Wednesday 11 November 2015

Owls and woodpeckers in Trnovski gozd

On Sunday I was in Trnovski gozd (Trnovo forest) enjoying forest owls and woodpeckers. The highlight was a TENGMALM'S OWL Aegolius funereus which I attracted by imitating (whistling) its song. The bird responded quickly and showed brilliantly for a few minutes in a conifer tree, twisting and waving its head with the characteristic "astonished" look. So far the best views I've ever had of this difficult-to-see species. The picture is from a Natura 2000 information panel in Trnovski gozd.
PYGMY OWL Glaucidium passerinum (second pic by Sara Cernich) - two of these were singing close to the Tengmalm's' location. One of them was easy to spot as it had a "cloud" of small, buzzing birds around it (mainly Coal Periparus ater and Willow Tit Poecile montanus). The show went on till dark when one bird was still delivering its song from a spruce (last pic). Looks like a good year for Pygmy Owl in Trnovski gozd.
Female Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus (by Sara Cernich) - at least two birds were seen; one on the same trees as the Pygmy Owl (difficult to choose where to watch!). Both were females and both were frequently mobbed by Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major, while feeding on dead spruces. Other woodpeckers included a Grey-headed Picus canus and two Black Dryocopus martius (while recently I had again two Middle Spotted Woodpeckers Dendrocopos medius on the Slovenian Karst).
A small group of old conifers, where the first Three-toe was seen. Woodpeckers prefer dying trees (like the above) to those already dead from a long time. Dying trees have still large amounts of bark and support a richer invertebrate fauna.
Mature conifer forest with a lot of decaying wood - the climax habitat for woodpeckers and owls. Black Woodpecker's feeding holes can be seen in the photo.
Autumn-coloured larches Larix decidua.
Large fungus (possibly the largest I've ever seen) growing out of a dead Norway spruce Picea abies. For me these fungi are usually a good indicator of forest maturity and wilderness.
Iceland moss Cetraria islandica - a rare moss in Trnovski gozd, which is otherwise a widespread boreal species (N Europe, N America). It is very sensitive to air pollution, so is a good indicator of clean, unpolluted air. In the past it was traditionally used in pharmacy/medicine.
Sphagnum nemoreum (capillifolium).
Mt. Krn in the Julian Alps (see this post) is usually visible from Trnovski gozd.

I'll round up the post with a nice "flick of crimson" from a Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria, two weeks ago at the Škocjan caves (Škocjanske jame) near Divača. One of the many Wallcreepers that spend the winter on the Karst.