Saturday, 30 April 2011

ROCK THRUSH in addition!

More or less the same situation as yesterday, this morning at Campo Carri, but with the addition of a female ROCK THRUSH. Not so colorful as a male, but a nice record anyway. Usually seen perched on low pine trees and higher bushes. No signs of the male BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR, but a female was still present within the group of Northern Wheatears (7-8) and about 10 Whinchats. This time I got reasonable views of it and got some better pics (see below). Also the male WOODCHAT SHRIKE was still present in the area, always sticking quite far away, on the top of trees and bushes. Earlier this morning also a female was seen in the area by some other birders. Otherwise more or less the same as yesterday: 3-4 TAWNY PIPITS, 3 singing Wood Warblers, 1 Cuckoo, 2-3 Nightingales, 1-2 Common Whitethroats, 1 singing Rock Bunting, 3 Swallows flew overhead, some Common Swifts, 2 perching Tree Pipits and a singing HOOPOE heard. Mistle Thrushes singing a bit everywhere in the woods; one seen on the top of a distant horse-chestnut.
The female Black-eared Wheatear:

And here's a little composition of the Black-eared Wheatear images, I put together:

Friday, 29 April 2011


With a very uncertain weather situation I was quite convinced that something rare was still around today. In the afternoon, as soon as I finished the bird census (see the other post below), I headed straight to "Campo Carri", the grassland area near Banne (TS). Exactly one year ago the same day (29 April), I was sitting in the middle of the grassland watching my first ever Woodchat Shrike (see old post here). So that was the target for today! But when I started to scan the open area, something even more unusual showed up. On one of the low pine-trees, along with a female Northern Wheatear, a female *BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR* was perching...and just few meters away, on another tree: a stunning black-throated male!! A great find! Both male and female were quite busy fly-catching, together with other 2 Northern Wheatears (a nice male and a female). Often changing perches and the male being quite territorial towards the male Northern Wheatear and nearby Whinchats. The Black-throated Wheatear is quite rare on the Karst and it's not a regular breeder. Its usual breeding grounds are far souther (in Croatia) and has bred here only a few times. See the photos above: the last two show the female.
Just when I finished watching it and lost the male, I started to scan the other low trees...and on one of them, there it was: a male *WOODCHAT SHRIKE*! Often quite shy and wary, flying away at great distance. But with the telescope I got resonable views. It perched on several different bushes, including some higher oaks. See these pics:

Click here for last year's male
Other interesting birds (mainly migrants) in the area were: 2 Nightingales, several singing Woodlarks, Mistle Thrush, 100 Common Swifts & some Alpine Swifts, 2 Northern Wheatears, 3 TAWNY PIPITS (quite territorial to each other) - firts of the year, male and female Stonechat, 1-2 singing Common Whitethroats, 1 Cuckoo, +10 Whinchats (mainly males), 1 singing Wood Warbler from the nearby wood, 1 Coal Tit and 2 Tree Pipits perched on a bush.
Male Northern Wheatear:

Tawny Pipit:

WHITE-WINGED TERN has arrived!

Škocjanski zatok - highlights from today's bird monitoring: 1 Purple Heron, 2 Shovelers, 3 male Garganeys, 15 Black-winged Stilts, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 LITTLE STINT, 22 Ruffs, 24 Common Sandpipers (!), 1 Redshank, 1 breeding pl. Spotted Redshank, 35 Greenshanks, 64 Wood Sandpipers, 31 Common Terns, 1 ad WHITE-WINGED TERN (arrived in flight from west and stopped in the freshwater marsh), 3 Alpine Swifts (within a large flock of Common Swifts), 1 Crested Lark, 5-6 Sand Martins, 4 Tree Pipits (on migration), 6 Yellow Wagtails 4 Nightingales, at least 10 Whinchats in the grassland area (flycatching), 10 Great Reed Warblers (in total) singing all over the reedbeds and 11 Sedge Warblers doing the same, 2 Reed Warblers (1 seen), 1 singing MELODIOUS WARBLER on the top of a tree in the bushy area by the car park (first of the year!), 1 Linnet.
Above: Great Reed Warbler (top) and Whinchat

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Montagu's Harrier movement and first Whinchats

Amazing bird movement today on the Slovene Karst with the highlight being two female MONTAGU'S HARRIERS on migration. One was seen in a grassland habitat at Dane (Sežana), the other flying near Opčine/Opicina (TS). Both quite wind-swept by the stiff north-easterly. In the extensive grassland area of Dane also: several singing Skylarks and Woodlarks, 1 male Stonechat, Mistle Thrush, 2 Ravens, 1 Yellowhammer and about 10 WHINCHATS (both sexes, but mostly males) representing another first of the year.
Some nice orchids too: the first one being a Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio) and Three-thooted Orchid (Neotinea tridentata) the second one:

