Thursday, 31 March 2011

First WRYNECK of the year plus Common Terns and Willow Warblers

Škocjanski zatok: some new spring arrivals today were of note. The highlight being a singing WRYNECK by the Ara canal - on a high tree (pics above). I suppose it is quite an early least for my standards. The hedges along the path held several singing WILLOW WARBLERS, lots of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. In the brackish lagoon 5 COMMON TERNS represented another "first for the year". Other birds in the area included: 1 WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE (odd record - and blind on an eye!), 1 Ruddy Shelduck, 3 Wigeons, 7 Garganeys, 2 Pochards, 2 male Ferruginous Duck, at least 6 Black-winged Stilts, 7 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 GREY PLOVER in the lagoon, 18 Wood Sandpipers, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 21 Greenshanks, 4 Spotted Redshanks, several Snipes, 9 Ruffs, 2 singing Crested Larks, 3 Swallows (on passage), 1 Yellow Wagtail, usual Penduline Tits and Reed Buntings in the reedbed and 13 Jackdaws landing in the freshwater marsh.
Common Terns:

Ruddy Shelduck:

White-fronted Goose (see the blind eye):

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The return of the Peregrines

The local pair of Peregrines is now officially nesting in the Glinščica valley/Val Rosandra (TS) for the second time ever. This morning the adult male was perching on a rock and took off a few times, giving nice views (see pics above).
Also of interest in the area were 2 female MARSH HARRIERS on migration, cca 20 Ravens soaring together (!), Serins on passage, Woodlark, Linnet, singing Mistle Thrushes, a nice male BLUE ROCK THRUSH (perching on a rock-see pic), some Rock Buntings and a calling Black Woodpecker in the wooded area. A European Hare was flushed from the bushes in the dry grassland area.
Later in the karstic doline of Perčedol (near Col - TS): 3-5 Hawfinches, 1 Song Thrush, 1 calling LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER, 2 Green Woodpeckers and a singing Woodpigeon.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Today's birds from Avber on the Karst

Spent the day in the small village of Avber on the Slovenian Karst. Within a non-birding day, just staying out in the garden and working I could see/hear:
KESTREL: 1 flying past
Black Woodpecker: heard singing
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER: 1 singing in the orchards
White Wagtail
Black Redstart: singing male
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Cirl Bunting: 1 singing

In the evening a EUROPEAN TOAD was crossing the road near Dobravlje.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Spring highlights from Lisert

An interesting sunny afternoon spent in the Lisert wetland within the industrial area. The highlight were 3 SHORT-TOED EAGLES soaring far above Medja vas/Medeazza (TS). Another spring arrival and a first of the year! On the mudflats within the main reservoir a flock of 9 WHIMBRELS was also of interest. The flock took off after some minutes and headed straight NW, calling loudly. Other interesting species included: 2 Shelducks, 2 Gadwalls, Shoveler, +10 GARGANEY, 3 Pochards, 3 Ferruginous Ducks (2 m and 1 f - see above), Red-breasted Merganser, 1 SLAVONIAN GREBE on the sea (among some Bn Grebes), 6 Black-necked Grebes (all in breeding plumage), Great Egret, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Water Rail (seen), 6 BLACK-WINGED STILTS, 2 Lapwings, 2 Common Redshanks, 1 Ruff, 20 SWALLOWS in flock, 1 Moustached Warbler giving few "shy" notes of the song from the reedbed, lots of Penduline Tits on the reeds.
Plus quite large numbers of Grass Snakes (+20); a bit everywhere by the paths and sunny places. Also nice gatherings of 3-4 or more.
A piece of submarine was also of interest in the nearby industrial area ;-)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

MED GULLS, waders & Ferruginous Duck

Škocjanski zatok today held: 3 Snipes, +5 Yellow Wagtails (mainly Blue-headed + 1 Ashy-headed) , 1 JACKDAW, 3-4 Little Ringed Plovers, 8 Ruffs (one in whitish plumage), 3 Mediterranean Gulls (nice adults restimg with other gulls-see above), 2 Pochards, Water Pipit (moulting to breeding plumage), 1 Linnet, 4 Black-winged Stilts, 1 male Ferruginous Duck in the freshwater marsh (pic below), 1 Green Sandpiper, 6 GARGANEYS. In the brackish lagoon on the mudflats: 1 Spotted Redshanks, 1 Common Redshank, several Curlews, 6-7 Greenshanks and 16 Snipes.
Ruff and Garganeys:


