Katalin Schäfer and I met in 2011 when she first started touring through the United States as an international dance artist and fashion designer. In case you haven’t figured it out…when I’m not birding or spending time with my cockatoo kids, I’m dancing: http://amalaraqs.com I was one Katalin’s original organizers/ sponsors in the States and then started assisting with organizing her annual North American tour. It wasn’t long before we realized we had a lot more than dance in common with one another. We remain very close friends no matter how far away from each other we live and travel; we always make it a point to stay in touch. One of the things we have in common is our ancestry. My great-grandparents immigrated from Hungary before WWI. Katalin has always left an open invitation for me to visit her and stay with her in Budapest but this was the first time I was able to take her up on it! I had an amazing time learning about Hungarian culture, music, dance, food, history and of course, its beautiful birds!
On Tuesday, August 8, 2017 Katalin and I woke up early to explore the Pilis Mountains in the Dobogókő area for a peaceful hike while searching for new birds. We both enjoyed great views of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Eurasian Blue Tits while be swarmed by adorable Eurasian Nuthatches. When we reached an opening on the trail we were greeted by beautiful Black Redstarts over the campsites with Eurasian Magpies in the distance. These species are all quite common but because this was my very first trip to Europe all of these birds were new and exciting to me.
Before my trip I had downloaded the Birds of Eastern Europe App on my iPhone but I wish I had downloaded the Collins Bird Guide. I was able to figure out what I was observing fairly easily by process of elimination but the Collins Bird Guide would’ve made my Hungarian birding quest a lot more enjoyable.