Czech Republic to the border of Romania

The first stop in the Czech republic was just outside the city of Brno.  We took the easy route from our campsite in to the city centre.

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A quiet walk along the riverbank, a ferry boat along the river and across the lake, and a tram-ride in to the centre of Brno itself.

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It was market day and stalls had taken over the town square.

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Some very strange street decorations here in Brno.

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Just when you thought it was safe to go to the market…..

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No one climbed up on this statue but Sheila played hide and seek amongst its legs.  No not a new Photoshop perspective adjustment layer just a weird knight on very tall horse.

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Not exactly a local carnivore but I am guessing it was an exhibit in the museum until it got too stinky for indoors and they suspended it in a covered archway outside.

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One of the residents of the lake.  A Mandarin Duck.  Possibly part of the resident population breeding from escapees.  No apology this blog for the number of birds it is just that I have seen so many. 

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Definitely not an exotic this one.  A purebred LBJ eating a purebred green caterpillar.  Can you tell what it is yet?  Answers on a self addressed postcard. No stamp needed.

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This one is far more easy to recognise even if all you sense is its call.  The Cuckoo.

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Just over the border to Slovakia is the town of Trencin with its floodlit castle above the River Vah. The fortifications go back to Roman times and the town is very proud of its Roman inscription.

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WE camped by a fishing lake and I had my £4.00 worth of carp fishing and landed the biggest fish I have ever caught at twenty one and a half pounds.  He took a wad of white bread on the bottom and was a real struggle to get to the net as I didn’t even have mine by me and had to send two young lads scurrying for theirs.  My perfect fishing tackle setup.  Rod  …  Reel   …   Line   …   Hook   …   Bread.  Just like I did sixty years ago.

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Along the river there is some definitely peculiar fungal growth.  I never did go back at night to see if it glowed in the dark.

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High on a rocky outcrop above Zilina another castle.

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Here is something you don’t run across every day.  A fully fledged international dog show with contestants from as far away as Kazakhstan.  They all turned up on our campsite for the weekend.   Here are the Bulgarian Sheepdog Breeder team proudly showing their wares at the No. 1 position.

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Where this ugly little mutt came from is a mystery to all.

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Enough weeds growing in this wheat field to automatically bake poppy-seed loaves.

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Another rocky fortress, this one in Oravice.

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Some more modern warfare hardware.  An enterprising man from Podbiel uses his three tanks to give white knuckle rides  across some rough terrain. He looks as though he has taken aim at our motorhome.  Look out Sheila.

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The spa town of Oravice has a campsite up in the hills “where the deer and the antelope play”, well at least this red deer that wandered down from the mountains and took a short cut through our campsite did.

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She seemed quite unperturbed by the campers and me taking shots through our bedroom window.

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Later that same day, her buddy the fox seemed quite as unconcerned as she was .  He wasn’t interested in the lemon from my Gin and Tonic which was all the food I had to throw his way at the time.

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Far from exotic but a beautiful painted lady butterfly.

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This was at the top of a 2 hour hike up in to the mountains.  Luckily there was a fellow photographer more than willing to snap the two of us.

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No! Honestly we walked up the first day then we went by ski lift the next day.

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Someone’s idea of fun or perhaps a mad effort to get the passing tourist trade.  An upside down house, the Statue of Liberty  with a rescue helicopter.  Snapped through the window at umpteen miles per hour.

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Rakova Dolina certainly go in for elaborate road signs.

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As we travelled south through Germany, Poland, Czech Republic Hungary and Romania we have seen hundreds of stork nests.  These are usually telegraph poles with a sort of wagon wheel arrangement nailed to the top.  The storks are actively encouraged in all of the continental countries within their range.  Pairs of storks build upon previous nests and this one clearly shows annual increments and perhaps four or five successful broods have been raised on this pole.  Some villages have a nest every 300 metres along their high street which amounts to perhaps  10 nests with an average of 3 chicks in each.  Just as well there are as many because the chicks have to encounter the brave hunters of Malta on their southerly migration.

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We spent some time climbing along a remote country road only to discover that the road shown on the map was a dusty, bumpy cart track and we had to turn round and find an alternative route.  But serendipity had us in hand and we passed by this old wooden church just as the custodian was shutting shop.  He gave us the onceover and allowed (Strictly against the rules!) me to take some photographs.

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The outside was plain wood but inside it was so elaborately painted it gave you quite a shock to walk through the door.  It was so tiny inside I couldn’t step back far enough to get the whole wall in one shot.

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On a far greater scale in Jasov is the Baroque monastery complex of the Premonstratesians.  An imposing building housing a school and a monastery.

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So good I had to photograph it twice.

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Where it comes from nobody knows

or where it goes to but on it goes.

(Thanks W. B. Rands and a primary school teacher from Clapham Voluntary Primary School Circa 1959)

The railway track with no station, no passengers, no carriages and no engine but the rails exhibit some use somehow.

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An unusual fellow this one, the nine spotted moth.

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Oops there goes another grasshopper.  I think you can see me reflected in the thrushes eye.

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Its those pincers around the females neck that get me. Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo)

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Now if I’ve got this right I should land just between Susan and Peter….Err….LOOKOUT!  By this time the White Stork chicks were overcrowding the nests a little.

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Never seen on Dawlish Beach.  but the owners of Tutajos beach would like you to leave your WMDs at home.

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I have never seen this before, I have never heard of it before, in fact I have never imagined it possible: a rock concert on horseback.   The man was singing via wireless microphone, the horse was DANCING around the arena and all the old folks were singing along like the choir.

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Been in the sun for some years with a smile on her face.

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The red veined darter dragonfly.  Clocked him perching above a ditch whilst out for a walk.

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Way way in the distance, my first glimpse of black storks.  Slightly smaller than their white cousins and way shyer.

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for comparison.

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Another flying marvel, a Southern Darter in flight above a lake.

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This is how I happened to be above the lake alongside the dragonfly.

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And I snapped these Moorhens.

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You can take your motorhome over the lake or even over the river if you trust this paddlesteamer ferry.

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Just as surprised to see us as we were to see it.

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Over the border in Hungary we visited the Hortobagy nature reserve.   Based on ancient fish ponds and natural wetlands Hortobagy provides an ideal environment for 320 species of birds.  Here are some long horned ducks.

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A whiskered Tern

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A night Heron

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And just to give some perspective to the environment, a lonely Great white  Egret  in a mile square fishpond covered in floating vegetation.  Not a lot of opportunity here for wandering off the beaten track.

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They graze water buffalo here to stir up the muddy waters I think so that Egrets can find all the frogs.

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Above a piece of woodland in the reserve a few Red Footed Falcons snatch the insects.

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And just to show that the local farmers have a bit of a sense of humour Here are Mr and Mrs B.B. Silage

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Another reminder of the cold war or even of a hot one.

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More of the farmer’s famous sense of humour.  A stretched tractor.  Can you see his leg sticking out of the side of the cab? Where are the brakes?

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Saying goodbye and looking forward to the Romanian episode of the Jansellsbond blog is the common blue butterfly.

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