The second day would take us to various salt ponds and reed-beds in the Nuesiedler See Nationalpark, which surrounded Illmitz, Austria, the town in which we were staying. In the morning we boarded our White-Whale of a motor coach and went to visit two places with interesting names: Oberstinkersee, or the "big stinky lake", and nearby Hölle, or "hell". The first was a rather large pond with lots of waterfowl present. We would see Common and Red-Crested Pochards, Mallards, Great Egrets, Mute Swans, Northern Shovelers, Garganey and Little Egrets. But a bird that caused lots of excitement for our local guide, Leander Kihl, was a Fieldfare. This Fieldfare was seen taking food towards a nest, and made this only the second record of nesting in the region.
|Fieldfare - Oberstinkersee, Austria|
|Eurasian Kestrel Chick and Sparrows - Oberstinkersee, Austria|
One of the lifer ticks for me on the second day would become a common bird seen throughout the week, Red-Backed Shrikes. We would see them singularly or in pairs pretty much everywhere else that we visited for the remainder of the week.
|Red-Backed Shrike - Oberstinkersee, Austria|
|Nuesiedler See - Illmitz, Austria|
At the end of the road was a house and an observation tower known as Sandeck. There were some other photographers already there and it seemed to be a popular spot. One of the reasons is that this area is the home of a rare breed of white donkeys, some of the last ones in Austria.
|Austrian White-Donkeys - Illmitz, Austria|
|Scene from Sanddeck - Nuesiedler See, Austria|
|Long-Eared Owl - Nuesiedler See, Austria|
|Hoopoe chick - Nuesiedler See, Austria|
|Hoopoe Chicks - Nuesiedler See, Austria|
The end of the second day saw me get a quite a few lifer ticks, 17 in all and nearly half of the ones that I would see during the week. But I would get better looks at most of those later in the week, and better photos too. Day three would be taking us East towards Hungary looking for Great Bustards and Bee-Eaters.