Monday 21 October 2019

Three-toed Woodpeckers in Trnovski gozd

On Sunday we were again in the forest of Trnovo (Trnovski gozd), walking on the Golaki mountains with some friends. The weather was (once again) rather depressing with heavy clouds, fog and wind. Not ideal for forest birding. And the view from the top of the highest peak in Trnovski gozd, Mali Golak (1495 m) was only down to a few meters! However the wind slowed down in the early afternoon, right at the time when we found ourselves walking in an area of spruce forest "infected" by bark beetles. The mixture between large vital trees, standing dead ones and those ill or dying was apparently irresitible to woodpeckers... and to us of course! The "pecking" on the dry trunks was audible all around. So we went to investigate the source of the nearest sound and soon we were watching a stunning male Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus. His female was nearby, feeding on the same group of trees and somehow cooperated a bit better than the male (video). However both birds were quite mobile in their feeding frenzy and they didn't allow us too close (unlike usually with this species). Confusingly, other woodpeckers were feeding in the same group of trees and making other pecking sounds: two Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, a male Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius and at least a Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. After about an hour of watching the Three-toeds, we checked the wider area and found several old nest-holes in some standing dead conifers. The area looked like a woodpecker paradise - we were clearly in our element! Later we realised that the foresters intentionally spared this area from logging (despite a massive presence of bark beetles), because it lies within a forest reserve, where logging is not allowed. Let's hope it will stay so also in the future! Because of intensive logging nowadays forest reserves seem to be the only suitable places to find Three-toed Woodpecker.

Female Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus
Old Three-toed Woodpecker's nesting hole (probably this year's).
Dying Norway Spruces Picea abies affected by bark beetles.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus

Apart from woodpeckers the forest of Trnovo was generally very quiet, maybe also because of the bad weather. We had the usual mountain forest species like Treecreeper Certhia familiaris, Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Willow Tit Poecile montanus and some migrant Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla. Most of the beech trees in the higher parts of the forest (above 1200 meters) were already leaf-less, whereas some autumn colours were still visible at around 1000 meters and lower down. On the forest floor there were still several species of fungi to enjoy, including some new to us.
Foggy forest.
Some autumn colours, but terrible light.
Tawny Grisette Amanita fulva
Yellowfoot Cantharellus (Craterellus) tubaeformis
Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa
Clouded Agaric Clitocybe nebularis
Stinking Russula Russula foetens
Tree Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria - an indicator of unpolluted air, common in Slovenian forests.