I spent two full days in the Hortobágy Nemzeti (National) Park, in a superb Red-footed Falcon hide, up four metres at eye level with the falcons who were nesting in boxes opposite the hide on one side, and a very eager Hoopoe visiting me many times a day on the other side. It was really just checking out the competition (its own reflection in the window pane) and making sure there would be no imposters. It is a beautiful bird to watch and admire. And photograph.
So are the Falcons, they are small in size yet very imposing. Their symmetry is faultless and colouring most sophisticated. I followed this one couple for two days, and the first day, caught them very busy mating, I witnessed six times. Even on the second day, they mated at least three times. There were three eggs in the box so pretty soon they would probably not be mating anymore.
The Red-footed Falcons in this particular bit of woods and farmland had very good hunting grounds just next to their nesting box. The field is full of mice and moles, and big insects for the Red-footed to feed on.
The only drawback with the hide was the heat, at noon it started to get almost unbearably hot and the heat lasted well into the evening. There was thunder and lightning on both evenings, the second evening also had some good rain. I was lucky to have the two good shooting days.
The entire Hortobágy Park population of Red-footed Falcons is 150 – 200 pairs, and near the hide about 15-20 pairs breeding (2007).
More about the Hortobágy Park at www.hnp.hu
Despite the meager hardships a wildlife photographer faces at times, I wouldn’t change a day. I have followed birds all my life, first twitching, gradually moving into photography, and professional since 2005. What is frustrating is living with the “almost” shots, and “almost perfect” shots. You don’t know about them because the ‘almost’ photos don’t get published but I have to live with the shots I missed. But it is good to download the material and wade through it, to find a couple of shots that are satisfying, and the occasional Yes! Got that! Wow! moments are fantastic.
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.