Tuesday 23 February 2021

Flicks of crimson on the cliffs

This time just a short post to talk about some interesting inhabitants of limestone cliffs. Last week we made an afternoon visit to the the Karst edge, checking an excellent wintering site of the amazing Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria. This rare breeding bird is usually difficult to find in the Alps where it often breeds in inaccessible places, while it is much easier to observe in winter at lower elevations around the Karst. As you can see from the pics and video, we were very successful in finding not one, but three different individuals: two were together on the same cliff, while a third was seen a couple of hundred metres away on another limestone wall. The one in the video was particularly showy and we even managed to photograph it alongside a clump of Tommasini's Sandwort Moehringia tommasinii, a rare endemic plant along the Karst edge of Slovenia, NW Croatia and NE Italy. There are only 6 localities where the species grows - isn't that amazing? The plant wasn't in flower unfortunately, but this is how it usually looks in spring.
In the same cliff there was a noisy pair of Peregrines Falco peregrinus being in constant dispute with a pair of Ravens Corvus corax building their nest on a low cliff ledge. We even managed to identify one of the Peregrines as an individual we caught and satellite-tagged in spring 2020, as it still had the small device with antenna attached to its back (and still delivering data to our colleague's PC!). 
There's always something interesting to see on the Karst edge at this time of year, as spring here seems to arrive earlier than elsewhere. It won't be long until the first Alpine Swifts Apus melba & Blue Rock Thrushes Monticola solitarius return...