Wild Goose Festival in Hungarian Tata

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The 13th Wild Goose Festival took place on the last November Day in Hungarian town Tata close to Slovak borders. Tata is situated at a large lake. Thousands of geese gather at this lake during winter to overnight here. To watch their early morning take off and evening return is a spectacular show.

Although we came before the dawn, the parking place at the lake was nearly full. The official banner of the festival on the left.

On Saturday cloudy morning a huge flock of geese was present at the lake. They are here already for several weeks and are ready to stay until spring comes, if the weather conditions will be favorable for them. We recognized Greylags, White-fronted and Bean Geese in a first glance. Approximately 20 minutes after our arrival several thousands of geese took off and with a loud cackle they flew to the surrounding country to feed.

The festival took place at the bank of the lake. Two big tents hosted activities for children, the information desk and shop of the MME (Hungarian BirdLife partner), bird photo exhibition, and lecture room. Between those two tents were many smaller stands. Those presented close protected areas, offered ornithological goods or food and drinks. Near the path boards in Hungarian and English with the information about the site and species, which can be seen here, were installed.

Gently frozen early morning visitors appreciated the offer of hot drinks.

People can buy various things in stands. This one offered many types of feeders and ornithological literature.

All of them tried to focus their goods on the main driver of the festival – geese.

Even the stands with unusual sweet treats managed to offer something goosy.

At the big lake in Tata were counted 27 000 geese. In the beginning of this week there were 30 000 of them, but cold weather probably caused their shift to other sites. Today geese were counted in the whole Hungary. In the morning the organizers phoned to counts coordinators in other regions to find out the registered numbers of geese. Together up to 336 000 geese were recorded this day. Most of them – 150 000 were recorded at Hortobágy and close water reservoirs at the Tisza River.

Many activities took place in the area of the festival during all day, e.g. bird ringing. Here a hunting with a raptor demonstration. The raptor did not cooperate very much…

In one of the big tents was a bird photo exhibition.

Many activities were prepared for children, such as drawing, gluing, feather determination or various quizzes. Here the wooden geese race.

During lunch we went to see the town. There are many interesting monuments there. Around the lake there are numerous water canals for mills. Many of them are well-preserved.

We went to smaller lake surrounded by a beautiful old English park.

The park is full of interesting buildings: summer mansion of the Esterházy family, reconstructed green house, artificial cave or fake castle ruins. Tata is build on the place of old thermal spa, which were used by Romans.

Afterwards we went back to the lake. Besides flocks of ducks and geese a Curlew (Numenius arquata) constantly fed on a nearby muddy bottom.

We were lucky to see also a rarer species. In a large mixed flock of geese we could observe 4 Red-brested Goose (Branta ruficollis). Yes!

At dusk the bank was full of people and first geese appeared above our heads.

In the end, there were several thousands of people at the lake. We were amazed by the diversity of them: from people in camouflage wear to girls at high heels in fake leopard fur coats. For us this event was an extremely positive experience, that birdwatching also in cold November can drag out so many people also in our region. The whole event was a very neat combination of birdwatching, various nature orientated activities and the presentation of home-made and local products. For Slovaks, the advantage is surely also the location of this place close to our borders. We can only recommend to visit the Wild Geese Festival in Tata.

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