As the Student Agency bus crosses Ceske Budejovice's city boundary, you probably aren't paying much attention to the glimpse of water beyond a curtain of trees. Within seconds the coach has passed by and the view changes to large out-of-town shopping centres and brightly painted blocks of flats. But the complex of five small lakes is worth a visit. The 25 minute tram ride from Ceske Budejovice's main train station takes you to a very special place.
The lakes may be within a stone's throw of human activity, but they are an amazing reserve for nature, especially but not exclusively for birds. Indeed the noise of the throngs of gulls and terns that inhabit the lakes' small islands can even drown out the sound of traffic on the main road to Pisek and Prague. Although they are the loudest inhabitants of the lake, the gulls and terns are not the rarest (gulls are common even in this country in Central Europe). In among them my husband and I spotted common pochards, the rarer red-crested pochard, little grebes, great crested grebes and black-necked grebes. A pied flycatcher flitted between the branches of the oaks that line the lake's banks. On the opposite bank of the lake farthest away from the road there was a large herony with not only grey herons but also night herons. In total 191 bird species have been seen on the lakes and I can well believe it.
It is an easy walk through the lakes – level and not too long but packed with animals and plants of interest. There are even plenty of information boards to tell us what to look for. The nature reserve is quite simply an amazing place and one for which I am seriously thinking of buying some binoculars. It is enough to make anyone a keen birdwatcher.