Ferruginous Duck:


Local patch: this morning a compact flock of 100-150 GARGENEYS was on the sea, close to coast. The raft moved SE... Large part were males.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spring waders

In the afternoon, Isola della Cona held: 3 Black-winged Stilts, 1 WOOD SANDPIPER, 1 female Hen Harrier, +20 GARGANEYS, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, several Snipes, 1 Redshank, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Ravens, 6 Green Sandpipers, Lapwing, 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS (one in breeding plumage), 1 female Ferruginous Duck in the freshwater marsh, Pintail, 1-2 Penduline Tits, 4 Pochards, 5 Marsh Harriers (the local pair + other probably on migration), 1 SWALLOW, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 RUFFS. In the area also 4 Grass Snakes and lots of singing EUROPEAN TREE FROGS in the evening.
Above: the two Black-tailed Godwits

First Serin of the year

Local patch: this morning a Serin was singing from the top of a conifer tree in the patch. Some other birds were around, heard in flight. These days also some Nuthatches are intensively singing in the nearby woods... Today also the usual Cirl Bunting, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzards and 1 Chiffchaff.
Above: Serin pic from last year

Sunday, 20 March 2011

LITTLE CRAKES and Red-crested Pochards

Clamorous dip today as I tried to catch up with the Little Bunting reported few days ago at Valle Vecchia - Caorle (near Venice). Very few buntings indeed with only 2-3 Reed Buntings seen in the whole morning. Despite the absence of the rare bunting, I did manage to see some pretty nice birds. The highlights were 4 different LITTLE CRAKES in the reedbed area, seen very well (3 nice blue males and 1 female) and at least 14 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS in the freshwater lagoon (bot sexes). Other birds aroun included: 2-3 ringtail Hen Harriers, 5-6 Stonechats, some Lapwings, 1 singing Moustached Warbler (far in the reedbed), Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2-3 Song Thrushes (on migration), 1 singing Crested Lark, Cetti's Warbler, many Pochards, Gadwalls, +15 Garganeys, Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon, 2 Water Rails, 2-3 Marsh Harriers, a flock of Pintails (over the lagoon), 30 Meadow Pipits, 1 SWALLOW and several Black Redstarts. Also a GRASS SNAKE was present in the reedbed area (first of the year).
In the morning, over the motorway from Trieste to Latisana also 6 migrating MARSH HARRIERS (2 of them over mount Grmada) and 1 SWALLOW.
Pics above: Red-crested Pochards and Garganey

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Magnificent Eagle Owl

The highlight of today's "owling" on the Karst was the nice boy up here. An adult male EAGLE OWL was singing at the usual spot, on the rocky slope out of the town of Trieste. The light was still pretty good and the bird gave magnificent views. Usually singing from the top of a pine or a prominent rock. A video is visible HERE
Just before dusk a stop to the beech-wood near Bazovica/Basovizza (TS) produced the usual "poker" of woodpeckers (all showing pretty well): the pair of Black Woodpeckers, 1 male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 1 male Grey-headed Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker and several Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Local patch: in the morning 3 RAVENS circling above the pine wood, 2-3 Hawfinches perched on the oak-tree, singing Green Woodpecker, Blackcap and 1 Chiffchaff. Also of note was a male Brimstone.

