Prague, Czech Republic, 7th - 11th November 2002

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


John Hague

Prague has now become one of the top tourist destinations in Europe due to its wonderful architecture, history and not forgetting excellent and cheap beer! Prague is also easily accessible from the UK by air and has plentiful accommodation to suit most budgets.

My wife and I visited the city this year for a long weekend staying in the Vysehrad area which proved very productive for birding and I took the opportunity to do a bit of birding both alone and with the help of Prague resident Jiri Horacek, a member of the Czech rarities committee. Whilst the floods this summer have caused major problems the city authorities are working very hard to restore both the buildings and transport links. Transport should present no problems, as there is a series of tram routes to replace the damaged Metro. Warning should be given here though that gangs of pickpockets operate on the trams (especially tram route 22) and visitors should take precautions to protect their belongings.

There are some excellent birding locations within the Greater Prague area all easily accessible by public transport. One major boon for tourists is that on most forms of public transport the station, bus or tram stop is announced, this coupled with a free transport map given out when you buy a three-day (Kc200, about £5) or longer travel pass will guide you easily to any location given.

As can be seen from the checklist of birds I saw that follows any area of the city can provide good birds and given more time a visit to the following should prove productive. I did not visit all the areas mentioned but Jiri supplied the speciality bird information.

The Sarka Gorge in the Prague 6 area holds Black Woodpecker amongst other species and can be accessed by bus service 116, which connects with tram routes 2, 5, 25 & 26. It will also connect with the A Metro line at Dejvicka when this service is restored.

Obora Hvezda (Hvezda Park) also in Prague 6 has Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers and is accessed best from the terminus of tram routes 1, 2 & 18.

In the southeast of the city Grey-headed Woodpeckers are found in the Michelsky les (les forest), this is easily accessed from Roztyly station on the C Metro line. Slightly further out Black Woodpeckers are present in the Modranska rokle, access to this site is by bus service 113 to Sidliste Pisnice, this service connects with Metro line C at Kacerov.

I will be arranging a spring trip to Prague for my wife and I to allow me to more fully explore the city and should anyone require further information on birding in Prague please do not hesitate to contact me at

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
1 on the 9th in Modranska rokle.

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
10 on the River Vltava on the 8th.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Common on the River Vltava

Pochard Aythya farina
6 all male by the King Charles Bridge on the 8th.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
On the 10th one flew over the Old Town Square and another was seen at dusk hunting around Vysehrad on the 11th.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
One seen landing in trees close to the airport on the 7th and another on the 9th in Modranska rokle was being mobbed by a Kestrel.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
A female on the 7th as we left the airport. A male was seen in Modranska rokle on the 9th. Another was seen at dusk in Vysehrad on the 11th.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
One woke us at 07.30 calling from our hotel window ledge it was flushed as I opened the curtains making off with one of Prague's Feral Pigeon population!

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Large numbers around King Charles Bridge, seen even at night feeding in the floodlight areas!

Feral Pigeon Columbia livia
Very common, see Peregrine entry.

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
2 in the Jewish Quarter on Parizska.

Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
A male showed well by the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vysehrad on the 11th.

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
One heard calling in Modranska rokle on the 9th and a female seen in Vysehrad on the 11th.

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus maritus
One seen three times in flight in Modranska rokle on the 9th proved frustratingly elusive for Jiri and myself.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Common including one in the Old Jewish Cemetery in the city centre.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius
A female in the park at Vysehrad on the 11th.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Seen from the plane at Prague airport by the runways on the 7th as we landed!

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
A female by the stream in Modranska rokle on the 9th was the only one.

White Wagtail Motacilla alba
One flew over the National Museum calling on the 10th.

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Surprisingly shy and scarce only seen in Modranska rokle on the 9th and Vysehrad on the 11th.

Blackbird Turdus merula
Very common seen every day, large numbers in any park visited.

Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
One was in Vysehrad on the 11th.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Reasonably common in Modranska rokle on the 9th.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
A very late bird was with a tit flock around the edge of Modranska rokle on the 9th.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
A small flock of birds of the race europaeus were seen in Modranska rokle on the 9th.

Marsh Tit Parus palustris
Common in the Modranska rokle on the 9th.

Crested Tit Parus cristatus
One seen and heard calling on the 9th in Modranska rokle was of the nominate race cristatus, appears slightly darker than the race scotia found in Scotland.

Coal Tit Parus ater
Common in Modranska rokle on the 9th.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Common, including a bird calling in Wenceslas Square on the 7th.

Great Tit Parus major

Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Seen in Vysehrad on the 7th, with 4+ there on the 11th. Another in Modranska rokle on the 9th.

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
One was seen on the 9th in Modranska rokle. Treecreeper also occurs here so care must be taken with identification.

Jay Garrulus glandarius
Very common, all birds being of the paler headed nominate race.

Magpie Pica pica
Very common seen on all days.

Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Seen around the Jewish Quarter on the 11th with 3-4 birds on Parizska

Rook Corvus frugilegus
Common seen most days even close to the city centre.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Seen around the houses in Vysehrad on most days

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Seen in the park area of Vysehrad on the 11th.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Common around the city parks.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Seen in Vysehrad on the 11th, with up to 20 in an evening roost in the National Cemetery there.

Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Seen only on the 9th in Modranska rokle.

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
A very tame individual was seen feeding in parkland in Vysehrad, a further 10 were seen to roost in the National Cemetery there on the 11th. The sight of one so close to the city centre was something of a surprise as was the tameness of the bird in comparison to the Robins, which were uncharacteristically elusive!