Monday, 25 April 2011

"Canopy migrants" & Whip Snake

Quite hot afternoon revealed to be pretty interesting in the broadleaved woodland of the Grisa area (Kontovel). The cliffs above the Napoleonica road were quite poor in itself, although held 2 singing BLUE ROCK THRUSHES (1 seen well) and several Alpine Swifts, mixed with occasional Common Swifts and some Swallows. The highlights being 2 singing WOOD WARBLERS, high in the oak-tree canopy (1 seen) and 1 male PIED FLYCATCHER (frequently fly-catching). These two being first of the year. Other birds included 2 Nightingales, 1 Raven, Blackcaps and Crested Tit. Another unusual encounter was along the wood path with a WESTERN WHIP SNAKE (Coluber viridiflavus). The phothos below tell everything. It started to hiss when flushed and it then climbed on a nearby bush (low tree). Staying there and showing pretty well for about 15 minutes. Also a Dalmatian Algyroides was present on the path to the cliffs and 2 Wood Whites (last pic below).
Another WOOD WARBLER was then heard in Barcola, above the Strada del Friuli road.
Below a set of the Whip Snake:

Wood White:

Friday, 22 April 2011

Spring on the heathland

Afternoon stroll on the heathlands of mount Stena and m. Kokoš (Pesek) produced: 2 Nightingales, 3 Ravens, 3 singing COMMON WHITETHROATS (apparently already on their territories-first pic above), 2 Buzzards, Swallow, 1 PEREGRINE flying NW, 1 superb Blue Rock Thrush singing on the top of the cliffs, 1 singing Rock Bunting, 2 Yellowhammers, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Woodlarks. Butterflies included: Orange Tip, Scarce Swallowtail, 3-4 Painted Ladies and 3-4 Speckled Yellow Moths (Pseudopanthera macularia) last pic above, plus several other unidentified moths. Of the blossoming flowers some Pulsatilla montana (second and third pic) and Orchis morio (4th pic above) were of note.

Local patch: Common Swifts, 1 Nuthatch and I found a SLOW-WORM this morning.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Today's update

Škocjanski zatok: quite miserable bird monitoring today due to the lack of relevant species...and also numerically poor. Some kind of higher note were: 8 Garganeys, 1 female MARSH HARRIER (on passage over the freshwater marsh), 27 Black-winged Stilts, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 winter pl. Grey Plover (probably the long-staying bird), 54 Ruffs, 1 Spotted Redshank (breeding plumage), 11 Greenshanks, 73 Wood Sandpipers, 3 Snipes, 32 Common Terns (courtship, display, lot of noise...), 15 Common Swifts, 6 Barn Swallows, few House Martins, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 singing Nightingales, 3 singing Great Reed Warblers, 5 Blackcaps and several Serins. Also an Emperor Dragonfly was seen.

Local patch: to my immense delight, this morning I heard this year's first NIGHTINGALE for the patch. I thought it will hardly come again to his usual spot, after large part of the greenery in the neighbourhood was cut down.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

First Reed Warbler of the year

By-the-way sightings from Isola della Cona included the usual spring stuff, but some were of note: 2 Purple Herons, 2 Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilt, 1 Marsh Harrier, several Spotted Redshanks in breeding plumage, Greenshank, cca. 10 Black-tailed Godwits, tons of Ruff and Wood Sand, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Nightingale, 1 Sedge Warbler (heard) and the first REED WARBLER of the year. Also a Red Fox showed up in the freshwater marsh. The odd Sacred Ibis and 2 dodgy Ruddy Shelducks still present.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Kestrel over the patch

Local patch: at 14.35 a female KESTREL was soaring above the patch and represented the highlight. Other today's sightings included flocks of Common Swifts overhead, usual flock of Alpine Swifts above the karstic ridge (Monte Grisa), 2 Common Buzzards, 2 Ravens (mobbing the Buzzard), 1 female Sparrowhawk and a quite far singing Short-toed Treecreeper.
Above: a Kestrel photo taken some years ago

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Back to the interior: spring on Cerkniško jezero

