Thursday 11 February 2016

The Karst in late winter

Recently I've been out just around the Karst (mostly in Slovenia), because of the poor weather. Still, I managed to catch a couple of sunny days. Today I found the above Fox Vulpes vulpes basking in the sun at the woodland edge by a local road. Apparently this individual isn't bothered by the presence of humans. It showed well while sitting, stretching and rolling on the grass, before deciding to walk across a small glade and across the main road.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius. The pair on the Karst I'm visiting regularly is again quite territorial after the winter break. Today lots of spontaneous calling and "mewing", but the birds were only showing briefly. A Green Woodpecker Picus viridis with its "yaffle" was also announcing that spring is on the way.

Loranthus europaeus - a tree-parasite adorning oaks in winter. The yellow fruits are the only touch of colour in the woodland's canopies at this time of year. This plant grows on the branches of trees and steals nutrients and water to the host. The seeds are dispersed by birds, mostly Mistle Thrushes Turdus viscivorus, which are common in the forests where I took these photos.

Crocus reticulatus. A common species on the Karst, especially on dry, stony grasslands. It is the first flower to appear in late winter on such dry meadows. The very rare Crocus weldenii is also out at the same time. Note the dark striping on the outer side of the petals - the character from where the species got its name.

Helleborus multifidus ssp. istriacus - the commonest flower on the woodland floor at the moment. I saw the first already in December, but now the spring newcomers are popping out literally everywhere.

Galanthus nivalis - snowdrops also out in good numbers.

Flock of Bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula. This year, among the flocks seen on the Slovenian Karst, I have frequently heard the "trumpeting" calls associated with the northern (nominate) subspecies pyrrhula. Other observers have noticed these birds as well.

Corylus avellana - hazel's catkins (male flowers).

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus (male).

A small stream in the forest - full of water due to the recent rainfalls.

Meanwhile on the bird table - Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes is (in my opinion) the smartest visitor to the garden. This winter there's also a good influx of Siskins Carduelis spinus (behind the Hawfinch in the pic) - a flock of +20 birds is present on a daily basis.