Saturday 23 August 2014

Nanos Gold

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos - first one in flight and then two (adults) perched together.
Yesterday was a fresh and sunny day and I spent it on the grassy plateau of mount Nanos, at around 800 metres. The main focus were raptors and at the end I was quite happy with the results. First mention goes to the resident GOLDEN EAGLES Aquila chrysaetos which required a bit of waiting and scanning to be seen, but provided the biggest interest. Two adult birds (probaby a pair) were sat on a hill for most of the time I was up there (see pics).
Common Buzzards Buteo buteo were outnumbered by Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus (7 birds) which were also quite vocal - probably a family party or something. Apart from the resident Kestrels Falco tinnunculus (2), Sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus (2) and Ravens Corvus corax (2), the most welcome was a Peregrine Falco peregrinus.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus
Of the other birds, a special mention goes to an interesting migrant: a RING OUZEL Turdus torquatus (female) hiding in some small pine trees. This is the second time I see the species on migration on Nanos, but the first time I see one in autumn, when they are much scarcer in my opinion. So a good find.
Migration was otherwise constantly visible with streams of House Martins Delichon urbicum passing at regular intervals (hundreds). Mixed among them were also some Swallows Hirundo rustica, but not in such big numbers. A flock of 14 Crossbills Loxia curvirostra was also of note and some Tree Pipits Anthus trivialis were also passing overhead at times. Three Crag Martins Ptyonoprogne rupestris and a few Rock Buntings Emberiza cia were seen along the steep rocky slopes by the road. Two Stonechats Saxicola torquatus and a Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio were either migrants or local breeders. "Calls from the forest" included numerous Crested Tits Lophophanes cristatus and a Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius.
Not really full of wildflowers (the peak season here is already over), but still a good variety of typical upland karstic plants. Wild garlics (Allium) are now in full bloom (represented by the two species below) and are forming impressive carpets in some places.
Allium ericetorum/ochroleucum (light yellow one) and Allium senescens/montanum (pinkish)
Knautia fleischmannii - an endemic plant in Slovenia
Aconitum variegatum
Carlina acaulis
Sanguisorba officinalis on Nanos' grassy plateau.