Middle-spotted Woodpecker was very much a hoped for species during my extended weekend visit to Prague with Mrs T. However, my best sighting was of a completely unexpected species, despite it not being a ‘lifer’. Whilst waiting expectantly for the Middle-spotted Woodpecker photographed in the previous Blog entry to return to its nest hole I spotted five passerines fly into the tree canopy above. When I raised my binoculars I was extremely pleased to identify them as Hawfinches. However, an hour later on the lower slopes of Petrin Hill I was treated to my best ever sighting of the species when two individuals literally flew into the bush I was stood next to. That was five minutes after we had followed a Firecrest along the footpath we were strolling along. Fantastic.
Nuthatch (Eurasian), Great Tit and Blackbird were regular throughout the city but I was surprised by the complete absence of House Sparrow, Starling and Dunnock. Although the flight from London Heathrow was only two hours in duration it had resulted in me being 1000 miles further east. Consequently, I studied my battered softcopy of the Collins Bird Guide and learnt that Common Starling was only a summer visitor to the city. The same also probably applied to Dunnock with the region being on the edge of the distribution map shown for the species. However, House Sparrow was apparently resident but it never made it onto my Prague List despite the miles Mrs T and I accumulated wandering around the city on foot. My perusal through the worn pages of my reference book also highlighted the fact that my presumed immature Herring Gulls were in fact more likely to be Caspian/Yellow-legged Gulls according to the distribution maps. Unfortunately, I only encountered flyover birds on my final day so I was unable to confirm visually.
Red Squirrel was another unexpected species and they were to be found in all the large parks. Once again I found myself wondering why the UK has allowed the ‘Grey’ to wipeout populations of the far more attractive native ‘Red’.
Species seen away from the Vltava River were Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Kestrel (male), Common Buzzard, Blackbird, Song Thrush (1), Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Jay, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Pheasant (male), Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Hawfinch (max 5), Goldfinch, Magpie, Rook, Jackdaw, Wren, Robin and Firecrest (1).
All in all Mrs T thoroughly enjoyed our ‘extenders’ in Prague. It certainly beat the subsequent decorating.
Tony T BSc (Hons) GeoSci (Open)