Wednesday 10 May 2017

First days of May

Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Slovenian Karst, 2nd May 2017. A still quite common, but declining species in Slovenia. Its song is the quintessential sound of spring and no patch of forest should be without a Cuckoo!
Orchis pallens, Slovenian Karst, 2nd May 2017. A quite scarce orchid in Slovenia that is rarely encountered on the Karst. We were lucky to find this single specimen in a patch of woodland, not far from Divača. It favours light woods, woodland edges and overgrown meadows.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Trieste (NE Italy), 7th May 2017. The first have returned from Africa at the beginning of May. The species breeds on the Karst on grasslands with bushes and hedges, in vineyards and extensive farmland areas. Has declined steeply in recent years, especially on the Italian Karst, but it seems to be doing better in some areas in Slovenia.
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Trieste (NE Italy), 7th May 2017. We observed up to 6 birds together in an area of vineyards and bushes on the outskirts of Trieste, where the species is an increasingly rare breeder.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra, Trieste (NE Italy), 7th May 2017. Another species of open grassland areas and cultivated landscapes. Quite common breeder on the Slovenian Karst, but rare on the Italian side.
Woodlark Lullula arborea, Trieste Karst (NE Italy), 4th May 2017. One of the commonest birds of dry karstic grasslands, also found in areas overgrown with small trees and bushes that serve as essential singing posts. Its song can be heard as early as February - one of the really first signs of spring!
Ophrys holosericea, Trieste (NE Italy), 7th May 2017. One of the commonest Ophrys species in this area, favouring dry meadows and open woodlands.
Neotinea tridentata, Slovenian Karst, 7th May 2017. A common orchid on dry karstic grasslands in full bloom at the moment. Interestingly it is one of the most "Slovenian" orchids as it was first named by Scopoli in 1772 and already known by Valvazor in 1685 (two of the most important naturalists of the former Carniola).
Iris illyrica (I. pallida ssp. illyrica), Trieste Karst (NE Italy), 4th May 2017. Typical inhabitant of sunny and stony grassland areas, common on the Karst and mountain areas in western Slovenia.
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus, Cerkniško jezero, 8th May 2017. May is the best month of the year to observe this species, when good numbers stop on migration in Slovenia. The fields and meadows around lake Cerknica are the most important stop-over site in the country.
Dactylorhiza majalis, Cerkniško jezero, 8th May 2017. Note the dark-spotted leaves, which are unspotted in the very similar D. incarnata. The latter also flowers in the same habitat but a few weeks later.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Cerkniško jezero, 8th May 2017. A species suffering a steep decline in Europe and even in Slovenia, despite being a still quite common breeder in some areas like Cerknica lake and Ljubljansko barje.
Vicia oroboides, Cerkniško jezero, 8th May 2017. First found and described in Carniola in 1790 by F.X. Wulfen. It is a quite common find in mountain forests of central Slovenia, especially in the Dinaric region.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Cerkniško jezero, 8th May 2017. One of the very few arboreal Stork's nests in Slovenia can be seen in the village of Dolenje Jezero by the lake Cerknica. It's a relatively new nest (built last year) and is most probably firstly being used this spring. Cases of tree-nesting White Storks are rare even on a European level.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Isonzo/Soča rivermouth (NE Italy), 6th May 2017. A colourful bird to end the post. Bee-eaters have returned in great numbers on their breeding colony at Isola della Cona and can be easily observed and photographed from a special hide.