I was quite lucky with woodpeckers - had all species except Green and Syrian (and Wryneck). The highlight was with no doubt WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos leucotos (ssp. lilfordi). I had a nice male feeding and drumming quite close by, while another one was drumming in the distance. Although they are difficult to find, they aren't shy and usually allow great views. A short video here (watch in HD).
While I was watching the woodpecker, a familiar, but very welcome sound greeted me: the year's first Cuckoo Cuculus canorus. It sang for about one minute and it was actually the only one I heard during the whole day roving in the forests.
|White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos|
While following the White-backed's movements into the forest I came across a URAL OWL Strix uralensis flying through the beech trees. Later I realised there were two - male and female calling each other! I managed to see both and take some quick shots, although there were always just too many twigs to cover the birds. But I'm happy with the result.
|Ural Owl Strix uralensis|
About two seconds after I left the Ural Owl, I was sure I heard a White-backed calling. I looked up on a tree and instead found two Middle Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopos medius doing some courtship. I realised it's quite difficult to tell the difference between the "chip" calls of White-backed and Middle Spot. And it's amazing how so many species of woodpeckers can coexist in the same habitats and micro-locations. During the course of the day I also had 16 Great Spotted Dendrocopos major, 2 Lesser Spotted D. minor, 5 Grey-headed Picus canus, 8 Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius, mostly in broadleaved forest, while a THREE-TOED WOODPECKER Picoides tridactylus was drumming in a conifer stand.
|Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus|
And now the botanical part - a small selection of the most interesting plants covering the forest floor - all are typical representatives of the early-spring flora of Dinaric mountains.
|Omphalodes verna - the most typical flower of Dinaric forests (=Omphalodo-Fagetum).|
|Cardamine kitaibelii growing along the very common C. enneaphyllos|
|The beech forest floor looked a bit like this - dotted all around by H.epipactis, O.verna and Anemone nemorosa (the white one).|
And for a perfect ending of an incredible day... a male Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus that caught a Song Thrush Turdus philomelos in front of my eyes. It took its prey just a few metres away and perched on the forest floor, giving great views for some minutes. It's not frequently that I see such nice males. 90% of all my Sparrowhawk observations involve females.
|Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus|