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Czech Republic trip May 26th to June 7th (1 Viewer)

gus guthrie

gus guthrie
Trip report to Czech Republic

On Sunday, 26th May I flew from Edinburgh airport to Prague airport in the Czech Republic where I was met by my friends with whom I would be staying during my 12 day visit.
After picking up the hire car at the airport we set off on our long journey east to the city of Olomouc which is 300k away.
CZ is divided into two parts, Bohemia in the west and Moravia in the east which was my destination, the ancient city of Olomouc where my hosts lived was a hugely important city in ancient times as it sat on the Amber road, a major trading route between northern Europe and the Middle East.
Early next morning I drove my host to her work to collect some documents, as I sat in the car waiting a Black Redstart appeared next to me on the fence with a beakful of food. Over the next 20 minutes both parents continually carried food to a nest in building close to me, these beautiful birds were to be found everywhere I went in CZ as were the equally beautiful Common Redstarts.
My hosts had helped arrange meetings with several local birders and we met them to discuss which days would be suitable to everyone.
We then went for a short walk in a nearby park where I found a new bird for me, a Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker as well as Redstart, Green Woodpecker, Great-Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatches galore.
Later in the day we stopped off at the Fishponds at Tovacov which were on our way home, these are working ponds full of Carp, Roach etc and are a magnet for birdlife as they are often surrounded by willows, scrub and reed-beds.
Pochard, Mallard and Coots were plentiful, other birds seen there that afternoon were Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Jay, White Stork, Grey Heron and Long-tailed Tit.
On Tues 28th I drove down to Prerov and met up with several members of the Ringing Group , from here we drove south to Nove Mlyny fishponds where we spent the morning colour-ringing Yellow-legged Gulls as well as Black-headed gulls and Common Terns.
There were also Red-crested Pochard nesting here as well as several Beaver Lodges. After this we had lunch beside the lake where we found a singing 1st year Rosefinch, an unusual bird to find down there apparently.
Other birds we saw were Icterine Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat and Blackcap.
We drove next to a small village where White Storks were nesting on platforms provided for them, behind here was an area of Grapevines and a small disused quarry which held a Bee-eater colony, a bird which was new to me.
Another new bird sailed overhead, a Honey Buzzard, as well as both Black Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel.
A pair of Red-backed Shrike were showing well as was a barred Warbler….a great place !
Wed. 29th , I drove down to a small village south of Olomouc where I met with Karel who had agreed to take me out with him when he was doing his research and bird-surveying work.
Our first stop at one of the Tovachov ponds produced a Black Tern and then Golden Orioles…a great start.
We then drove further south to an area of Pine forests in a sandy area, here we monitored Hoopoe nests as well as Black Woodpecker nests, one of the main birds I’d come to see……fantastic views of them at the nest !
Here we also saw at least 8 Woodlark singing in a large clearing as well as Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Goshawk, Mistle Thrush and a Hawfinch.
Our next stop was at an area of arable land where Montagu’s Harrier had bred the previous year, no sign of them but did find displaying Hobby and more Marsh Harriers as well as Stock Dove, Skylark and Fallow Deer.
It was dark by the time we returned home and we put up a Long-eared Owl as we entered the village.
Thurs. 30th I spent the morning with Karel helping him do research into birdsongs in a forested area not too far from his village. Here we had Great Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker and also Lesser Spotted Woodpecker…all showing really well. Plenty Chaffinch, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Nuthatch around as well as Short-toed Treecreeper, Garden warbler, Wood Warbler and Nightingale. I did get glimpses of a Collared Flycatcher here but it was difficult to track up in the canopy. It was also great to see how plentiful Turtle doves were here, beautiful birds to see.
After lunch I took my hosts terrier for a walk in the beautiful park in the centre of Olomouc which encircles the old city walls, here were lots of Redstarts, Black Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Song Thrush, Serin, Blackcap, Tree Sparrow and several Syrian Woodpeckers..another new species.
Blackbirds and Nuthatches were the most common birds here I think.
Fri. 31st was a non-birding day . I was given a tour of the old city of Olomouc by a friend of my host who has written many books on the history of this ancient city.
It was a fascinating tour and I was lucky to see many beautiful buildings. I discovered that the reason Olomouc became so powerful was that it sat on the only crossing of the Morava river where the Amber trade route passed through.
As a result of this it became immensely rich, which shows in the buildings of the old city.
After a late lunch it was time to head north to visit my hosts parents near Sumperk, some 60 ks north of Olomouc.
This was a really beautiful area of rolling hills which were heavily forested with farmland in between. We had a really lovely supper of home-cooked food with beer and Stinky cheese after, this is a Moravian speciality and tastes great.
 

