Saturday 19 October 2019

Autumn wildlife in the Karst

In the last ten days or so we've been regularly around, although mostly in our usual circuit in the Karst. We also had two guided trips at lake Cerknica (Cerkniško jezero) and although the weather was quite a disaster we still managed to see a couple of interesting species. The highlight was a daylight encounter with a Golden Jackal Canis aureus, crossing a main road near Gorenje Jezero in complete daylight. Observations of this recently-arrived species, which has spread naturally into Slovenia from south-eastern Europe, are increasing and its range is expanding fast. Jackals are now quite common in central and especially western Slovenia. We also regularly hear them howling not far from were we live in the Karst. Other interesting observations at lake Cerknica included a juvenile Rook Corvus frugilegus (a rather rare bird in this part of Slovenia), the first Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus of the season, Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Peregrine Falco peregrinus, Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, a late Swallow Hirundo rustica and good numbers of late-autumn migrant passerines (thrushes, finches, warblers ect).
Rook Corvus frugilegus, Cerkniško jezero.
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, Cerkniško jezero.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Cerkniško jezero.
Swallow Hirundo rustica, Cerkniško jezero.
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla, Cerkniško jezero.
Jay Garrulus glandarius, Cerkniško jezero.
Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum, Cerkniško jezero.
Slovenia's most traditional source of food.
Fir Coral Tooth Fungus Hericium alpestre, Javorniki mountains.

Wallcreepers Tichodroma muraria have probably arrived to most of their wintering sites as after our sighting at Trnovski gozd, we also observed an individual at a traditional site in the Karst. Meanwhile in the forest woodpeckers provide the greatest interest. During our short walks close to home we regularly see or hear Black Dryocopus martius, Grey-headed Picus canus, Middle Spotted Dendrocopos medius and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor, as well as the commoner Green Picus viridis and Great Spotted Dendrocopos major. Some days ago great excitement was also provided by a male Ural Owl Strix uralensis in a forest not far from Sežana, where in the past we regularly observed this species. At least one Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor is also back at its tradtional wintering ground in an extensive farmland area and we are happy to observe it on a regular basis.
Spot the Ural Owl Strix uralensis
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, Karst.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Karst.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor, Karst.
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, Karst.
Flaky Puffball Lycoperdon mammiforme, Karst.
A rare fungus found on calcareous soil.
Russula sp., Karst.
Panther Cap Amanita pantherina, Karst.
Field Mushroom Agaricus campestris, Karst.
Parasol Mushroom Macrolepiota procera, Karst.
Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa - before and after.