Three-toed woodpecker-Photographed in southern Bohemia. Are you a birder with a passion for getting up close to rare and endangered raptors, for example Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Ural Owl, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard and Montagu’s Harrier? If you are that person this exclusive 7 day visit in May 2016 to southern Bohemia and Moravia in the Czech Republic led by Terry Pickford (49 years raptor expertise) may just be the kind of trip you have been looking for. Take a look at the full list of bird species on offer, with 405 recorded in the Republic, and over 200 species already seen by Terry’s previous birding groups; 16 bird of prey and 5 owl species.
PDf Czech Bird List. The list also includes mammals and butterflies.
The dates for 2016 are as follows, departing Manchester 25th May, returning 1st June. Four days are spent in southern Bohemia, the last 3 days in southern Moravia.
Preferred departure is Manchester Airport, but Gatwick can be arranged (depending upon flight availability), departing one day earlier 24th May staying in Prague for the first evening to coincide with flight schedules from Manchester the following day. Flights from both Manchester and Gatwick for May 2016 are already filling up, so if you are interested in joining Terry please get in touch as soon as possible.
Booking details, costings and contact details for next year’s group (7 persons) can be located further down the pages.
Imperial Eagle-Nesting in southern Moravia. The Czech Republic is one of the best-kept secrets in the birding world. Few British birdwatchers venture to this fascinating and friendly country to explore the mountains, extensive reed beds and thousands of fish ponds surrounded by extensive mature forests which are the habitat for many of Europe’s rarest breeding birds and animals. With over 200 breeding species of birds, and an unbelievable 405 recorded species to wet the appetite, the Czech Republic is without any doubt a birding paradise.
Ural Owl-Nesting in southern Bohemia. The Czech Republic is less than two hours’ flight from either Manchester or Gatwick. Accommodation throughout the holiday is first class and the standard of cuisine in the Republic is very high, with the cost of wine and beer half what you expect to pay here in the UK. The trip is based upon B/B en-suit accommodation, minibus transfers inside the Czech Republic and qualified guides. If you are unable to fly with Terry direct from Manchester to Prague you can depart from another UK airport to Prague where Terry will arrange to meet up with you before driving his group by minibus to our first Pension accommodation in Trebon, south Bohemia.
Saker Falcon, a raptor now making a come back in the Czech Republic. image Dusan Boucny
Terry Pickford, one of England’s foremost raptor experts with 49 years experience is joined by Jaroslav Simek a member of the Czech Rare Breeding Bird Committee, together they will be leading this small birding group to Southern Bohemia and Moravia in May 2016. Groups consisting of seven people can expect to tick off an average of between 150 – 160 species during this 7 days visit. Raptors are very much on the menu; species include Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Red and Black Kite, Hobby, Montagu’s Harrier, Marsh Harrier and Ural Owl; possibly Eagle Owl if not already fledged. Red-footed Falcon, Pallid Harrier, Lesser-spotted Eagle, northern Merlin and Saker falcon are all species seen by previous groups. All daily trips are undertaken at a leisurely and unhurried pace with a stop each day for a light lunch. Each evening dinner is taken at a selection of quality restaurants which have used on previous trips.
Holiday May 2016
Departing from Manchester 25th May returning from Prague 1st June
Terry will lead his next Czech birding trip ( 7 persons) consisting of 4 days exploring various habitats in southern Bohemia, with the final 3 days spent birding in southern Moravia the wine capital of the Republic close to the border with Austria and Slovakia.
The first 4 days begin from the atmospheric old walled town of Trebon, a distance of approximately 160 Km south from Prague. We will spend 4 nights at the comfortable Pension Siesta. The Pension is located in a splendid position and only a minute or two from the centre of Trebon’s old square. Dinner will be taken in nearby restaurants. From Trebon we will explore the internationally famous Trebonsko Biosphere Reserve; it is not uncommon to observe up to several different raptor species soaring above overhead in the sky together. You will spend one day in the Sumava National Park where two key species are the Ural Owl and Three-toed Woodpecker. You will be guided through a range of forest and fish pond habitats,visiting one of only two colonies of Spoonbills in the Czech Republic.
The final 3 days will be spent in southern Moravia visiting a number of fish ponds close to our hotel near Lednice and surrounding regions where you will visit a colony of European Bee-eaters. Waterfowl feature prominently with a number of seasonal surprises. Finally the jewel in the crown, a one day visit into the ‘Obora’ nature reserve. This is the last true floodplain remaining in the Czech Republic and is situated between the borders of Slovakia and Austria. ‘Obora’ is know to hold the only 2 breeding pairs of Imperial Eagles a third key species within the Czech Republic.