Despite the cold north-easterly wind, an interesting morning on the Cerknica lake (SLO) and the surrounding area: a couple of Fieldfares, Yellow Wagtail, 1 WHISKERED TERN ("fishing" on the lake - first of the year), Great Egret, mixed flocks of Ruffs and Wood Sanpipers, Swallow, House Martin, Common Swift, 2 SHORT-TOED EAGLES (hovering and "hanging" above the grasslands), 1 Lapwing, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in the bushes, several Skylarks singing in the fields, along with some Yellowhammers; 1 male Marsh Harrier, the local pair of White Storks (on the nest). Mixed duck flock including: Pochards, 2 Wigeons, 2 male Ferruginous Duck, several Garganeys, Shoveler, Teal. Then: Raven, 2 Bullfinches, Song Thrush, 1 HOBBY (first of the year - 3rd and 4th pic above), 1 singing Tree Pipit, some Kestrels, 1 superb male MONTAGU'S HARRIER (hunting on the grasslands near Žerovnica - first two pics above), Hawfinch, Marsh Tit, 1 TURTLE DOVE (near Dolenje Jezero - year's first), Linnet, 1 f Stonechat.
At Rakov Škocjan little of interest apart from the local pair of breeding Ravens (chicks in the nest - see pic below).

Also the local Eurasian Crag Martins were present in their nesting area out of Postojna (pic below).

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Butterflies at Isola della Cona NR

Isola della Cona NR was quite unproductive this afternoon. The highlights probably being 1 Glossy Ibis, 2 Spoonbills, 2 MARSH SANDPIPERS and a singing Sedge Warbler. Also a terrible mix of dodgy birds including: 1 Ruddy Shelduck, 1 Sacred Ibis and 1 Egyptian Goose. Plus other usual birds like Sand Martins, Wood Sandpipers, Ruffs, Black-winged Stilts ect.
Some butterflies proved to be more interesting than birds. Along the path several Wall Browns and Scarce Swallowtails (first pic above) were present, with one GREEN HAIRSTREAK (second above) and 2 SOUTHERN FESTOONS.

Friday, 15 April 2011

First Cuckoo and Southern Festoon

Mid-morning, by the way sightings from the Karst: a CUCKOO (fisrt of the year!) and a Hoopoe singing near Zagradec, with about 2-3 Hawfinches, Cirl Bunting, Serin and several Barn Swallows. Nice variety of butterflies at the woodland edge, including 2 SOUTHERN FESTOON (see pic), Brimstone, Wood White, Green Hairstreak, Scarce Swallowtail and Grizzled Skipper.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

First reedbed warblers

Škocjanski zatok: two new species for the year-list today in the form of SEDGE WARBLER (3 singing; one seen) and GREAT REED WARBLER (1 singing in the reeds of the freshwater marsh). Of interest also: 5 Shovelers, 9 Garganey, 1 male Pochard, 1 female Goldeneye in the lagoon (!), 16 Black-winged Stilts, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, 32 Ruff, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 2 Spotted Redshanks, 13 Greenshanks, 34 Wood Sandpipers, 1 Green Sandpiper, 23 Common Terns (already settled - pairs + courtship behaviour), large flock of Common Swifts, 1 singing Crested Lark, 10 Sand Martins (also perched in the reedbed with Swallows), +30 Swallows, 10 House Martins, 28 Yellow Wagtails (surprisingly many females too; mainly Blue-headed and 1-2 Black-headed), 1 singing NIGHTINGALE, 4 Cetti's Warblers, 2 LESSER WHITETHROATS in the hedges along the path (also singing), 5 Blackcaps, 2 Serins.

Monday, 11 April 2011

"Whaups" over the patch!

Local patch: in the afternoon at 17.55 I could spot a large flock of cca. 100 EURASIAN CURLEWS on migration over the patch. The birds were quite high in the sky, but I spotted them only due to their loud calls. In a kind of irregular "v" formation flock, they arrived from W and above the patch started to head northwards, disappearing over the karstic ridge. This is the second record for the species in the patch!
Also today a Scops Owl was singing, still in complete daylight (18.50)! Probably the female is already on the nest.

First migrant Sylvia warblers

Nice and warm sunny morning spent at "Campo Carri" of Bani/Banne (TS) with some new spring arrivals. Blackcaps were perhaps the most numeros (both males anf females). In a flowering bush the highlight was a cracking male SUBALPINE WARBLER (frequently singing some notes) along with a female COMMON WHITETHROAT (on the same bush). On the another hedge an adult LESSER WHITETHROAT was also showing well and occasionally giving its song. In the bushy area also the first singing NIGHTINGALE of the year was of note. While scoping quite far over the horizon, I could spot a PEREGRINE soaring above Col (TS). Other birds in the area included: 1 Serin, 1 singing Black Redstart, Marsh Tit, a pair of Hawfinches, Chiffchaff, Common Swifts in flock, several singing Woodlarks, 1 Wren, 2-3 singing Mistle Thrushes, 6 Buzzards. Nice variety of butterflies including: several ORANGE TIPS (both sexes), Scarce Swallowtail, Brimstone and 1 Nettle-tree Butterfly.
Pics above: Subalpine Warbler (first), Narcissus poeticus (second) and Orchis morio (third).