Monday 13 June 2016

Around western Slovenia...

After the trip to Poland I finally found some time to write a post. It's been a busy few weeks, frequently in the field around my usual "circuit" in western Slovenia. I'm getting the most out of botany at the moment. Thus the post will be a bit long and will comprise very different areas and habitats.


Let's start from Notranjska. At the moment I'm working around Cerknica, so I'm quite frequently at different sites in this region in central Slovenia. The Nanoščica river basin hosts large carpets of Iris sibirica, while some places around lake Cerknica (Cerkniško jezero) are stuffed with Gladiolus illyricus & marshland orchids. The lake itself is drying out now (it is a karstic, temporary lake) and wildlife is gathering around the few bodies of water. The most interesting sight at the lake are two Cranes Grus grus, which are present at the site since April. This is a very unusual time to see a Crane in Slovenia, because most of them migrate through the country in early spring and autumn. Some stay in winter as well, but summer records are rare. The two Cranes are actually behaving very oddly, almost if they would be breeding. Some days ago I watched one of the two birds mobbing an intruding Fox Vulpes vulpes as well as some of the Mallards Anas platyrhynchos present at the site. The Crane was calling loudly all the time and seemed to be territorial. Don't know what was going on. Anyway it would be interesting to follow these two birds in the coming weeks.
Other birds I saw around the lake include: Corncrake Crex crex (several territorial birds), Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus (2-3), Bittern Botaurus stellaris (1 booming), Hobby Falco subbuteo, Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, Garganey Anas querquedula, Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (5),  Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides (1) & several others.
Common Crane Grus grus & Fox Vulpes vulpes, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.
Anacamptis palustris, Cerkniško jezero, 9th June 2016.
Dactylorhiza incarnata, Cerkniško jezero, 9th June 2016.
Gladiolus illyricus, Cerkniško jezero, 9th June 2016.
Iris sibirica ssp. sibirica , Nanoščica river basis, 29th May 2016.
Iris pseudacorus & Leucojum aestivum, Cerkniško jezero, 9th June 2016.
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, Cerkniško jezero, 9th June 2016.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.

Last week I also went to check some Ural Owl Strix uralensis nest-boxes with an owl expert. There were two active breeding pairs in the boxes we checked and we had excellent views of the adult birds nearby. The chicks will be out of the nest anytime soon. 
Below also a few pics of common flowers found in the Dinaric forests of beech & fir (Abieti-Fagetum) at this time of year.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis (female) in the nestbox, Notranjska region, 9th June 2016.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis (female), Notranjska region, 9th June 2016.
Astrantia major, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.
Phyteuma ovatum, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.
Platanthera bifolia, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.
Dactylorhiza fuchsii, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.
Cephalanthera damasonium, Cerkniško jezero, 8th June 2016.


Some days ago I visited the southern edge of Trnovski gozd (Trnovo forest), mount Čaven and Kucelj (1237 m). The flora there was of course a bit late in comparison to that of lower-lying areas, but it was good to catch up with some interesting species after some time. A pair of Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos is now breeding in some cliffs above the town of Ajdovščina, on Čaven's slopes. Apart from that, a calling Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus were the best birds on Čaven.
The view from Čaven south-eastwards to the Vipava valley, 3rd June 2016.
Daphne cneorum, Čaven, 3rd June 2016.
Dactylorhiza sambucina (pale colour variety), Čaven, 3rd June 2016.
Primula auricula & Artemisia nitida, Čaven, 3rd June 2016. The latter is a very rare species in Slovenia, found only on a few locations.
Paederota lutea, Čaven, 3rd June 2016.
Gentiana clusii, Kucelj, 3rd June 2016.
Orchis mascula ssp. speciosa, Kucelj, 3rd June 2016.
Clematis alpina, Kucelj, 3rd June 2016.
Erysimum sylvestre, Kucelj, 3rd June 2016.
Euphorbia triflora, Čaven, 3rd June 2016. Balkanic species with its north-western edge of distribution on Čaven.
Aquilegia atrata, Čaven, 3rd June 2016.
Lilium bulbiferum, Predmeja, 3rd June 2016.
Hemaris sp., Čaven, 3rd June 2016


The Karst is now in full bloom. It is probably the best time to be out for flowers, especially on dry stony meadows. Among the common, but very colorful species, some rarities and scarce species stand out. One of the most amazing is Lilium carniolicum, which can be seen on dry upland meadows, like mount Vremščica (1027 m), where I found them yesterday. Mount Vremščica holds quite good numbers of this beautiful species that got its name from Carniola, a former historical region of Slovenia - the species was first described in Slovenia. 
Below is a small selection of some of the flowers, mostly found on dry stony meadows & nearby woodlands. At the end also a few orchids from the coastal area around Trieste.
Lilium carniolicum, Vremščica, 12th June 2016.
Lilium bulbiferum, Slovenian Karst, 10th June 2016.
Dictamnus albus, Slovenian Karst, 10th June 2016.
Linum narbonense, Slovenian Karst, 29th May 2016.
Orobanche sp. & Rhinanthus freyinii, Slovenian Karst, 29th May 2016.
Phyteuma zahlbruckneri, Slovenian Karst, 10th June 2016.
Himantoglossum adriaticum, Slovenian Karst, 10th June 2016. Amazing mediterranean orchid; in Slovenia found mostly on the coast, in the south-west. It is rare on the Karst, but some isolated populations are found in continental Slovenia too.
Limodorum abortivum, Slovenian Karst, 29th May 2016.
Atropa belladonna, Slovenian Karst, 10th June 2016.
Cephalanthera damasonium (albino specimen), Slovenian Karst, 10th June 2016.
Serapias vomeracea (left) & Anacamptis coriophora ssp. fragrans, Trieste, 31st May 2016.
Anacamptis coriophora ssp. fragrans, Trieste, 31st May 2016.
Ophrys holosericea, Trieste, 31st May 2016.