rivalled House Sparrows in abundance.
And then there were villages like Bocianopolis – the town of storks (White Storks).
Altogether Slovakia has a lot to offer the UK birder.
And on our last day we looked around Kosice itself and found that even the houses are decorated with birds.
Back at the airport a Fieldfare was still singing – I wonder whether it will welcome me back one day.