Thursday 14 February 2019

Lake Cerknica & surroundings

At the beginning of the week we payed a visit to lake Cerknica and its surroundings, after several months from our last trip there. The area seldom disappoints and winter is no exception. The lake, swelled by the recent rainfalls, was full of water and thus the waterbirds were thinly spread throughout the surface. We didn't see the hoped-for Smews Mergellus albellus (which regularly winter in small numbers on the lake), but the wildfowl assemblage was good nevertheless and included Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Pintail Anas acuta, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna as well as about 20 White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons. Due to snow-free roads in the Javorniki mountains, we were able to make a short incursion into the Dinaric forests and were rewarded by a Ural Owl Strix uralensis, which showed shortly, but rather well. Birds in the forest are quite vocal now and they don't seem to care about the cold and cloudy weather of Notranjska anymore. On the forest floor the first early-spring flowers were beginning to emerge, as well as an interesting fungus.

Goldeneye Bucephala clangula (male) - part of a flock of 25 displaying on the lake.

Ural Owl Strix uralensis in the forests by lake Cerknica.
Christmas Rose Helleborus niger - common in the forests around the lake, but not in full bloom yet; only a few specimen were already in flower.
Primrose Primula vulgaris - just about to bloom.
Elf Cup Sarcoscypha austriaca - an uncommon fungus, typically emerging just after the snow melts on the forest floor. It feeds on the rotting remains of broadleaved trees and likes damp habitats.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius - an unexpected find of 2 territorial birds, close to the lake. At the same site also 2 Grey-headed Woodpeckers Picus canus and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor.
A karstic spring at Rakov Ć kocjan, erupting water only during abundant rainfalls when the underground water reservoirs are filled. Sometimes Olms Proteus anguinus might get transported out from the caves by the strong currents, thus ending up on the surface.
Lurking on the shores of lake Cerknica on an uninviting winter's day.