Szeged is a decent sized and pretty town in the far south on the river Tisza. Being in a major river plain it is surrounded by lakes and ponds and sandy soil. My in-laws own a little summer-house and garden just outside the city, which has lots on offer. Many insects are attracted to the Buddleia bushes: this is silver-washed fritillary. Its caterpillars feed on violets, which were everywhere in the shady lawn.

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This is a huge Xylocopa bee: very impressive black wings make you instinctively duck as it flies around.

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A hummingbird hawk moth: only visited us one or twice and I was lucky to snap it. It’s host plants are bedstraws.

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And a common swallowtail butterfly. It never held it’s wings still and I have caught it here in mid-flap. In the UK our subspecies is very specialized to its host plant (bog-fennel) and fenland-habitat, but the continental ones are more polyphagous, and hence commoner.

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There was also a superstar: Queen of Spain Fritillary. It’s host plant is field pansy which is common in lawns in Hungary. It’s a scarce migrant to the UK.

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There is a large pond in the garden which had the huge tadpoles of spadefoot toads (10cm long, can you believe?), and this newly emerged european tree frog:

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Ther was also a ruddy darter dragonfly:

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Some really great birds flew overhead: at one point there were 12 white storks as well as some gliders from the local airfield exploiting the thermals, and a montague harrier was quartering the nearby grassland. I snapped this bee-eater flying over.

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In the university botanic garden we saw quite a lot too.  A rose chafer:

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This longhorn beetle was the largest beetle I have ever seen in the wild: a good 6cm long. I fancy it has lost the tips of both antennae.

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Finally, another British rarity that is dirt-common in Hungary: a lovely male sand lizard.

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So there is lots to see to excite a wild-life-loving Brit. Next stop Balatonkenese.

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