Wednesday 5 December 2012

Wallcreeper & Alpine Accentor

This afternoon I found two cliff specialities that are typical winter visitors along the karstic ridge, but never guaranteed. In the warm afternoon sunshine I decided to check the cliffs of mount Stena which overlooks the Glinščica valley (Val Rosandra), just minutes out of Trieste.
After the usual wait of about half an hour on my preferred clifftop, the first glimpse of crimson flashing on the distant rocks: a WALLCREEPER. At first it was quite far, but in a few minutes it flew closer and gave brilliant views for the rest of the afternoon (see above). A video here. While watching it, hopping up and down the rocks, I noticed another movement a few metres away from it. I was a small Dunnock-like bird that in my bins appeared magically as an ALPINE ACCENTOR. So I could watch both birds at close distance from one another, feeding in the same area of the cliffs. The accentor also ventured into some vegetation and looked for food among the grassy tufts growing out of the rocks. It was also quite vocal and a few times it seemed there were more birds calling, but it was quite difficult to judge the direction of the sound. When you hear a lone Alpine Accentor you always expect to see a whole flock of birds. Instead there's only one calling (a bit like the Jackdaw's call).
Alpine Accentor
Some distance away from the two birds there was also a female Black Redstart on the cliffs, along with a calling Rock Bunting. Otherwise the area was very quiet, as usual in winter. Just two Ravens passing by and a few tits and Goldcrests in the pines.

Earlier in the morning I had my weekly count at Škocjanski zatok, but there wasn't anything really of note. Maybe 2 Black-throated Divers in the lagoon and 4 migrant Lapwings were the highlight. The Great Grey Shrike by the road was also still present.