Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bratislava trip

The suburbs of Bratislava are nice green leafy areas, and plenty of forest parks. For some it is best avoiding the graffiti laden stag/hen party districts of the city. The legacy from the Soviet days, much in evidence, is crumbling concrete and tenement blocks and a curious UFO style structure above the Nový most (New bridge) over the River Danube. The public transport system is efficient and only costs buttons. Some of the buses and trams are a little old though.

Having experienced Hungary in May last year I went prepared for the insects and sun with my special edition super roll-on tropical insect repellant and factor 50 sun protection cream and sun hat, I wasn’t taking any chances. Having finished my cold breakfast, thinking when is the main course arriving, then forgetting I was in continental breakfast country, I walked towards the UFO bridge and heard and saw lots of swift screaming above and walking the bridge lots of house martins were nesting underneath. It was nice to be looking down on them.

I started at Sad Janka Kráľa named after a Slovak poet. It is also the oldest public park in Europe and is alongside the River Danube. Here I saw nuthatch, blackcap, blackbird, great and blue tit, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch and serin. There were green woodpeckers, great spotted woodpeckers and spotted flycatchers. Interestingly there were carrion crows and hooded crows in the same vicinity, jackdaws and jays too. I arrived there quite early and saw a hare and red squirrels. The best sighting was a red backed shrike on the edge of the park.

Red-backed shrike
Later I walked along the bank of the Danube and didn’t see many birds on the river, with the odd cormorant flying low and black headed gulls and a few yellow legged gulls. In the wooded area I heard first then saw a nightingale, a lovely sound. Also high up in the canopy I saw golden orioles, their song once heard never forgotten. Later there were also some common terns flying over the river. Lots of chaffinches, chiffchaffs, blackbirds, etc.

The second day I tried Horsky Park, about 6 km outside the city. It is just a wonderful park and covering 22 hectares, and just big enough to walk peacefully listening to the birdsong of the usual suspects. I came across wood warblers, a collared flycatcher and golden orioles, as well as the more common song birds.

The third day, Sunday, I tried Bratislava Forest park and so did the population of Bratislava because it was heaving. Runners, cyclists, trekkers, dog walkers, day trippers, barbecue cookers and a bird watcher were trying to make a day of it.  It covers an area of 27.3 km² and 96% is forested and much on a hill.  I went into the quieter tightly packed forest area and didn’t pass many others, and the incline seemed never ending. I disturbed some red deer whilst trying a path that led to nowhere. The temperature was 30+ and I, along with four and twenty blackbirds were being baked. The blackbirds had more than the heat to contend with as goshawks were flying high, in the odd clearing making viewing possible. I arrived at the top and came across the aptly named Altitude restaurant, with a 200m high tower that can be seen from the whole of Bratislava. I came across a middle spotted woodpecker toing and froing from its nest.

Some signs in English

The last day I went left of the new bridge towards Hungary, and after the heavy overnight thunderstorm I had to sidestep lots of puddles. A collared flycatcher was nesting and singing high up looking onto the Danube. What a delightful song they have.  Lots of singing blackcaps and chaffinches, martins and swallows catching insects. I walked quite a distance knowing I couldn’t get lost if I carried on close to the river. I then heard a golden oriole, then a few and saw lots of them flying in between trees, even on the lower branches. They are a wonderful sight. I then flushed a nightingale and the unmistakable brown colouring of the wing, I heard at least 10 singing. I then had a wonderful musical interlude. All at the same time I heard golden oriole, nightingale, blackcap, song thrush and icterine warbler singing. It was la crème de la crème, Sunday night at the London Palladium, front row seats at Carnegie Hall to see Renee and Renato.

Looking onto the Danube
I had an early flight next morning and after another cold breakfast and a lukewarm cappuccino, or was it a latte?  I made my way to the airport and just about managed to squeeze on the 61 bus during another early morning Slovakian rush hour. I was so taken in with the proceedings I forgot to mark my bus ticket in the machine. I was thankful an inspector didn't get on and tell me in a foreign language I owed a 40 euro fine.



RSPB Liverpool Local Group. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no' 207076, Scotland no. SC037654 said...

Rob, you keep researching these places and then we can all have a good trip out there.

Laura said...

Sounds like you had a good time, and as Chris says your finding lots of places for our hit list!