Monday, 25 July 2016

Summer wildlife & karstic caves

Hoopoe Upupa epops (juvenile), 
Karst near Trieste, 24th July 2016. 
Quite frequent (but still declining) bird in the Karst, 
inhabiting mostly dry stony grassland and pastures.
Eryngium amethystinum
Slovenian Karst, 18th July 2016. 
The most typical late-summer flower on stony karstic meadows.
Digitalis laevigata
Slovenian Karst, 18th July 2016. 
Scarce plant found only in some parts of the Karst. 
In the area of Divača I found it growing quite commonly.
Spiranthes aestivalis
Bloško polje, 22nd July 2016. 
Very rare orchid species in Slovenia, only found on Bloško polje - 
a wetland area with a meandering river in the Notranjska region.
Epipactis palustris
Bloško polje, 22nd July 2016. 
Beautiful summer orchid of wet meadows and damp forests.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus (juvenile), 
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016.
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
Habitat of the Apollo butterfly Parnassius apollo, which has a small and isolated population on these rocky slopes. Most of the Slovene population of this endangered and declining butterfly is found in the Julian Alps.
Sedum album
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
Feeding plant for caterpillars of Apollo Parnassius apollo.
Sempervivum tectorum
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
Very common, but always attractive plant of rocky limestone habitats all over the Karst.
Zygaena carniolica (or similar), 
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016.
Satyrus ferula - female (left) & male (right), 
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
Rare butterfly of dry rocky grassland of the High Karst in western Slovenia.
Argynnis aglaja
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
Very common, together with A. paphia.
Gentiana lutea ssp. symphyandra
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
A typical plant of High Karst meadows, found on sunny, grassy slopes. 
Nowadays it's not as common as it used to be.
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
Grassy pastures are confined to the very edge of the limestone plateau. 
The Golaki mountains (in the Trnovo forest) are standing in the back.
Epipactis atrorubens
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016.
Otliško okno (Otlica "window"), 
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
A natural "window" between two massive limestone blocks, 
through which you can enjoy spectacular views over the Vipava valley.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, 19th July 2016. 
A nest with two chicks (just about to leave) is present in one of the cliffs above the Vipava valley.
 Amazing to see one of the parents bringing a prey into the nest and feeding the chicks. Later also perched in full view on a nearby tree.
Fomitopsis pinicola
Menišija plateau, 22nd July 2016. 
Forest fungi growing on conifers.
Fomes fomentarius
Menišija plateau, 22nd July 2016. 
In Slovenia, a common fungi found on old and decaying beech trees Fagus sylvatica.
Fungus sp. 
Menišija plateau, 22nd July 2016.
Entrance to Grotta Azzurra/Pečina na Leskovcih, 
Trieste Karst, 15th July 2016.
Troglophilus neglecta
Grotta Azzurra/Pečina na Leskovcih, Trieste Karst, 15th July 2016. 
Common cave grasshopper. In Slovenia, also T. cavicola is present.
Natural entrance and stalactites at Torri di Slivia cave (Pejca v Lascu), 
Trieste Karst, 20th July 2016. 
A nice, small cave, close to Trieste, which in terms of cave phenomena and beauty 
is comparable to the more famous Postojna, Grotta Gigante, Škocjanske jame ect.
"Curtain" stalactites in Torri di Slivia cave (Pejca v Lascu), 
Trieste Karst, 20th July 2016.
Mighty stalagmites & stalactites at Torri di Slivia cave (Pejca v Lascu), 
Trieste Karst, 20th July 2016.


Recently I've been around various places in western Slovenia and also locally on the Karst, visiting some caves - excellent places where to escape during the summer heat! Hope to visit some more in the coming months and see some interesting cave animals. 
My main obsession at the moment is seeing this. Tried a few places in the past weeks, but unsuccessfully. Hope to catch up with one of these amazing and rare Natura 2000 beetles soon!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Cerambyx cerdo

Great capricorn beetle Cerambyx cerdo
Slovenian Karst, 16th July 2016. 
Male and female copulating - note male's longer antennae. 
Also visible are the copulating organs (4th pic).
Holes in a dead oak made by the capricorn beetle, 
Slovenian Karst, 16th July 2016.
Habitat of the capricorn beetle, 
Slovenian Karst, 16th July 2016.
Quercus petraea
Slovenian Karst, 16th July 2016.
Quercus cerris
Slovenian Karst, 16th July 2016.


A few days ago I went looking for this Natura 2000 beetle in some oak woods on the Slovenian Karst, near Sežana. Adult Great capricorn beetles Cerambyx cerdo emerge in June and July and live for a few weeks. Now is the perfect time to observe them, especially along woodland edges and on larger oak trees. Here is a short video of the two I observed. They are quite impressive beetles, measuring up to 6 centimeters (excluding the long antennae) and live mostly on different oak species. It is important that the trees are old and have some dead wood as well, where the beetles can excavate their characteristic oval holes (see pics above). In Slovenia this is a scarce species and has greatly declined on an international level, because of habitat loss (cutting of large oaks and oak forests). 

