Saturday 14 December 2019

Snežnik - the snowy mountain

Snow has descended over most of Slovenia in the past days, so we decided to go and get our dose of it in the higher parts of the Dinaric mountains. Our main aim was to take a walk in the fresh snow with snowshoes, as we do a few times every winter. Today the weather was just perfect: a relatively warm, sunny and windless day, after a night of heavy snowfalls. The Snežnik plateau was our target and because we started relatively late, we rejected the idea of reaching the top of mount Snežnik - the "snowy mountain". Instead we took a nice walk in the forests around it.
Winter wonderland.
Castle in the forest at Mašun.
The mighty mount Snežnik. Slovenia's highest non-alpine peak (1796 m).
Boys and girls in the forest.

There was nothing really exciting on the wildlife front, just some common mountain birds like Willow Tit Poecile montanus, Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus, Raven Corvus corax ect. However in the fresh snow we found several tracks of mammals, including a short track of a single Wolf Canis lupus. Even more interestingly, nearby was also a very fresh wolf's scat. As we checked the wider area of the tracks we also came across the remains of a deer - either the wolf's prey or an old carcass that the wolf went to eat. At a forest glade we also spotted three Red Deer Cervus elaphus. Their tracks were everywhere in the snow.
Wolf's scat.
The remains of a wolf's meal.
Forest track where we found the wolf's signs.

Out of the forest, in the valley of the river Pivka and its temporary lakes there were more birds to enjoy. A Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor was hunting from a bush, while a mixed flock of Fieldfares Turdus pilaris and Mistle Thrushes Turdus viscivorus was feasting on rosehips. A single Redwing Turdus iliacus was also heard. Winter in the cold Notranjska region cannot get much more exciting than that!
Fieldfare Turdus pilaris
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Palško jezero - the temporary lake of Palčje.
Mt. Nanos (1262 m) in the distance.
Mt. Vremščica (1027 m) in the distance.
His Royal Highness: mount Triglav (2864 m) - Slovenia's highest peak.
A last look to Snežnik in the evening.

With snowy conditions some birds are more easily observed in gardens. A few days ago we had a small flock of 4 Rock Buntings Emberiza cia in our vegetable garden. This species is common in dry rocky slopes of the Karst, but in winter it frequently forms flocks that can be observed in other, more untypical places.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (male above, female below).
Jay Garrulus glandarius