Friday, 18 March 2011

"superciliaris" Yellow Wagtail and spring arrivals

Škocjanski zatok: another day of migratory movement. In the morning I managed to find the year's first BLACK-WINGED STILT for the reserve (and for me). The bird was feeding in the freshwater marsh, quite apart from the other waders. In the extensive reedbed a MOUSTACHED WARBLER was singing and even showed up for a while. One of the other highlights was an unfamiliar Yellow Wagtail subspecies...that was later identified as a "superciliaris" YELLOW WAGTAIL. The bird was a male with a black cap (feldegg-like), but with a prominent white supercillium and a kind of white submoustachial stripe (see pics above). Other Yellow Wagtail ssp. present in the area were: mainly flava, some cinereocapilla and 1 feldegg all in the same flock of 11-12.
Other birds present in the reserve included: 2 Black-necked Grebes in the lagoon, 15 Wigeons, 4 Pochards, 1 Water Rail, 7 Little Ringed Plovers (see pics), 16 Curlews, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshanks, 1 Spotted Redshank, 22 Greenshanks, 2 Green Sanpipers, 9 Snipes, 6 Common Gulls, 2 Kingfishers, at least 5 ALPINE SWIFTS, 2-3 Skylarks, 1 Crested Lark, 1 single SWALLOW (passing by), 2 HOUSE MARTINS (over the lagoon), 2 Meadow Pipits, lots of White Wagtails, 7 Stonechats, 4 Cetti's Warblers, 1 Jackdaw (flew overhead), singing Chiffchaffs everywhere (!), several Penduline Tits (also showing well - see pics), 1 singing Cirl Bunting and +20 Reed Buntings.
Also of interest were 2 DICE SNAKES and several Marsh Frogs.
Below: Black-winged Stilt (2x), Penduline Tit and Little Ringed Plover

In the early afternoon a stop by the fields near Srmin/Bonifika (KP) produced a ringtail HEN HARRIER (hunting) and a flock of 40-50 Skylarks.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Spring explosion!

Škocjanski zatok: a quick visit in the late afternoon resulted to be very productive. The freswater marsh was literally teeming with migrants... and of course many "first of the year" that included:
Little Ringed Plover - at least 3
YELLOW WAGTAIL - at least 15 (2 of the ssp. cinereocapilla, all the others flava)
GARGANEY - only 1 male
Plus quite numerous mixed flocks of hirundines, containing:
mainly Swallows and HOUSE MARTINS, but also +4 ALPINE SWIFTS and few COMMON SWIFTS.
Other interesting birds in the reserve: 3 Redshanks, 6 Pochards, lots of White Wagtails (about 20-30 mixed with the Yellows), 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Stonechats (1 m and 1f), 1 Penduline Tit, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Common Snipes, 6 Great Egrets.
Pic above: Cinereocapilla Yellow Wagtail


Local patch: at 11.19 this morning I was greeted by the first SWALLOW for the year, heading east. Later another one followed.
Today I also discovered that a pair of Starlings (the usual one probably) is nesting in the old horse-chestnut tree in front of the house. Apparently the chicks are already born - the parents are regularly exiting the nest with faeces in their beaks.
Other birds in the area include: 1 singing Coal Tit, flock of Greenfinches, 2 Cormorants flying on the sea, a distant Nuthatch singing and some sparse flocks of COMMON GULLS on the sea. By now the dawn chorus consists mainly of: Blackbirds, Robins (some still around), Great Tits, some Blackcaps and some Chaffinches. Also the nice-coloured male Black Redstart is always around the house.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

MOUSTACHED WARBLERS and reedbed delights

Had some cracking views on a MOUSTACHED WARBLER today at Lisert wetland. At least 3 different birds were present in the large reedbed (singing). I could actually see two of them, but one showed pretty well by the reedbed margin at less than 5 meters.
Other interesting species in the area included: the pair of breeding Marsh Harriers, 1 Water Rail (seen too), several feeding Penduline Tits (some pretty close), one or two Cetti's Warblers, 1 Redshank, 1 Snipe, 1 Kingfisher, 1 male Pochard (in the inner pond), 2 Greylag Geese, 4 Stonechats - flycatching (2 m and 2 f), 1 f HEN HARRIER hunting over the reedbed, 1 Black Woodpecker (heard), 1 Reed Bunting and 1 Sparrowhawk.
Below: one of the 2 male Stonechats

Local patch -today of interest: 3 Black-necked Grebes (in breeding plumage) on the sea, 10 probable Wigeons, 1 singing Black Redstart, 3 soaring Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk, Blackcap singing and a Raven flying over monte Grisa.
Butterflies: 1 Brimstone and 1 Large Tortoiseshell.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Kentish Plovers arrive at Škocjanski zatok

