THE CZECH REPUBLIC
"We thank you for a lovely holiday in the Czech Republic. We went to some wonderful places, saw some wonderful birds and your choice of hotel locations was superb."...... Mr and Mrs A, West Yorkshire, May 2008
"We just want to say a big thank you for another excellent holiday. We enjoyed all aspects of it and thought the three places we stayed at were all very good in their different ways."...... Mr and Mrs L, May 2010
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Few visitors to the Czech Republic venture outside the beautiful city of Prague. Our visit to the south of the country will reveal a land of rolling hills, forests and lakes that has changed little in hundreds of years. Birds that have become extinct or very scarce in the UK such as Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike, Corncrake, Whinchat, Cuckoo and Turtle Dove are all quite common here.
Prague is a two hour flight from the UK and there is a one hour time difference, but you may feel you have stepped back several centuries. The accommodation is of a high standard and there is birding on our doorstep in very attractive scenery at all three locations.
By visiting at this time nearly all the summer migrants will be in and many of the owls and woodpeckers will still be breeding. There is a good range of birds on this itinerary, including Black-necked Grebe, Garganey, Red-crested Pochard, White-tailed Eagle, Black Grouse, Black Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Bluethroat, Savi’s Warbler, River Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Crested Tit and Hawfinch. Our final list is sure to include some of the more difficult species too, such as Black Stork, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Tengmalm’s Owl, Pygmy Owl, White-backed Woodpecker, Barred Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher among others. The rich variety of possible birds adds a frisson to every walk.
The Czech Republic boasts a good range of mammals too. Commonly encountered species include Red and Roe Deer, Hare, Red Fox, Red Squirrel and Muskrat. Wild Boar, Otter, European Beaver and Elk are sometimes seen and the European Lynx has one of its strongholds in the Sumava Mountains. It is also excellent for flowers, butterflies and dragonflies. If this is not enough to tempt you; the beer is considered by many to be the finest in Europe and the local vineyards produce some superb wines which we will, of course, sample! Also we can easily make arrangements for anybody wishing to stay on for a few extra nights in Prague.
A two hour drive from the airport will take us into South Bohemia and the Sumava Mountains, a national park which straddles the border with Bavaria. We will spend our first two nights here. The area was depopulated during the cold war and is now used largely for forestry and low intensity farming. Though the mountains are not high, the area has a distinctly Alpine look. It is an area rich in flower meadows, forests, rivers and medieval buildings. Our hotel backs on to the woodlands of Mount Boubin. Here both Three-toed and White-backed Woodpeckers can be found along with several species of owl including Tengmalm’s, Pygmy, Eagle, Long-eared and Ural. Around the hotel there are Black Redstarts, Common Redpolls and Crossbills. There will be an optional pre-breakfast visit to an area for lekking Black Grouse and an evening stroll in the woods looking for owls, Woodcock and mammals. Ring Ouzels here are of the lovely alpestris race. Raptors include Honey Buzzard, Hobby and Goshawk. After two nights we will move the short distance to Trebon, stopping en route at the World Heritage Site of Cesky Krumlov, reputed to be one of the world’s best preserved medieval towns. The castle gardens here are full of impressive trees that are home to several species of woodpecker, including Grey-headed and Middle Spotted, along with Hawfinch and Golden Oriole. We will also visit a lake to the north of Ceske Budejovice where Spoonbills and Black-necked Grebes regularly breed.
Trebon town, also in Bohemia, is our base for the next two nights. It is surrounded by some five hundred fish ponds. They vary in size from little more than duck ponds to vast lakes, but all have a very natural feel, many having been established for several hundred years. The embankments that surround them were planted up with native trees that attract much wildlife.
Trebon is a beautiful town and our hotel is near the centre. Within easy walking distance of the hotel is one of the larger lakes and the adjoining park has Goldeneye nesting in boxes put up by local people. The park also has Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted and Collared Flycatchers, Garden Warbler and Redstart. During the day we will take a walk along the embankments of some of the ponds looking for Bluethroat, and River and Marsh Warblers. The ponds themselves may have Red-crested Pochard, Great White Egret, Spoonbill, White-tailed Eagle, Marsh Harrier and Penduline Tit. Otters are quite often seen during the day.
The third area we will visit is South Moravia. We will spend our final three nights at the fantastic Border Chateau near the village of Hlohovec. Much of the land in the area was owned by the Liechtenstein family who built tremendous palaces, castles, hunting lodges and follies which remain in near perfect condition. The grounds of these buildings make superb wildlife havens with their old woodlands, lakes and gardens. The restaurant of our hotel was a former hunting lodge and the dining room looks out over a lake where we are likely to see several wetland birds including Garganey and Marsh Harrier, plus Savi’s, Great Reed and European Reed Warblers. Other birds breeding around the hotel are Long-eared and Tawny Owls, Red-backed Shrike, Icterine and Marsh Warblers, Black Woodpecker, Nightingale and Golden Oriole. Scrubland in the surrounding area is home to species such as Bee-eater and Hoopoe. Red-backed Shrikes abound and we may find one of our prize birds here, the Barred Warbler.
From here we will visit a restricted access area in the extreme south of the country where many raptors breed including Black Kite, Red Kite, Hobby, Saker Falcon, White-tailed Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle.
We will also visit a local wine cellar one evening for a meal and wine tasting.
If flight times allow we will visit the beautiful Pruhonice Park near Prague on the last day. If you would like to add on a city break in Prague at the end or beginning of the trip please let us know on the booking form so that we can book appropriate flights. We are happy to arrange anything you need; hotels, transport or guiding. Please feel free to ring us to discuss your plans.
Breakfast will be taken at about 7.30am most mornings, perhaps later to fit in with pre-breakfast walks. Basic fitness is all that is required. Full days will be spent in the field and reasonable length walks will be undertaken regularly. There will be some uphill walking on the first few days, but at a sensible pace.
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
Full board accommodation is provided, with two nights at the Hotel Arnika, in the Sumava Mountains, two nights in Trebon at the Golden Star Hotel and three nights at the Border Chateau near Lednice, in Moravia. All accommodations are of a very good standard and the food and drink is excellent. All rooms have en suite facilities.
PRICE INCLUDES …..
All birdwatching excursions with expert leader (plus local guides on three days), full-board accommodation (starting with dinner on 10th, ending with lunch on 17th), soft drinks at meal times, reserve entrance fees, local transport by minibus, international flights and airport taxes.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED
Travel insurance. Personal items, alcoholic drinks, laundry.
Return flights from Leeds/Bradford to Prague using the scheduled services of Jet2. The outbound flight leaves early afternoon, with the return touching down early evening. If you wish to fly direct from a different airport we may be able to accommodate you if we can get suitable flights. Please call for details.
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