Monday, 30 May 2011


I couldn't resist to the temptation of a Collared Pratincole, present at Isola delle Cona for a few days, so today early in the morning I went to look for it. After previous dips of this species (at the same place) this time I was quite optimistic, as the bird was seen yesterday and seemed quite "settled" and calm. I firstly searched for it from the first obs... but the bird wasn't there. As I approached the first screening on the path (towards the second hide) I noticed a nice flock of young Starlings flying around. So I thought "Oh nice! This is the good period for a Rosy...let's have a look"...and within few minutes, when the flock took off from the ground, a superb adult *ROSE-COLOURED STARLING* appeared among the Common Starlings!! I then saw the bird several times in flight (always within the flock), but later all the birds dispersed into smaller flocks. Later I re-spotted it, perched on the top of a far-away tree (see pics below). Despite the great distance I could appreciate the different shape (compared to a Common Starling) and the rosy colouring on the back - just visible in the photos below.
I then finally arrived in the main hide overlooking the other piece of freshwater marsh. And one of the first birds I saw there was indeed the COLLARED PRATINCOLE, perched on the ground by the water! It remained there for the whole time I was in the hide and gave great views. Usually seen running around like a plover and sometimes flying and hawking insects. On few occasions it landed on a scrape of earth just in front of the hide (see the first two pics above). Magnificent... two lifers in a day! I can't remember when was the last time I did that score!
Other birds in the area included: Great and Eurasian Reed Warbler, Bee-eaters at the colony, Black-winged Stilt with chicks, 1 Common Redshank, 30 Lapwings, 5 Spoonbills (3 ringed-from Italy), 1 Sacred Ibis, 2 Night Herons, 2-3 Melodious Warblers, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, Purple Heron, 1 Squacco Heron, 1 Whiskered Tern, 2 Garganeys, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 male Red-backed Shrike (in the freshwater marsh), 1 Little Stint and the 1st Curlew Sandpiper for me this year (with no trace of breeding plumage!). Also 2 Red Foxes of which one hunting a goose in the freshwater marsh.
With a bit of imagination you can see a Rose-coloured Starling in the pics below (note especially the rosy back):

Thursday, 26 May 2011

It's getting pretty hot!

Škocjanski zatok today revealed: 2 Night Herons (ad+imm), 1 male Little Bittern (in flight), 2 ad Squacco Herons, 1 Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt with chicks, 4 Little Ringed Plovers, 1 Lapwing, 1 Common Redshank in the lagoon, 33 Common Terns (with chicks), 1 ad Whiskered Tern over the freshwater marsh and lagoon, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Nightingale, 3-4 Reed Warblers, 10 singing Great Reed Warblers and 3-4 Melodious Warblers. Also 2 Dice Snakes.

Local patch - update from the past few days: 1 Cuckoo singing early in the morning on the 23rd (1st for the oatch this year), also a singing Serin took residence in the nearby gardens. White Wagtail juvs. already around, 7-8 migrating Swallows on the 23rd and 1 today (the firsts for the patch this year!). 1-2 Hawfinches almost on a daily basis - heard calling or perching on high trees. Juv./female Scops Owls calling at night, along with singing males.
Above: two Sandwich and a Common Tern (left)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Bee-eaters are back!

Today was very hot...up to 31 degrees C! This is quite exceptional for the season: I felt like being in July! Despite that..and the lack of any relevant species at Isola della Cona NR, I was delighted to watch the busy going ons at the local BEE-EATER colony. Two years ago an earth bank was created in the freshwater marsh for the Bee-eaters to nest. Last year only one pair chose it for nesting...but this year there are about 3 pairs! The fact is that this artificial bank is just few meters away from a screening, where you can watch the birds from a pretty close distance. So really gorgeous views! Above some pics of the birds.
The other highlight of the day were 2 Red Fox cubs playing out in the open on the wet grassland of the marsh. The adult (female I suppose) was also nearby and sometimes playied with them (Video1, video2).
If we get back to the birds: 1 male Red-backed Shrike (first of the year for me here in Italy), 1 Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, 3 Squacco Herons, 25-30 Lapwings, Black-winged Stilt, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Wood Sandpipers, 3-4 singing Melodious Warblers (see pic below), 1 male Garganey, several Cattle Egrets (quite common by now), 1 Sacred Ibis (still!), 2-3 Greenshanks, 3 Ruffs, Cuckoo, 1 Purple Heron, 2 imm. Night Herons, 1 Spoonbill, 3 Pochards (1m + 2 f), 12 Pygmy Cormorants in flock (seen flying around and landing).
Melodious Warbler:

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Honey Buzzard time

Short, late-afternoon visit to the Col area (TS) on the Karst produced: a very nice male HONEY BUZZARD soaring low overhead (pics above), 1 Hoopoe (flushed from the path in a wooded area), 1 Mistle Thrush (seen), 2-3 Hawfinches, 2 singing Robins (!), Chiffchaff, 1 singing Rock Bunting on prominent perch, 1 Cuckoo, 1 singing male BLUE ROCK THRUSH (heard) and the female bringing food to the nest.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Back to my "second patch"

Škocjanski zatok: this morning I was back at my usual weekly bird monitoring in the nature reserve, that held: 2 Shelducks, 1 male FERRUGINOUS DUCK in the freshwater marsh (quite late record), 4 Squacco Herons (1 imm), 1 Purple Heron, 1 HOBBY hawking dragonflies in the sky, Black-winged Stilt (already fledged chicks), 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Temminck's Stints along with 2 Little Stints, 1 Common Redshank in the lagoon, 37 Common Terns in the lagoon (including the newly born juveniles), 1 singing Turtle Dove, 1 Fan-tailed Warbler calling (year-tick!). The reedbeds were full of the songs of Great Reed and Eurasian Reed Warblers and the hedges held several singing Melodious Warblers too (5-6).
The freshwater marsh is also full of newly born juveniles of Coot (pic above), Moorhen, Mute Swan, Black-winged Stilts...
Of note also some nice Blue Emperors and 2 Dice Snakes.
Pics above (from top): Little Ringed Plover, Blue Emperor and Coot's chick

