What a tour! The 5 days spent at the end of April in the Notranjska region have been some of the most wildlife-packed of all times! The aim of the tour was to see the typical bird & mammal species inhabiting the Dinaric forests, wetlands and meadows of the Cerknica lake, Snežnik, Javorniki and Loški Potok. We were glad to accompany a small group of excellent Italian birders and trying hard to show them all the special wildlife of this truly unspoilt areas. We succeeded pretty well with all of our targets and even had a few extra surprises. Below are the highlights, while a full trip report (in Italian, with bird check-list also in English) can be found here.
Wolf Canis lupus (pics by Alberto Nevola). Certainly the rarest encounter of all! This individual crossed the forest road, some 50 meters in front of our car, not far from the western shores of lake Cerknica. It then slowly moved away from us, but still allowing us to take a few photos, before vanishing forever into the forest. Such encounters are very rare in Slovenia, as very few people have ever seen a wild Wolf by day!
Brown Bear Ursus arctos - the above young male was spotted close to a forest road in the Javorniki mountains (and showed really well), while two days later, we surprised another 2 Bears (mum & cub) on a road on the northern slopes of mount Snežnik. A total of 3 bears in 5 days... not something that happens frequently to us!
Wildcat Felis silvestris - same individual observed on two consecutive days, hunting on a forest glade near Loški Potok (both times observed from the car, along a main road!).
Ural Owl Strix uralensis - showing well, close to the forest road in the Javorniki mountains. The group had superb views, also through the scope (first pic above is "phone-scoped"). Another Ural Owl was heard singing in the forests of Loški Potok.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus - female observed "ringing" a silver fir Abies alba in the Javorniki mountains, while 2 days later, a male was found in the forests of Snežnik. Both birds showed very well.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos - a drumming male in the Snežnik forests, close to where a potential occupied nest-hole was found.
Watching the White-backed Woodpecker, as well as a singing male Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis - a probable breeder in the area (rare in the Dinaric mountains).
Black Stork Ciconia nigra - soaring above the forest on Javorniki. This species was observed on an almost daily basis on the wet meadows of the Cerknica lake.
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria - a pair holding territory in the scrubby meadows near Pivka.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio - good numbers returned to their breeding sites in Notranjska during the week.
Meadows and scrubland in the Pivka area - habitat of the Barred Warbler & Red-backed Shrike.
Mahaleb Cherry Prunus mahaleb is in full bloom.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia - one of the 3 nesting pairs in the villages around lake Cerknica.
Tau Emperor Aglia tau - a very common sight along forest roads at daylight, but very rarely seen at rest.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus - a showy male observed in an oak woodland in the Karst (one of the several we had on a daily basis around the forests).
Red Deer Cervus elaphus - 3 young males running around a meadow in the middle of the day (Karst).
Wild Peony Paeonia officinalis - in full bloom in light Karstic woodlands and forest edges.
Stemless Gentian Gentiana clusii - a common sight along Spring Gentians Gentiana verna ssp. tergestina on the dry meadows on the south-western slopes of mount Snežnik.
Spring colours of the Dinaric forests, on the south-western slopes of Snežnik.
The north-eastern side of mount Snežnik (1796 m), still partly covered by snow.
The Stržen stream running through the Cerknica lake and the Javorniki hills in the back.
Wet meadows by the Cerknica lake and the forests of mount Snežnik (the top is just visible in the far distance).
Broad-leaved Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza majalis - just beginning to flower on the wet meadows of the Cerknica lake.
Summer Snowflake Leucojum aestivum - in bloom on wet meadows by the Cerknica lake.
Bird Cherry Prunus padus - very common at the edges of wet woodlands and streams by the Cerknica lake.
At the end, we rounded up with a check-list of 120 species. Some of the other noteworthy species we didn't mention above were: Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena, Hoopoe Upupa epops, Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus, Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus, White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus, Merlin Falco columbarius, Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus, Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides, Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Cattle Egret Bubulcus Ibis, Goshawk Accipiter gentilis, Osprey Pandion haliaetus and Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus.
For more about the wildlife of the Dinaric mountains, check the page on our main site: