Our final day of the Zeiss Victory SF tour started on the bus at 4:30 am. We drove for over three hours to a site well south of Budapest, Hungary. The border stop provided us with our first good looks at Crested Larks. These attractive larks commonly inhabit the fields and roadside edges. There was little time to look at them though as we continued the long drive. Our first stop was a great one. We parked along a rural road just outside a tiny town. There we immediately found several Lesser Grey Shrikes. These birds look much like our Loggerhead Shrikes, except they are warmer grey tone in the back and crown. They also show a distinct pinkish wash (photo) to the belly and upper chest.
Also present there were a few European Rollers. These handsome birds are overall sky blue color, slightly darker than Bee-eaters with contrasting reddish-brown wings and back. Rollers are fairly large, being slightly bigger and rather stockier than a Western Scrub-Jay. They are named for their looping roller-coaster-like display flights, which we got to see briefly, sadly only at great distance. Also present at this site was a hunting Little Owl that kept popping up onto a distant fence post. A pair of lovely Stonechats flew about the margins of a rough field edge. Continue reading