Wednesday 21 May 2014

Ortolan day, shrike trio and much more

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana (male)
In the last two days I had some really top quality birding on the Slovenian Karst. Yesterday was Ortolan Bunting day on Kraški rob, where the only remaining vital population for Slovenia remains. I was there with a small group of ornithologists and ringers to start a study on the species. At least 5 ORTOLAN BUNTINGS were holding territories. We enjoyed the buntings for most of the morning, while trying to catch them for colour-ringing. But unfortunately none of them was successfully lured into the mist nets. Instead we managed to catch a female WOODCHAT SHRIKE which was present on the karstic grassland for most of the day.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator - still unringed...
...and later in the hand!
Along with the very abundant Red-backed Shrikes we completed a shrike-trio with a superb male LESSER GREY SHRIKE.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
During the day we had a good entertainment with the shrikes plus with a local pair of Golden Eagles, nesting in a cliff. Male and female were frequently seen on the nest, as well as in the air performing displays above the cliffs.
Male Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos sitting on a pine, overwatching the nest
The most abundant birds on the grasslands were Red-backed Shrikes, Woodlarks, Skylarks and Corn Buntings. Several Northern Bobwhites were also present, advertising their territories all day long. The species has been introduced here as a game species for hunters.
Other birds recorded during the day included: Hoopoe (+5), Cuckoo (+6), Cirl Bunting, Linnet, Hobby (1 mobbing the Golden Eagle), Marsh Harrier (1 f), Hawfinch, Golden Oriole, Alpine Swift, Raven, Tawny Pipit (2), Northern Wheatear (1).
In the evening we rounded up with a chorus of singing Nightjars (+3) and a Scops Owl.

On Monday instead I was out and about in search of BARRED WARBLERS. Without too much effort I found 2 singing males - one of which showed really well on some hawthorn bushes by a local road (viewed from the car!). The same day I also heard my first singing Quail of the year, Wryneck, Hoopoe, Black Woodpecker, Yellowhammer and the first Melodious Warbler.
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria (male)