Škocjanski zatok: bird monitoring today revealed a decrease in waterbird numbers from the previous weeks. The highlight were 2 KENTISH PLOVERS in the brackish lagoon. When I finished counting in the reserve I checked the lagoon from the other end and found 2 other Kentish Plovers... possibly the same two individuals, but I'm not really sure. Due to the very low tide in the lagoon the mudflats were completely exposed... and thriving with life!
Here are the interesting species/numbers recorded in the reserve: 21 Wigeons, 10 Pintails, 16 Shovelers, 181 Teals, 6 Pochards, 4 Tufted Ducks, 504 Coots, 19 Lapwings, 2 Ruffs (still present in the freshwater marsh), 3 Curlew, 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Spotted Redshank, 14 Greenshanks, 38 Snipes (on the mudflats), 532 Black-headed Gulls, 8 Common Gulls, 12 Water Pipits, 5 Cetti's Warblers (one showing very well), 1 Penduline Tit (heard), 14 JACKDAWS (flew over the marsh), +9 Reed Buntings.
Above: a documenting pic of the Kentish Plover;
Below: one of the two Ruffs

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A first for the patch - SHOVELER plus ducks & Common Gulls gathering

Local patch: just before the sunset I went to check the ducks on the sea from the little harbour of Barcola. Nice migratory movement, including a first species for the patch - the Shoveler. Of interest on the sea: 17 male SHOVELERS in flock (staying quite separately from the main duck flock), +20 Great Crested Grebes, 317 COMMON GULLS in a long mixed flock with BH Gulls, "raft" of 133 Wigeons (frequently flying around), 8 Black-necked Grebes, 2-3 Cormorants and 1 Kingfisher seen in flight around the dock.
Above: two old pics - Common Gulls and Black-necked Grebe.

Goshawk patrol

Morning birding on the Karst produced: the year's first Yellowhammer (a singing male), a Sparrowhawk, 1 singing and drumming Black Woodpecker, singing Coal Tits all over the woods, 2 Rock Buntings, 1 Raven and a big, bulky female Goshawk on patroll - soaring above the mount Kokoš near Pesek.

Meanwhile yesterday evening at Škocjanski zatok (KP) 2 Ruffs were present in the freshwater marsh...but only a few Great Egrets came to the roost (3-5). Starling flock dropping into the reedbed at dusk counted about 250 birds.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Early spring vis migging and first Ruff

Škocjanski zatok: in the afternoon the WHITE STORK was still present in the freshwater marsh with all the herons - 44 Great Egrets and +30 Grey Herons. In the "E" freshwater marsh also: 1 f Goldeneye, several Wigeons, 1 RUFF (landed among the gulls) and 1 SHELDUCK (not very common here).
On the motorway near Koper a Crested Lark crossed the road in front of my car!

Local patch: morning with Coal Tit, singing Greenfinch and Blackcap... Late afternoon vis migging (kind of) from my terrace held: a total of 28 GREY HERONS, 11 Great Crested Grebes on the sea, 2 Cormorant and some large flocks of ducks far on the sea, that I couldn't identify. Most probably Wigeon/Garganey?/Teal.
Also the local Buzzard flew low over the patch at dusk.

Sunday, 6 March 2011


A nice adult PEREGRINE was perched this afternoon on the cliffs of the Glinščica valley/Val Rosandra (TS). Appraretly this was a male (see above).
On the nearby woodland edge a quite big adult Wild Boar was trotting around at dusk.

Local patch - heard singing this morning: Green Woodpecker from the nearby woodland, 1 Cirl Bunting, a Coal Tit (quite far away) and one or two Greenfinches. Also a Blackcap was calling in the gardens.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Spring butterflies

This morning on the Kraški rob in Slovenia, quite a nice abundance of butterflies. The commonest species being Red Admiral and Brimstone with a single sunbathing PEACOCK BUTTERFLY too.
Bird activity was very poor: Sparrowhawk, Woodlark, Rock Bunting...singing Coal Tit.
Above two old pics of Brimstone and Red Admiral

Friday, 4 March 2011

White Stork at Škocjanski zatok

Škocjanski zatok: the highlight today was an adult White Stork seen flying above the reserve at midday and then landing in the freshwater marsh. This could possibly be the same individual from Fossalon (GO). Other birds in the area included: 8 Pintails, many Shovelers, Wigeons and Teals, +14 Pochard, 6-7 Tufted Duck, 1 f Goldeneye, 1 Water Rail, 1 GREY PLOVER in the lagoon, +20 Lapwings, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 2 ad Common Gulls (almost in complete breeding plumage), 2 Kingfishers at "Jezerce", 2 Skylarks, 1 Crested Lark, 1 f Stonechat and 3 Reed Buntings. Somewhere near Plavje (KP) also a Large Tortoiseshell "sunbathing"on the ground.