Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The essence of Cerkniško jezero

Last weekend we were once again on lake Cerknica (Cerkniško jezero), both for work and leisure. After a successful day's guiding, during which we also met a young Brown Bear Ursus arctos, we took a few hour's canoe ride on the lake and enjoyed in the wetland wildlife. Not many birds around at this time of year (apart from this), but an excellent selection of amphibious flora. The weekend was livened up by a few more interesting sightings, including a daytime Pine Marten Martes martes in the forests of Javorniki, a Rose-coloured Starling Pastor roseus in the farmlands of Dolenje Jezero (part of this year's large influx of the species), several Common Rosefinches Carpodacus erythrinus, a Black Stork Ciconia nigra, a Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius and a booming Bittern Botaurus stellaris. Among the many butterflies, the most interesting was the large and beautiful Purple Emperor Apatura iris on our way back home.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Javorniki mountains (photos by Simone Grossule). We encountered this young "teddy bear" whilst driving on a forest road, not far from lake Cerknica, in the Javorniki mountains.

Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Javorniki mountains.

Yellow Water-lily Nuphar lutea, Stržen stream (Cerknica lake).

Amphibious Bistort Polygonum amphibium (Persicaria amphibia), Cerknica lake.

Mare's-tail Hippuris vulgaris, Cerknica lake.

Scannning the reeds in the middle of Cerknica lake.

At the entrance of the Suhadolca cave at the north-western edge of the lake.

Purple Emperor Apatura iris, Rakov Škocjan. A large, impressive and rather rare butterfly inhabiting mountain forests. Note the electric-blue reflection on the upperwings. Most easily observed along forest roads, sucking minerals from animal's droppings or at puddles.

Sara & the Emperor.

 Woodland Brown Lopinga achine, Javorniki mountains.
Very common species along forest roads.

Lesser Marbled Fritillary Brenthis ino, Cerkniško jezero.

False Heath Fritillary Melitaea diamina, Cerkniško jezero.

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, Cerkniško jezero.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Wild Slovenia in Spring - Naturetrek tour

We are just back from a busy two weeks in the field, mainly based around the Notranjska region. We've been co-leading a general wildlife tour for Naturetrek as well as doing short custom trips, both to Notranjska and Primorska, including two interesting days in the company of Peter Alfrey (his posts here & here). The places we visited include: lake Cerknica, mount Slivnica, Javorniki & Snežnik mountains, Loška dolina, Planinsko polje, Rakov Škocjan, mount Nanos & Vremščica and some Karst around Divača and Sežana. Due to the high temperatures and summer weather we were mostly enjoying in butterflies (saw around 50 species) and plants, whilst birds were thinner on the ground. Among birds we observed both Ural Owl Strix uralensis & Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus as well as Black Stork Ciconia nigra (on a daily basis) and commoner open-areas birds like Corncrake Crex crex, Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria, Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, Quail Coturnix coturnix, Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Hoopoe Upupa epops & Curlew Numernius arquata (probably breeding at lake Cerknica). Among mammals the most interesting was a chorus of 2-3 howling Golden Jackals Canis aureus in the middle of the day, in the Karst near Divača. Below is a long selection of photos, arranged more or less in a "habitat order", starting with forest, then wet meadows, grasslands and finally mountain pastures. Enjoy!

Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Javorniki mountains.
The activity at the nest continues; juveniles have fledged and the adults are more active at the nest-hole at the moment.

Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Loška dolina.
We've seen two different birds; one at the nestbox site and the other flushed from the road.

Poplar Admiral Limenitis populi, Snežnik mountains.
One of the highlights of the Naturetrek tour. A rare species in Slovenia, due to the rarity of its food plant - Aspen Populus tremula.

Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna (right) & Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina (left), Iška river.

Yellow Daylily Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, Iška river.
A rare plant in the Dinaric mountains, usually found in wet forest along rivers and in gorges.
Thanks to Christiane Weisbecker for the find & directions!

Hungarian Glider Neptis rivularis, Planina cave.

Martagon Lily Lilium martagon, Iška river.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary Clossiana euphrosyne, Loška dolina.

Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina, Iška river.

Red Helleborine Cephalanthera rubra, Iška river.
An unexpected and excellent find - rare species in the Notranjska region.

Large Yellow Foxglove Digitalis grandiflora, Iška river.

Justin's Bellflower Campanula justiniana, Planina cave. 
An endemic species of southern Slovenia and NW Croatia.