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Woodchat Shrike still there

A male Woodchat Shrike was still present this afternoon on "Campo Carri" near Banne, on the Karst. It's probably the same bird seen few weeks ago that stayed in the same area. This time it was a bit more approachable and gave better views (see pics above). Otherwise the migrant passage seems to be over, but in the area were also: 1 Tawny Pipit, 1 male Whinchat, 1 singing Rock Bunting, 2 Honey Buzzards (1 light and 1 dark morph), male and female Kestrel sitting on the wires, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 1 GOSHAWK flying SE with a prey in the talons, 1 Stonechat and 3-4 Spotted Flycatchers (the first of the year here at "my latitudes"). Also a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker heard from the car near Bazovica.
Last pic above: Dictamnus in full bloom

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hungary trip report!

The trip report from Hortobagy (Hungary) is available here

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Back from Hungary

I'm just back from a birding trip to Hungary (Hortobagy National Park area)...and I'll soon post a complete trip report. A Bluethroat pic above - from Hortobagy.

Meanwhile I report some by-the-way sightings (made from the car) from the previous week in Slovenia:
7th May 2011:
Near Postojna a migrating female Montagu's Harrier; out of Ljubljana 3 Red-footed Falcons and 2 soaring BLACK STORKS somewhere near Rogaška Slatina.

Yesterday evening a check to an Eagle Owl nesting site on the Karst revealed 3 fledged youngs and an adult female EAGLE OWL guarding the nest.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Pratincole dip...with year-ticks

Today I tried to catch sight of a Collared Pratincole, but dipped. The bird was seen at Isola della Cona nature reserve...and I was there about one hour later. Unfortuantely it disappeared (only on passage probably) so I missed it. This is probably the last "easy" (kind of) species I still lack...
Anyway I got some year ticks that included: 2 Temminck's Stints, +6 BLACK TERNS (fishing frenetically in the freshwater marsh), 1 SQUACCO HERON, 1 female LITTLE BITTERN (seen briefly in flight), +3 LITTLE TERNS (fishing at the river Isonzo's estuary actually). Other interesting birds in the area were: mixed flock (quite big) of Sand Martins and Swallows, Black-winged Stilts, 6 Common Redshanks, several Spotted Redshanks (breeding plumage), Wood Sands & Ruffs, 1 WHISKERED TERN (fishing with the other Black Terns), 1 Sacred Ibis (the usual one), Greenshank, 2-3 singing Great Reed Warblers, 10 Spoonbills (see pics)...and on the estuary several Common Terns, flocks of Dunlins, some Curlews, 2 Grey Plovers (in perfect breeding plumage), 3 Black Terns and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Later at Valle Cavanata another year-tick, that was perhaps also the highlight of the day: 2 AVOCETS feeding in the "lagoon" (see pic below). Also some usual waders including Common and Spotted Redshanks, plus a Purple Heron flying past.

Beech Martens and Goshawk

Yesterday night I got my first two BEECH MARTENS of the year, crossing a local road on the Karst. Also a Eastern European Hedgehog was seen (still alive!) by the roadside.

Just before the sunset a Goshawk was of note above the pine wood near Bazovica (TS).

Monday, 2 May 2011

Patch-tick and spring on the cliffs

Got some first of the year in the afternoon on the karstic ridge of Mount Grisa. To start well: a pair of HONEY BUZZARDS (a dark and a black morph bird together!) and later the first singing GOLDEN ORIOLE followed. As always a nice movement of Alpine and Common Swifts, sometimes flying very low (just a metre above my head!) and few Swallows + 1 House Martin. On the cliffs also the 2 singing Blue Rock Thrushes (one showing pretty well) and a singing Rock Bunting. In the nearby broadleaved woods Wood Warblers galore. At 18.12 pm a nice mixed flock of 12 Grey Herons and 4 PURPLE HERONS flew overhead, heading north-eastwards. Also a nice Dalmatian Algyroides was sunbathing on the rocks.
Above: Honey Buzzard (top), Blue Rock Thrush with Trieste in the background (2nd and 3rd), Alpine Swifts (all the others)
Below: Grey and Purple Herons (first and second) and Dalmatian Algyroides (bottom)

Local patch: earlier in the afternoon I spotted a HOBBY flying very high above the patch, mixed within a large flock of Common Swifts and House Martins and few Alpine Swifts. It's the first time I see the species in the area.
In the morning I was surprised to hear a calling Robin in the nearby woodland - quite unseasonal here!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Griffon Vulture over Divača

Surprisingly not much migratory movement (grounded migrants) at Divača's airfield (Ležeški Gabrk - SLO): 1 male Stonechat, 1 f Whinchat, singing Skylarks, 2 singing Melodious Warblers, +50 Alpine Swifts in flock, 1 Hobby, 2 Buzzards, 1 Kestrel, 1 Cirl Bunting, several singing Common Whitethroats (probably the commonest species), 1 Cuckoo (distant, perching on a bush) and the highlight of the day in the form of a Griffon Vulture gliding SE (quite high in the sky).

Later at Campo Carri not much movement either, with just 3 Whinchats, 1 male Stonechat, 2 male Northern Wheatears, 1 Tawny Pipit and 2 overflying Swallows. No signs of the other migrants (from previous days).