Our first Accommodation, Pension Siesta, Trebon, southern Bohemia.
Southern Bohemia: Trebon, General Information and the first four days.
The fabulous Trebonsko Biosphere Reserve, southern Bohemia
Trebon is located on the bank of Lake Svet (World Pond) in the heart of the Trebonsko Protected Landscape Area,which has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The town square is dominated by the old Town Hall, with its 31-meter tall observation tower. This square is encircled by burghers’ houses, featuring Renaissance and Baroque gables and a vaulted arcade. Trebon’s other historical monuments include a chateau with a park, an Augustinian monastery with St Giles’ Church, and the Schwarzenberg Vault, with a chapel where chamber music performances are held in the summer.
Trebon’s main square, southern Bohemia
Svet Pond is a man made lake, used for fish farming and water recreation, constructed by the Rozmberk family’s regent in 1571. Rozmberk Instructional Trail, a 22 km marked interpretive cycling trail, begins at the dam on Svet Pond, just south of the old city center. Cesta Kolen Sveta, a 12 km hiking and cycling trail circles the pond itself. The Schwarzenberg Vault is a 19th century Neo-Gothic structure, built as a mausoleum for the Scwarzenberg family, located in its own park south of Svet Pond. In the spring when fishermen are harvesting the fish by net, as many as seventeen White-tailed eagles have been recorded above one pond waiting to predate any dead or discarded fish.
Cervené Blato (Red Marshland) Nature Reserve is located in the south-western part of the Trebonsko Protected Landscape Area. It was established in 1953 to protect the peat-bog, an Ice Age relict that preserves an unusual plant and insect community as well as many pairs of breeding Nightjar.
Cervene Blato – Breeding haunt of Green Sandpiper
With more than 500 fish ponds each constructed by hand in the Middle Ages, these extensive lakes ecosystems are encircled by vast mature forests supporting the largest population of White-tailed eagles in the republic, estimated to number at least thirty breeding pairs. Here you will have opportunities to see Collared Flycatcher, Corncrake, Black and White Stork, Golden Oriole a wide variety of woodpeckers including Black,Middle-Spotted, Greater-Spotted, Lesser-Spotted (rare breeder but has been seen), Grey-Headed, Syrian and Wryneck. Little Bittern, Black-necked Grebe and Night Heron are all fairly common. Penduline Tit, Bearded Tit, Icterine Warbler, Marsh Warbler, River Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Barred Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Woodlark, Crested Lark, Firecrest and Bluethroat are all fairly common species. Both treecreepers can be found in most forests in southern Bohemia with Short-toed particularly common.
European Lynx with small Kitten, image courtesy of Petr Saj, Czech Republic
The forests in the Trebon region contain good numbers of Wild Boar together with an increasing population of European Lynx. The Lynx is a very shy and elusive animal rarely encountered or seen in its natural habitat. In June 2015 as the group were walking along a forest track just 6 km from Trebon, Terry discovered a fresh Lynx paw print possibly made by a Lynx kitten which may have passed by only minutes before the group’s arrival. This is only the second occasion a Lynx paw print was found by Terry since he began visiting the Czech Republic in 1967.
The fresh Lynx kitten paw print found by Terry near Trebon in June 2015. The print measured 45mm wide & 55mm long.
One Day’s visit to the Sumava National Park
Sumava National Park, southern Bohemia 2015. Looking down from the mountain track leading to top of this restricted military area up to an altitude of 1400 metres
Here our group will be joined by an additional experienced guide who has kindly organised a special permit allowing our small party to enter a restricted military zone in the mountains with our vehicle. The area is known locally for a number of rare alpine birds including the Three-toed Woodpecker, White-backed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Black Stork, Ural Owl, Honey Buzzard, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Hazel Hen, Crossbill, Ring Ouzel, Crested-Tit and Firecrest. Travelling along forest tracks we are driven to an altitude of 1400 metres. During the last twenty years this largely coniferous forest with high alpine meadows has been one of only three regions where the Ural Owl has been successfully reintroduced into the Czech Republic. There are now estimated to be at least forty pairs of this very rare and endangered owl breeding successfully throughout both Bohemia and Moravia.