Summer Bolete Boletus aestivalis, Javorniki mountains.

Horvath's Rock Lizard Iberolacerta horvathi, Rakov Škocjan. 
A rare lizard of south-eastern Europe.

Dice Snake Natrix tessellata, river Kokra (northern Slovenia).

White Admiral Limenitis camilla, mount Slivnica.

Woodland Brown Lopinga achine, mount Slivnica.

Lesser Butterfly-orchid Platanthera bifolia, Javorniki mountains.

Greater Butterfly-orchid Platanthera chlorantha, Snežnik forests.

White Helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium, mount Slivnica.

Deadly Nightshade Atropa belladonna, Cerkniško jezero.

Bladder-nut Styphylea pinnata, Cerkniško jezero.

Wet meadows at Cerkniško jezero (by the Cerknica lake).

Illyrian Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus, Cerkniško jezero.

Marsh Helleborine Epipactis palustris, Cerkniško jezero.

Bog Orchid Anacamptis palustris, Cerkniško jezero.

Large Copper Lycaena dispar, Cerkniško jezero.

Marsh Gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe, Planinsko polje.

False Heath Fritillary Melitaea diamina, Cerkniško jezero.

Common Hedgehyssop Gratiola officinalis, Bloška planota.

Fen Ragwort Senecio paludosus, Cerkniško jezero.

Ashy-headed Wagtail Motcailla flava ssp. cinereocapilla, Cerkniško jezero.

Wet meadows with Shining Meadow-rue Thalictrum lucidum, Planinsko polje.

Flowering-rush Butomus umbellatus, Cerkniško jezero.

Narrow-leaved Water Plantain Alisma lanceolatum, Cerkniško jezero.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Cerkniško jezero.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Cerkniško jezero.

Traditional haystacks in Loška dolina, called "ostrnice".

Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas in a field of Wheat Triticum aestivum, Cerkniško jezero.

Barley Hordeum vulgare, Cerkniško jezero.

Large Venus's-looking-glass Legousia speculum-veneris, Cerkniško jezero.

Beehives at Cerkniško jezero.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros, Grad Snežnik.

Adonis Blue Lysandra bellargus, mount Slivnica.

Cream-spot Tiger Epicallia villica, Iška river.

Nettle-tree Butterfly Libythea celtis, Cerkniško jezero.
We found this dead butterfly by the lake as well as seen two live specimen above Koritnice. A species usually associated with coastal and warmer areas of western Slovenia.

Mountain meadows on Vremščica with swathes of flowering Dropwort Filipendula vulgaris.

Geranium Argus Aricia eumedon, mount Nanos & Slivnica. 
We observed this scarce butterfly at least 3 times on different mountains, including several individuals on mount Vremščica.

Chestnut Heath Coenonympha glycerion, mount Vremščica.

Rock Knapweed Centaurea rupestris, Karst.

Dark Green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja, Karst.

Marbled White Melanargia galathea, Karst.

Weaver's Fritillary Closiana dia, Karst.

Carniolan Burnet Zygaena carniolica, Karst.

Owlfly Libelloides macaronius, Karst.

Ornate Bush-cricket Poecilimon ornatus, Karst.

Bladder Gentian Gentiana utriculosa, mount Slivnica.

Sticky Flax Linum viscosum, mount Slivnica.

Clustered Bellflower Campanula glomerata, mount Slivnica.

Burnt-tip Orchid Neotinea ustulata, mount Slivnica.

Adriatic Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum adriaticum, Karst.

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis, Bloška planota.

Great Masterwort Astrantia major, mount Slivnica.

Dark Rampion Phyteuma ovatum, mount Slivnica.

Zahlbruckner's Rampion Phyteuma zahlbruckneri, mount Slivnica.

Orange Lily Lilium bulbiferum, mount Slivnica.

Lurid Bolete Boletus (Suillellus) luridus, mount Slivnica.

 False Helleborine Veratrum album, mount Slivnica.

Flower meadow on mount Slivnica.

Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma, Bloška planota.

Assmann's Fritillary Melitaea britomartis, Bloška planota.

Heath Fritillary Melitaea athalia, mount Nanos.

Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis, mount Nanos.

Small Blue Cupido minimus, mount Nanos.

Black-veined White Aporia crataegi, mount Nanos.

Carniolan Lily Lilium carniolicum, mount Nanos.

Kojnik's Iris Iris sibirica ssp. erirrhiza, mount Nanos.