Sunday 20 October 2013

Dinaric forest full immersion

I'm back from three days of university field lessons on the Snežnik plateau and surrounding Dinaric forests (Slovenia). The weather has been absolutely brilliant with sunny conditions and some nice chilly mornings and evening (touched 0 degrees C). We mainly visited forest areas around Mašun and Sviščaki, climbed on the top of mt. Snežnik (1796 m.a.s.) and visited the Krokar primary forest (virgin forest) near Kočevje. The trip was conduced for the subject of ecology, so wasn't strictly birding-related. However I managed to see a couple of interesting species here and there. Highlight were my first REDWINGS for the season - flock of 6 seen on two consecutive days at Mašun. A few times I also heard autumn's first Bramblings and Siskins passing overhead, among the very abundant Chaffinches. Common, but interesting upland forest species included: Crossbill (very common), Bullfinch (feasting on rowan berries), Goldcrest, Coal and Willow Tit, Raven, Mistle Thrush, Hawfinch, Black Woodpecker (2 heard), Crested Tit, Treecreeper (2). Also a single Nutcracker was heard calling. Interesting raptors included a Peregrine and a Goshawk soaring above the steep cliffs of Krokar plateau. On the way back home I also spotted a Great Grey Shrike at Bloško polje (from the bus). All in all a good couple of days. Here's a few landscape pics:
Mt. Snežnik (the right top) as seen from Sviščaki
Top of mt. Snežnik with its extensive mountain pine Pinus mugo stand
Mountain pine Pinus mugo
Temperature inversion in one of Snežnik's valleys
Clear-cut border between upland beech forest and mountain pine stand
Looking north-east
Carlina acaulis
Erica carnea
Krokar primary forest - mainly composed of beech Fagus sylvatica and silver fir Abies alba
Krokar's south-facing edge with cliffs - Peregrine's habitat
Native black pine Pinus nigra stands on thermophilic south-facing slope