Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Twites short trip to Trutnoff Festival....

I had been toying with the idea of going back to the Czech Republic for some time, but had no idea I'd go this year for just 2 days. 'Trutnoff' is a music festival that runs for 4 days in mid August which has been held since the mid 80's. I was last at the festival in 1996 and was last at the site with Grant in 2001. The sight itself being held at an old amphitheatre on the historic sight of the 1866 'Battle of Trutnov' during the Austro-Prussian war in the foothills of the Krkonoše Mountains. A ticket for the whole event works out at around £32 or less. One of the festivals 'patrons' is no other than 'Chief' Václav Havel.
Iva Bittova with Dunaj in 1996 from the Trutnov
Festival website
So I set of on Saturday morning at 3am, caught 2 night buses through Drunk London to Heathrow only to find the flight had been delayed for an hour, however in spite of this all Swiss air flights had been grounded so I didn't miss my connection to Prague from Zurich. I had a nice chat with a women going over to see her mother somewhere near Ostrava all the way to the Airport Express coach. Caught a train from Prague for a 3 hour journey to Trutnov. The trip was really pleasant all the way. The most interesting bird of note was a flyby Nutcracker that dived into a small gap in a some conifers somewhere near Trutnov itself. Certainly some beautiful scenery up near the Polish border and I'm always amazed how wild it is, as in how much of the borders and field edges are left weedy with lots of wildflowers and consequently more birds.
My original intention, as before, was to camp at the festival, but I ended up booking hotel. When I arrived at Trutnov a kind women saw me struggling with my old map and walked with me virtually all the way there. She had walked about 4km through the town she said.
Unfortunately by the time I had sorted myself out it was really too late to go and see the headliner on Saturday, Patti Smith, I know that is a crime! The hotel restaurant was closed so I went and got some beers and some junk food from a garage, then went for a walk about in the failing light which was gorgeous. There was some intense flashing light from a distant thunder storm on one side, the laser show from the festival to the south and the sound of crickets everywhere plus in one part of a village boiling steam hissing through a hole in some vast pipe system running though the area added a surreal effect.
The next morning i awoke to a misty morning and walked for a few hours in the pine forests near a place called Webrovka, which appears to be a guest house in the middle of the forests. There were plenty of common species about, the most notable being Firecrest, Crested Tits and Common Crossbills. The bird life was far more interesting in the farmland near the villages with Red-backed Shrikes, 3 Whinchat, Spotted Flycatchers and several Black Redstarts that seemed keen on one bushy garden in particular.
Red-berried Elder (Sambucus pubens)

I went back to the hotel and once I'd asked where it was and located it, had some breakfast then I was off to the Festival for the afternoon. The weather brightening up as I walked through Trutnov.

Needless to say the festival had grown somewhat since I last remembered it, there was one stage and a dance tent in 1996, now there were about 5 separate stages, no dance tent (luckily) and the campsite area was much more extensive, but not on the scale of say, Glastonbury obviously. Beer was 32 koruna, which is about 90p a pint, so had some of them, and some more. Outside of the festival the local beer was 16 koruna, 46p, so had some of them too. There was all manner of good food available. The security guards were friendly and you could take in a camera or virtually anything, even a beer, they didn't spend much time searching, no need to really, the vibe is really good here. You can walk in and out via the camping area and out into the forest, just as I remember, giving the opportunity to take a few trips into the 'battlefield' area to go birding in the forest.
Punks definitely not dead
Not sure who this was but they were bloody good, ska-fusion

During one of my wanders a thrash metal band came on and it thundered through the forest, 'thunder in the hills'. I think it may have been Kreator but they had finished by the time I got back. The second walk I took I was pleased to see my 4th Black Woodpecker of the year, in the same area I had seen them 18 years ago during a thunder storm if I remember correctly.
Cabbage Thistle (Cirsium oleraceum)
Wood Ragwort (Senecio nemorensis)

Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus sylvestris), part of the name at
least sounding rather appropriate at the time (think Chumbawamba)

I headed back and watched group called N.O.H.A who were storming through a set mixing drum and bass with world music and other genres. Then it was the group Tinariwen, nomadic tribal blues-men from Mali. However, as it was Sunday night the opening of their set seemed rather subdued, at least as far as the audience were concerned, however about half way through the auditorium was full again. They are so laid-back that the music just builds and builds with seemingly little effort on their part. They kept asking the audience 'Is okay?' to which there were growing cheers.
N.O.H.A stage dive
Tinariwen stage dive
I think it was about this time I discovered a stall selling absinthe, I had some it was horrible, so I tried absinthe and lemonade, tasted great, felt okay, can't see the problem. But as you can see from these photos below I may have been worse off than I thought.

The last three pictures are of SKA-P from Spain, a very lively ska band and very clever at that. I was talking to a girl who was a huge fan and she offered to hold my stuff while I took the pictures and even then I couldn't manage it. I then remember watching a Czech metal band for a while on the other main stage, then think I left but after giving my beer to a couple who asked for it on the way home I must have absinthe-scooted my way back to the hotel as suddenly it was morning and I had to leave.

I was hoping to spend a bit of time in Prague on the way back but there just wasn't enough time. The flight on the way back meant a 3 hour stopover in Basel, which meant I could do a bit of birding on the Swiss side of the border, this turned out to be impossible as I could not find anywhere to go, there was what looked like a lake but it was fenced off and a kind gentleman gave me a lift back to the airport. So I walked through the airport to the French side (the only way to cross the border at this point) and tried to find a nature reserve called the Petite Camargue, but ended up in a place called Saint-Louis instead and seeing as there wasn't enough time I made do with that, it was nice and French anyway. On the way back there were 2 Pied and 2 Spotted Flycatchers by the airport.

Meadow Clary (Salvia pratensis)

Brown Knapweed (Centaurea jacea)
Wild Marjoram (Oreganum vulgare)

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