Friday, 28 November 2014

Dipper fest

Dipper Cinclus cinclus
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis & Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea - two usual neighbours of the Dipper, sharing the same stretch of stream.
Dippers are amazing. They never end to entertain you. The pair on the Hubelj stream in Ajdovščina seems already settled, always sticking around the area where they nested last year. The male today also delivered a short, but melodic song, while perched on its favoured rock. Video here and here (watch in HD).

On these links I also uploaded two videos of two different Three-toed Woodpeckers from last Sunday. Listen out for the characteristic "feeding knocking". Enjoy.
Three-toed 1
Three-toed 2

Monday, 24 November 2014

Snežnik delights

Ural Owl Strix uralensis
Spending Sundays in the Dinaric forests seems the best way to enjoy the autumn season while it lasts (before the arrival of snow). Yesterday, after two weeks, I was roving again around the Snežnik plateau with some friends. Despite the clear weather and bright sunshine we decided to stay in the forest and try to find some forest specialties. As almost usual in these places, several species appeared in front of us "as if by magic". In the morning I stopped the car almost randomly in a coniferous forest and after a small walk around we found at least 3 different female THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS Picoides tridactylus, feeding quietly on dead spruces. They all allowed very close views and didn't really care the presence of 4 people under their feeding tree. Three-toed is probably one of the most confiding birds I know.
This is how a Three-toed Woodpecker looks like from below, if you're hugging the tree where it's feeding.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus - female
A Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius was also nearby, sometimes flushing the Three-toeds away when landing on their feeding trees.
Later in the morning we spotted a URAL OWL Strix uralensis which was hunting by a forest road. A bit of patience produced about half and hour of great views, mostly from the car.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis
The third lucky stop was in the afternoon, in a pure beech forest, where we first heard and then also saw a female WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos leucotos. I have now seen more White-backs in a year, than ever before in my life!
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos - female
On the woodpecker list of the day goes also a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor, heard at the edge of the forests, earlier in the day. Otherwise we didn't see or heard many other species of birds. The forest is getting very quiet now. A few tit species, Treecreepers Certhia familiaris and Siskins Carduelis spinus were present as usual. Mammals were represented only by two Red Deers Cervus elaphus.
All in all another excellent day in the kingdom of forests.

Friday, 14 November 2014

White-backed Woodpecker

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos ssp. lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik (Slovenia).
November is usually a very quiet month bird-wise, unless you go to look for something really special. White-backed Woodpecker IS special, so here I posted a couple more pics of this amazing and rare species (taken on Sunday).
Today I was out on the Karst and saw 2 Great Grey Shrikes Lanius excubitor and several Bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula, which were probably the day's highlight. I'm not really used to see them on the Karst. In fact they are quite scarce at low latitudes. But this autumn I already had one (a week ago). It may be a good winter for them. Yesterday also my first Rooks Corvus frugilegus of the winter season, in the lowlands of Friuli (NE Italy).

Sunday, 9 November 2014

White-back, Three-toe, Ural & more!

WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos leucotos ssp. lilfordi. Brilliant views of this male for more than 20 minutes as it fed and preened on a beech tree (video). Later it moved on the ground to "work" a rotten tree...and alongside it was...surprise:
THREE-TOED WOODPECKER Picoides tridactylus (female) feeding on a dead Norway spruce, just a few metres away from the White-backed Woodpecker!

URAL OWL Strix uralensis hunting in the middle of the day in a spruce forest. Perched in full view for several minutes and allowing a quite close approach.

Tawny Owl Strix aluco curiously attracted to the car's lights. Kept following the car for a while.

Excellent all-day birding in the Snežnik forests. Apart from the above, I also had a WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola (flying across a forest road and then perched on the ground in full view), a Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus and a Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor near Koritnice. And of course loads of common forest birds.

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus
Amazing views of a female THREE-TOED WOODPECKER Picoides tridactylus today in Trnovski gozd. First I heard it feeding, then I got closer and found it working a dead silver fir Abies alba. It wasn't disturbed by my presence and so it allowed close views for at least 45 minutes. It sometimes called shortly and also drummed once. Video below and here.
Three-toed Woodpecker habitat
Lots of other common birds in the forest, including a Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes & Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius.
At dusk a TENGMALM'S OWL Aegolius funereus delivered two short calls (squirrel-like), while an unexpected WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola made a short flight above a forest glade. This was my first Woodcock after several years (3 or 4 maybe), so I was quite glad to see one.
All in all an excellent day in one of my favourite places.
Good night