Ural Owl: Sumava National Park, southern Bohemia 2015
Three-toed Woodpecker: Sumava National Park, southern Bohemia 2015
In the afternoon we return to a lower altitude walking through flower meadows along the river Vltava lined with willow bushes where you can expect to see Scarlet Rosefinch, Redpoll, Red-backed Shrike, occasionally Great-grey Shrike, Stonechat, Whinchat, Corncrake, and heard but rarely seen Quail calling from the grassy meadows. If we are lucky so late in the season, we may catch a sighting of Black Grouse flying across the open meadow back from their leck into the nearby forest.
Sumava Mountains, southern Bohemia: Alpine Meadows the home of the Corncrake 2015
Sumava Mountains, southern Bohemia: Birding Group 2010
Sumava Mountains, southern Moravia: Scarlet Rosefinch Habitat
Sumava Mountains, southern Bohemia: Scarlet Rosefinch
Southern Moravia: Hotel-Hranicni-Zamek, The last three days.
Our second Hotel-Hranicni-Zamek, South Moravia
On the 5th morning after breakfast, we depart from Trebon driving along the Austrian border, bird watching as we travel, arriving at our second accommodation the prestigious Hotel Hranicni Zamek, locally known as the Little Border Chateau , close to the Moravian town of Lednice. On our way we will stop to observe Montague’s Harrier breeding close to the road surrounded by huge agricultural fields where seed rape is grown. We will visit an elevated heathland nature reserve at Podyji on the eastern side of Znojmo just 3 miles from the Austrian border crossing. The area was one of the last refuges for Great Bustard in the Republic and may still exist in small number along with the Stone Curlew. We shall see Barred Warblers, Black Redstart, Serin, Shrikes, Crested Lark, Wood Lark, Hoopoes along with Quail both species often heard but not seen. Turtle Dove are still common, and a variety of woodpeckers including Wryneck also still common at this location.
Montagu’s Harrier, southern Moravia. image by Dusan Boucny
Dinner will be taken in the hotel dining room (bring your binoculars), with panoramic views over-looking one of the largest fish ponds in the region providing an unrivalled vista from your dining room table across the lake. Look out for nesting Marsh Harrier, Hobby including many species of waterfowl, Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Gadwall, Garganey and Night Heron plus a range of both rare and uncommon waders rarely seen in the UK. You are also likely to see the Roe deer, Eastern Hedgehog, Hare, White Stork and Pine Marten as they take an evening stroll across the lawn in front of the restaurant most evenings.
Our second hotel. Restaurant over-looking the lake. southern Moravia.
Little Border Chateau Dining Room View over lake. southern Moravia.
Lednice is situated on a flat bank of the River Thaya, which creates numerous picturesque views over both canals and ponds. It is an important border town close to the Slovak and Austrian borders. Lednice is one of the most attractive and most visited places in the Czech Republic. Since the year 1996, this “Garden of Europe” has been a part of the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Not too far from Lednica we plan to visit several fish pond locations, where we hope to find at least one, possibly two pairs of nesting Black-winged Stilt. Penduline Tits, Little Bittern, Icterine Warbler, Marsh Warbler, River Warbler, Great White and Little Egret and Marsh Harrier are all present.
Lednica Chateau and extensive reinstated park, the former home of the Lichtenstein family
The most attractive monument of the Lednice-Valtice historical complex is Lednice Chateau. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the romantic historical architecture. In the year 1632 the Lichtenstein family built the chateau as their summer family residence. They also owned a nearby castle Valtice which was their main residence. Lednice chateau was built in Italian style of villas and it became a Moravian pearl of a baroque architecture.
Between these two castles Lednice and Valtice a beautiful park full of valuable historical objects has been created. It was developed over three centuries. Walking through the park, you will see a romantic ruin of John’s Castle, a Hunting lodge built in classicism style and many other classical architectural features of this historic period. Here, you can also see Night Herons, White Stork, Great Reed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher and up to five species of Woodpecker. All of which are resident in this beautiful park. A good variety of raptors are also here including Red and Black Kite, Hobby, and Imperial Eagle. You may also be lucky enough to spot a European Beaver.