Monday, 11 July 2016

ALPINE IMMERSION - Triglav National Park

Rock Ptarmigan Lagopus muta (male), 
Mangart, 4th July 2016 
(lower pic by Sara Cernich).
Leontopodium alpinum
Breginjski Stol, 8th July 2016.
Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Dryas octopetala
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Nigritella rubra
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Nigritella rhellicani,  
Breginjski Stol, 8th July 2016.
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Trollius europaeus
Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
Marmot Marmota marmota
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Marmot Marmota marmota
Mojstrovka, 5th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Linaria alpina
Vršič pass, 5th July 2016.
Dianthus sternbergii
Vršič pass, 5th July 2016.
Ranunculus traunfellneri
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Eritrichum nanum
Mangart, 4th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Mt. Montaž/Montasio 
from the Mangart plateau, 4th July 2016.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
Trenta valley, 6th July 2016.
Cliff on the Mangart plateau, 4th July 2016.
Rhododendron hirsustum
Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
Mt. Jalovec and Tamar valley 
from the Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
Dryas octopetala
Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
Gentiana terglouensis
Mojstrovka, 5th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Primula halleri
Mangart, 4th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Linum julicum
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
Centenarian larches Larix decidua
Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
View from the Sleme plateau, 5th July 2016.
Mt. Prisojnik (above) and "Ajdovska deklica" - 
the famous face in the cliff (below), 5th July 2016.
Physoplexis comosa
Mangart, 4th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Rhodothamnus chamaecistus
Mojstrovka, 5th July 2016. 
Soldanella pusilla
Mangart, 4th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Soldanella minima
Mojstrovka, 5th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich). 
Lloydia serotina
Mojstrovka, 5th July 2016. 
Viola biflora
Mangart, 4th July 2016.
Saxifraga oppositifolia
Mangart, 4th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
River Soča, Trenta valley, 2nd July 2016.
Epipogium aphyllum
Trenta valley, 4th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Drosera rotundifolia
Pokljuka plateau, 3rd July 2016.
Corallorhiza trifida
Pokljuka plateau, 3rd July 2016.
Pinguicula vulgaris
Pokljuka plateau, 3rd July 2016.
Malaxis monophyllos
Trenta valley, 6th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Pyrola rotundifolia
Vršič pass, 5th July 2016.
Zadnja Trenta in the Trenta valley, 6th July 2016.
Aglais urticae
Breginjski Stol, 7th July 2016.
Nose-horned Viper Vipera ammodytes, 
 Breginjski Stol, 7th July 2016.
Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca
Breginjski Stol, 7th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Traunsteinera globosa
Breginjski Stol, 7th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
Breginjski Stol, 8th July 2016.
Stemmacantha rhapontica
Breginjski Stol, 8th July 2016.
Steep grassy slopes on Breginjski Stol
(with Lilium carniolicum and Laserpitium siler)
8th July 2016.
Lilium carniolicum
Breginjski Stol, 8th July 2016.
Pedicularis elongata ssp. julica
Breginjski Stol, 7th July 2016.
Steep grassy slope with Laserpitium siler
Breginjski Stol, 7th July 2016.
Soča river valley at dawn 
from Breginjski Stol, 8th July 2016.
River Soča, 
Trenta valley, 6th July 2016.
Dipper Cinclus cinclus by the river Soča, 
Trenta valley, 6th July 2016 
(Sara Cernich).
Cephalanthera rubra
Trenta valley, 2nd July 2016.
Julius Kugy's statue and mt Jalovec, 
Trenta valley, 6th July 2016.
Camp's official t-shirt (that I drew) 
with mt Jalovec on it (the real mountain in the back), 
Trenta valley, 6th July 2016.


I'm back from an intense week in the Julian Alps, where I carried out (co-organised) a biologist's summer camp in the Trenta valley (NW Slovenia). Above is a long selection of the very best wildlife we saw around the Triglav National Park and beyond. For me, the best observation of the week was certainly a male Ptarmigan Lagopus muta showing off on the Mangart plateau. There we also encountered a pair of Snowfinches Montifringilla nivalis and other typical alpine birds. The Trenta valley also surprised us with a pair of breeding Wallcreepers Tichodroma muraria, as well as a Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos and a great variety of orchids - the most interesting of all was certainly the rare Ghost Orchid Epipogium aphyllum.  Breginjski Stol, near Kobarid, proved once again to be an excellent site for Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca as we saw 4 different birds (flushed) and heard an additional 3 (7 in total!). Corncrakes Crex crex singing in the evening, Rock Thrushes Monticola saxatilis, reptiles and carpets of colorful flowers, all added up atmosphere to the beautiful alpine scenery.