Friday 14 April 2017

An exciting return

The Karst is bursting with lush green leaves as the woodlands are coming back to life after long months of winter sleep. In the first photo a detail from a sessile oak Quercus petraea, a common tree species forming broadleaved woods all over Slovenia. The other two pics show a lime Tilia cordata/platyphyllos in all its spring glory.
Narcissus poeticus ssp. radiiflorus in full bloom on Karst's meadows. An increasingly scarce plant due to the loss of open meadows and pastures maintained by grazing animals. However in some areas it is still possible to see such white "carpets" like the above.
Fritillaria orientalis is a scarce and endangered species of dry limestone grassland, in bloom on the Karst at this time of year. Its even rarer wet-loving counterpart F. meleagris is found in central and eastern Slovenia.
Globularia punctata - the colour of the sky.
Pulsatilla montana is a characteristic spring flower which inhabits dry grasslands on limestone; the similar Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasqueflower) in Slovenia is much rarer and restricted to just a few sites. The above is commonly found, but has a quite early blooming period; most of them are now already going into seed.
Paeonia officinalis at the beginning of its blooming season. This impressive plant has the biggest flower of any Slovenian species and is found in open, sunny woodlands, forest glades and wooded pastures. The real spectacle has yet to come...
Orchis morio is the commonest orchid species on the Karst, favouring unfertilised, mowed or grazed grassland. It can be seen in different colour variations, from whitish and pink to deep blue and purple.
A cherry tree Prunus avium in a vineyard on the Karst...
...where Wrynecks Jynx torquilla like to sing and nest.
Karstic rural landscape; home for Hoopoe Upupa epops, Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Corn Emberiza calandra & Cirl Bunting E. cirlus and Woodlark Lullula arborea.
The different shades of green that make wooded landscapes in spring so beautiful.
Moehringia muscosa - tough little plant, frequently growing out from the bare limestone.
Our first Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus of the year, gliding above one of its favoured grassland areas, where it hunts small reptiles and snakes.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia - a common bird of stony grassland, cliffs and rocky slopes.
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis soaring over a pine plantation. On the Karst, the species tends to use old pines for nesting and is thus associated with plantations of black pine Pinus nigra, planted by the Austrians in the 19th century.
After watching this Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor for a while, we discovered its nest in a rotten tree, some 3 meters above the ground.
A jumping Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius greeting us, after two months without seeing each other.

After coming back from Romania, everything looks gorgeous here at home as spring is really in full swing. Warm sunny days, clear blue skies, lush green woodlands, birds singing everywhere and carpets of wildflowers! This is without any doubt the most exciting time of the year.
In the past days we only managed to take a few strolls around home, but it was enough to see all the above. Apart from that and the first Cuckoos Cuculus canorus, Nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos, Swifts Apus apus ect. we also saw a Red Kite Milvus milvus yesterday over Lipica (local rarity) and a Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus on the 11th over Se┼żana.