Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Dates of the trip: from 25 July to 11 August 1994.

If you want to go directly to the list of species I saw, please click here.

25 July 1994. We left early in the morning and arrived in Bavaria in the afternoon. We were unable to find a Bed and Breakfast so we opted for a beautiful Bavarian style chalet. We visited the Palace of Neuschwanstein, where Louis II of Bavaria let his sick imagination roam loose. There were Mute Swans everywhere and we had to stand in long queues. After that, because there were so many people waiting, we were hurried through the Palace of Hohenschwangau. The scenery was beautiful and I noted some Eurasian Crag Martins.

26 July 1994. We left Germany and drove on to the small village of Boden, in the Austrian province of Tyrol. No sooner had we arrived than we climbed to the "Hanauerhütte" culminating at a height of 1920 m. During the walk, we saw many  Lesser Redpolls, Water Pipits, Yellow-billed Choughs and a Chamois. As a thunderstorm was threatening, we had to go down.

27 July 1994. We left Boden heading for Imst and we had a quick look at Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) where the house-walls are covered with religious paintings. We visited the Palace of Linderhof, which I found very rococo in style. There was nothing worthwhile concerning birds, except a Common Raven. We returned to Boden in the evening.

Garmisch (Germany)

Linderhof (Germany)

28 July 1994. We rambled up to the "Anhalter Hütte" were we saw some Chamois and Common Crossbills. As usual, we had a thunderstorm in the evening.

29 July 1994. We left Boden for good and went to the village of Gerlos after a very quick visit of Innsbrück. While driving, we saw a Spotted Nutcracker. We opted for a Bed and Breakfast in Rauris, a very pleasant little village near the Park of "Hohe Tauern".

Edelweiss

30 July 1994. The temperature reached a high of 35°C in the Vienna region and it was just a little cooler where we were. We decided to take a walk at "Kolm Saigurn" where they re-introduced Griffon Vultures and Lammergeiers. We took a toll-road and had to walk on to reach a glacier. We saw Alpine Accentors and Northern Wheatears among other birds.

31 July 1994. From Rauris we went to the mountain refuge of "Niedersachsenhausen". I was fortunate enough to view 2 Griffon Vultures, Marmots and several Chamois. There were also quite a lot of Spotted Nutcrackers.

1 August 1994. We left Rauris and went to Salzburg where we were accommodated in the nice hotel "Zum Hirschen". We visited the reconstruction of Mozart's native house and took a walk in town.

Salzburg (Austria)

2 August 1994. We drove to Berchtesgaden and we were very interested in the visit of a former salt mine. We also went to Hitler's former "Eagle's nest", where, in spite of the fog we saw several Yellow-billed Choughs. In Bad Ischl, a famous spa, a White-throated Dipper was having a bath not far from Emperess Sissi's Palace. The cooking was fairly good in Austria on the whole but I was getting tired of the "Frittaten Suppe" and quenelles, or whatever they called them.

Forgensee (Austria)

3 August 1994. After I had been eaten up by mosquitoes in Bad Ischl (where I had to sleep in the bath!) we had a very poor breakfast served by people who had apparently been trained in a yokels' school and we went away without a single regret. We kind of went on a pilgrimage in Mayerling just for the sake of it. We had booked a Bed and Breakfast with the Rosner family in Gablitz, in the neighbourhood of Vienna and we found the place very easily.

4 August 1994. I had some trouble swallowing the "Leberwurst" in the morning but apart from this, we were pleased to be in Gablitz because Vienna was only a few minutes' bus ride away. We took the bus to the capital where we visited the Opera and St-Stephen's Cathedral. Vienna is a pleasant city, not too large, and we had a good idea of what it was like in little time. We then went to the Prater Park to have a general view of the town from the Big Wheel. On the Danube, which isn't that blue, I saw about 10 Yellow-legged Gulls.

The Vienna Opera

5 August 1994. We went to the Palace of Schönbrunn escorted by Austrian guides who rush us through the buildings. It was maddening not to be able to visit anything properly. The Belvedere Museum with its famous paintings, some of which by Klimt or Kokoschka, is worth a visit.

6 August 1994. We left Vienna and decided to have a look at the Puszta near the Lake of Neusiedl. We hadn't booked a room and we had to drive around for a long time before we could find a Bed and Breakfast. We went to a place called "Illmitz Hölle" which is the best birdwatching spot in the area. We observed White Storks, Hooded Crows, Common Snipe, Ruffs, Greylag Geese, Egyptian Geese, Kentish Plovers and Green Sandpipers. We would have liked to reach the shores of the lake itself but it proved impossible. There were actually a few hides but they were placed miles away from the water. A lot of roads were toll roads our closed to traffic. We were nevertheless able to see 3 Great Egrets.

7 August 1994. We returned to "Illmitz Hölle" where we saw up to 18 Egyptian Geese, a Whimbrel, a Black Tern, a Common Greenshank, 2 Pied Avocets, a Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshanks, 150 Black-tailed Godwits, many Turtle Doves, some Red-backed Shrikes together with some more common birds. We looked for the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in the reserve of "Waasen Hansag" but couldn't find any of these birds. I was told I should come back in April when the birds court.

The Puzta

8 August 1994. We left Austria heading for the Czech Republic. It took us 45 minutes to cross the border and the contrast was striking from many points of view. The first villages we moved through looked a poor sight and I felt ill at ease overtaking all those Trabants, Ladas and other Eastern technological wonders. We arrived in Prague late in the afternoon and very easily found the "Karl Inn" hotel where we had booked a room. There, we met a married couple of friends who were to travel on with us. In the evening, we took a stroll in the town dotted with splendid monuments whose poor condition and dirty aspect came to us as a surprise. Then, we had a nice meal in a pleasant restaurant.

9 August 1994. I had a bad start that day. First I was unable to get some sleep because of the noisy traffic and then I was robbed by 5 men in the underground. A lot of people looked suspicious to us now but we were undeterred and still visited nice places like the Town Hall Square, the Jewish Cemetery, the Grand Hotel Europa or the Charles IV Bridge. As to the latter, we were surprised to see how filthy the statues and lamp-posts were.

The Town Hall Square in Prague

10 August 1994. We were still on our guards because of potential pickpockets but we went on with our visits: St-Vit's Cathedral, the Steinkerk Museum, the Golden Street, the Palace and the Mala Strana area. We had a very nice meal at the restaurant "U Pavouka" but we felt angry because most people were not very friendly or tried to fleece us and in the evening the hotel shower only spouted a few drops of rusty water.

11 August 1994. We had mixed feeling when we left Prague and went on to Karlovy Vary, which we found rather disappointing. It was not the case with the former Marienbad which is now called Marianska Lazne. It is really a very beautiful city and it will remain a pleasant memory of this trip which was 3000 km long.

List of species.

I classified the following birds in the order I saw them on the spot.

01 Mute Swan Cygnus olor
02 Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris
03 Lesser Redpoll Acanthis cabaret
04 Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
05 Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
06 Common Raven Corvus corax
07 Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
08 Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
09 Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus
10 Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
11 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
12 Spotted Nutcracker Nicifraga caryocatactes
13 White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
14 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
15 White Stork Ciconia ciconia
16 Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
17 Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
18 Ruff Philomachus pugnax
19 Greylag Goose Anser anser
20 Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptica
21 Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
22 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
23 Great Egret Casmerodius albus
24 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
25 Black Tern Chlidonias niger
26 Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
27 Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
28 Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
29 Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
30 Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
31 Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
32 Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio

Other animal species :

Marmot (Marmota marmota)

Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra)




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