Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Birding & wildlife watching in Slovenia

Above is the new video we put together using our old & recent clips filmed in the field. It features mostly birds (woodpeckers, owls...) as well as some other Slovenian wildlife, including Bears. The sound is not very good quality, but it's all natural and it doesn't feature any playback recordings. We hope the video might be inspirational and perhaps encourage you to visit our beautiful country to explore its biodiversity. If you'd like to join one of our one-day wildlife watching trips, feel free to contact us at info@wild-slovenia.com.
For better quality, watch the video on our website or YouTube.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Hume's Leaf Warbler invasion

Hume's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus humei, Fiumicello (NE Italy).
Since December 2019 there have been several records of Hume's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus humei from Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy's northeastern-most region, bordering Slovenia. As in other parts of Europe, this small bird, originating in Central Asia is considered a rarity and a vagrant. The first one this winter was observed in December at Duino/Devin, 20 km NW of Trieste, while several followed later, all in the southern part of the region, not far from the Adriatic sea. The last individual was found yesterday and represented the 6th Hume's Leaf Warbler of the winter in this small part of Italy. Given that one was found by our friend Paolo Utmar in his garden along the lower course of the river Isonzo/Soča, today we payed a short visit to this particular bird. A very lively little creature, showing well and close, but never staying still and thus making photography very difficult. Above are the very few shots we managed. Fortunately Hume's call is very distinctive - most people say it's similar to a White Wagtail's, however to be more accurate, it sounded more Tawny Pipit-like to us. Yesterday our friends from Tringa FVG made some better photos of the same bird (here & here) and also found a new individual, about 1 km away from Paolo's garden! Moreover they also checked all the other sites where Hume's were reported and totalised 4 different individuals in one day (more pics & videos with calls here). Given the circumstances, is there a Hume's Leaf Warbler wintering in Slovenia too? We'd say probably so. It only needs to be found!

Monday, 3 February 2020

A taste of early spring

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, Karst.
Dipper Cinclus cinclus, Vipava valley.
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, Vipava valley.
Elf Cup Sarcoscypha austriaca/coccinea, Vipava valley.
Istrian Hellebore Helleborus multifidus ssp. istriacus, Karst.
Yellow-berried Mistletoe Loranthus europaeus, Karst.
A forest stream in the hills of the Vipava valley.

In the past two weeks the weather has been quite wet and foggy and not particularly cold. So far we are having a quite "weak" and untypical winter. We haven't been much in the field, only locally in the Karst and Vipava valley, checking some territories and doing explorations for the coming spring. Therefore nothing particularly exciting to report, although we still enjoyed some good species. As we took a few walks along our local watercourses like the river Reka (near Škocjanske jame) and the tributaries of the Vipava, we had multiple chances to observe Dippers Cinclus cinclus (yet again!). We were particularly happy to find a courting pair on a small forest stream in the Vipava valley, where we didn't quite expect to find the species. In another stream we observed several of the endemic Marbled Trouts Salmo marmoratus, including a really huge specimen (like this one we had some years ago). In the Karst we also had multiple encounters with Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, including two birds at new sites. Soon the Middle Spot fever will begin, as we'll be again surveying the species and looking for new territories in western Slovenia. Yesterday we also heard the first "singing" Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius announcing the start of the woodpecker breeding season! With colleagues from BirdLife Slovenia we also started to check the breeding territories of Eagle Owls Bubo bubo, but with scarce success, usually due to bad weather. However, almost every time we waited for dusk, we saw a Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, a common bird on migration in late autumn, but seldom seen due to its nocturnal habits. This winter Woodcocks seem commoner than usual, probably because of mild temperatures in the Karst (they usually move further south when sub-zero temperatures hit).
Due to mild temperatures (around 10 degrees C) yesterday we also observed the first Fire Salamanders Salamandra salamandra of the season in a wet forest by a stream.