One Day’s visit to ‘Obora’ the last true floodplain in the Czech Republic
On the final day we will visit ‘Obora’, regarded as one of the most important riverine forest habitats inside the republic. One of the Republic’s rarest breeding raptor the Imperial Eagle (two pairs) are located here. Other species include White-tailed Eagle (one pair), Honey Buzzard, Hobby, Saker Falcon (occasional breeder), both Red and Black Kites are common, White and Black Stork and Golden Oriole. There is also a good selection of woodpeckers throughout Obora including the Wryneck, Black, Grey Headed, Middle Spotted and Syrian. Red Backed Shrike are seen everywhere, perhaps one of the most regularly seen species inside Obora. We will look out for both the Purple and Squacco Heron along the river and pond edges and also listen for the call of the Corncrake.
Imperial Eagle, Obora, southern Moravia. by Dusan Boucny
Tucked away in the obscure southern corner of Southern Moravia, just 30 minutes from our hotel, ‘Obora’ is located between the borders of Austria and Slovakia just below the border town of Breclav. ‘Obora’ is one of the Republic’s last riverine forest regarded as an absolute gem by Gerard Gorman. On the right hand side of Obora the Morava river forms the border between the Czech Republic and Austria and on the left side the Dyje river is the border with Slovakia. The whole floodplain between the two rivers encompasses a complexity of riverine forests with old gnarled oaks where a colony of White Storks have built their nests for hundreds of years. Two years ago a pair of nesting Saker falcons tenanted an abandoned Stork nest 200 m from the road where they successfully raised a family of three chicks. Raptors of many species breed without any form of persecution or human intervention throughout this vast forested reserve. The forestry authority who maintain and manage Obora enforce a strict policy of no public vehicle access. Because the region has been virtually untouched remaining in pristine condition restricted vehicle access has been maintained since the end of the Russian occupation in 1990.
One of several nesting pairs of White Storks throughout Obora, southern Moravia.
Our group will visit this truly special reserve by bicycle bringing along a packed lunch. The road through Obora is completely flat and is therefore an easy and pleasurable experience. Today public access into Obora is permitted for those who chose to walk and cyclists.
White-tailed Eagle Trebonsko Biosphere Reserve, Trebon. southern Moravia.
image by Dusan Boucny
If you would like to join Terry and Jaroslav in May 2016, or require addition information relating to next year’s trip, please contact Terry Pickford by using the following e-mail: Bowland-HenHarrier-Demo@sky.com as soon as possible to book any of the remaining places. The group of 7 people departs from Manchester (Wednesday) 25 th May, returning from Prague to Manchester (Wednesday) on 1st June 2016. Departs from Gatwick (Tuesday) 24 th May returning from Prague to Gatwick (Wednesday) 1st June 2016.
To secure a place a £160 deposit is payable per person to confirm any bookings. A balance of £820 for a single, £1440 for a double or twin is payable six weeks prior to departure.
Throughout the trip you will be staying in first class pension and hotel accommodation complete with en-suite facilities based upon a B/B arrangement. Travel will be by minibus and throughout your visit Terry will be assisted by Jaroslav Simek one of the republic’s most experienced and talented bird watchers. The group will also be joined by one additional guide when visiting the Sumava National Park where we will be looking for two key species, the Three-toed woodpecker and the rare Ural Owl.
Czech Birdwatching-Image Gallery by Terry Pickford
Hotel Reception second hotel: Little Border Chateau-Moravia
The old town of Cesky Krumlov with castle, constructed in the 15th century, southern Bohemia
Dining out: Cesky Krumlov, southern Bohemia
Dining in the old Castle Dungeon: Cesky Krumlov. southern Bohemia
Long-eared owl: Photographed in Chateau Grounds
Short-eared Owl: Photographed in Local Graveyard
Sumava Mountains: Crested-tit
Sumava Mountains: Firecrest
Obora Flood Plain Moravia: Corncrake
White-tailed Eagle: Trebonsko: Southern Moravia
Trebonsko: Carp Production on a huge scale result, 20 breeding pairs White-tailed Eagles
Trebonsko: Eyries containing White-tailed Eagle triplets common
Moravia: Male Montagu’s Harrier image taken from Mini Bus
Moravia: Female Montagu’s Harrier captured from Mini Bus bringing nesting material
Moravia: Penduline Tit nest
Moravia: Penduline Tit
Southern Bohemia: Northern Merlin rare summer migrant from Russia, captured near Trebon
Trebonsko Reserve, Southern Bohemia: Jaroslav Simek ringing Bluethroat
Middle-spotted woodpecker, photographed in hotel grounds
Hawfinch photographed in hotel grounds
European Bee-eater photographed in breeding colony just 20 Km from hotel