gus guthrie

gus guthrie
1st June, Sat.
I had a free day and drove back down to the fishponds at Tovacov to do a bit of birdwatching, however on my arrival I found a fishing competition taking place with at least 150 fishermen around the lakes….this changed my plans a bit. I drove south to some smaller ponds where I found a track through a woodland with some truly gigantic oak trees in it. Here I found a nest of Collared Flycatchers and sat watching these beautiful birds for over an hour before moving on.
Other birds which were here included; Nuthatch, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Turtle Dove, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Garden Warbler.
At the end of the track through the wood I came to a small river with a pond running along side it. There were lots of Willows here as well as reedbeds and scrub areas.
Marsh warblers were common here as were Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Great-crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen. Grey Heron and Collared Dove.
With a bit of patience I also had excellent views of River Warbler, Great Reed Warbler and at last a Penduline Tit, a bird I’d been really looking forward to seeing. While watching it I also saw a Marsh Tit….another new bird to me .
I soon found the Penduline Tits nest and what an amazing structure it is, wonderfully woven. I met a really nice couple here called Clive and Petra Everill, who’s names I recognised from the CZ Birds website..very similar to our own Birdtrack.
2nd June. Sun.
At 8am I went with the dog for a walk in Flora Park in the centre of Olomouc. This is a super place for birds, all mature trees with lots of shrubs too.
It was great to see birds like Redstart, Serin, Green Woodpecker and Blackcap all in the middle of a city. Other birds were Syrian Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Nuthatch and Song Thrush.
We went to visit Olomouc Zoo in the afternoon which is located in the foothills to the north of the city. This lovely Zoo is worl-famous for it’s breeding of rare species and is well worth a visit. Here in the Pine trees we found both Crested tits and Siskins.
3rd June, Mon.
The weather changed for the worst and we had a lot of heavy rain, we had escaped most of the bad weather that the west of the country had been receiving until now.
I decided to try some wooded hillsides not too far from where my host worked. The only birds I saw were Goldcrests and Blackbirds so headed back down to Tovacov ponds.
Here I had Cuckoo, Red-crested Pochard, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier and great views of a Penduline Tit, totally fearless.
Then home to dry off.
 

gus guthrie

gus guthrie
4th June. Tues.
Karel picked me up early in the morning and we headed off to do village bird surveys in the Jeseniky mountains, he had quadrands that needed to be finished for their upcoming Bird atlas.
On the way we stopped at an area where he checks Montagu Harriers breeding, here I was lucky enough to watch several birds hunting and showing very well, both males and females…..so elegant, beautiful to watch.
In the villages Redstarts, Tree Sparrow and Black Redstart were commonplace, other birds we saw were; Red-backed Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Icterine Warbler, Corn Bunting, Hobby and a flying Black Stork. A terrific day out.
5th June. Wed.
An early start today to collect my guide for the Hostyske Vrchy mountains. Which were mixed woodlands, very steep and also very wet due to the heavy rain we had been having.
I was shown White-backed Woodpecker nest-holes but sadly the young had left the nest as had a family of Three-toed Woodpeckers we tried for next.
We did find a family of Wild Boars which we stood and watched from around 100m away….then a bit higher up the mountain a big Boar went crashing past much closer !
Birds seen here included Wood Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Ring Ouzel, Firecrest, Fieldfare and a flying Nutcracker.
Highlight of the trip for my guide Martin was a very close view of a Golden Eagle, an extremely rare bird in CZ. He told me a pair had bred not too far away , the 1st time in over 100 years. This was only his second ever sighting of a golden eagle in his life.
The highlight for me was seeing a Fire Salamander on the way down the mountain, fantastic creature !
6th June Thurs.
My 50th birthday !
I spent the day with Karel ringing Black – Headed Gulls on an island in Choumotov Lake, just north of Olomouc.
Among 4000 pairs of Black-headed Gulls were 6 pairs of Mediterranean Gulls . The chicks of which were to be colour-ringed if they were big enough.
We ringed over 750 Black-headed chicks and 7 Mediterranean gulls , a great way to spend my birthday !
On our way back across the lake a male Little Bittern flew past us several times giving great views, and several Golden Oriole showed well among the Willows too.
7th June. Fri.
Last day, we drove north to drop off my host’s dog at her parent’s home near Sumperk. Then it was the long trip west to Prague Airport via the mountains to the north, avoiding the flooded areas further south. Last memorable bird of the trip was a black Woodpecker which flew across in front of us coming down through the wooded hillside.
Then it was time for farewells at the Airport and time to head home……. A memorable holiday with many thanks to the Czech people who made me feel so welcome in their country.
My final tally was 131 birds including 18 new species;
River Warbler Golden Oriole
Marsh Tit , Middle-spotted Woodpecker
Penduline Tit , Lesser-spotted Woodpecker
Black Stork , Black Woodpecker
Nutcracker , Syrian Woodpecker
Icterine Warbler , Collared Flycatcher
Montagu’s Harrier , Great Reed Warbler
Honey Buzzard , Bee-eater
Woodlark , Short-toed Treecreeper
 
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Ben Nevis

Registered User
Supporter
Scotland
Great report Gus,I can sense your enjoyment,just by reading It.You seen some fantastic birds and It would have been a "wee" bit different,than Kinnordy..! ;)

Welcome to the "50 Club" from me also and hope to meet up again soon. :t:
 

gus guthrie

gus guthrie
Great report, Gus-sounds a fantastic area to visit

The sheer number of birds that you see there is very noticable too...as well as the variety. I was also very lucky to have some really good birders to go out with.
Another thing I forgot to mention was that Marsh Harrier was the commonest bird of prey after Kestrel, saw far more of them than Buzzards.
Raptors were certainly plentiful, great to see so many species.
 

gus guthrie

gus guthrie
Excellent report and interesting to hear about the country beyond Prague.

The road system is excellent, car-hire was also very reasonable and with sat-nav included in the deal I never had any real issues.
Rural roads tend to be a bit like ours here in scotland, pot-holed, but overall not too bad.
Like a lot of other countries you have to be prepared for drivers overtaking when they really shouldn;t...patience isn't a virtue with czech drivers !
 

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