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Situated in the far north of Hungary, Aggtelek National Park and Biosphere Reserve lies on the border with Slovakia on the Gomor-Torna karst plateau.
The unusual geology of this region has led to it becoming famous as a caving area with some of the most extensive cave systems in Europe, and the adjoining part of Slovakia is a World Heritage Site.
Although it is not often regarded as a birding destination there are good numbers of several raptor species in this area and a range of other birds of interest. The valleys are now mainly converted to agriculture but the hillsides still have large areas of deciduous forest. There are also rocky hillsides and gorges and some wet meadows in the valley-bottoms.
Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle all breed in the region as well as European Honey Buzzard and Goshawk. Ural Owl occurs in variable numbers depending on rodent populations and has bred in good years. In 2001 a male Pygmy Owl held territory and a pair was present again in March-May 2002. Black Stork is a rare summer visitor, White Stork rather commoner. Forest birds include Hazel Grouse (Hungary's stronghold for this species), and woodpeckers such as Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker and Middle Spotted Woodpecker.
Nutcracker is a scarce winter visitor. Pinewoods in the area have Common Firecrest, Willow Tit (rare in Hungary), and Crested Tit. Corncrake breeds in the valleys and Rock Bunting on the rocky hillsides. Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher occur beside freshwater and can be seen at the pond close to the Josvafo Cave and a lake to the east of Szalonna has Little Bittern.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Bittern, Black Stork, White Stork, European Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Hazel Grouse, Common Quail, Common Pheasant, Corncrake, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Ural Owl, Long-eared Owl, Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Wryneck, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Wood Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Barn Swallow, Tree Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Common Wren, Dunnock, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Eurasian River Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Barred Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Common Jay, Common Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Common Starling, Chaffinch, Brambling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Common Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Yellowhammer, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Just north of Josvafo is the field study centre of Kutatoallomas and Hazel Grouse can be seen in the woods around here. This area may have been home to Hungary's last breeding Common Dipper which were still present in the mid-1990s but the species is now virtually extinct in Hungary. Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush may also still occur.
Access and Facilities
Aggtelek is about 50km north of Miskolc and reached on Route 27 or minor roads from Kazincbarcika. Access to the park is unrestricted, there is a network of paths and a nature trail between the two entrances of the Aggtelek-Josvafo Cave. The villages of Aggtelek and Josvafo have hotel accommodation and Aggtelek also has a campsite.
Content and images originally posted by Steve