Wednesday 9 January 2013


Today I spent an exciting day in the far north-east of Slovenia. I visited the lake of Ptuj (Ptuj reservoir) to see a couple of rarities reported there since last week. As I arrived to the south-eastern part of the lake, at the dam close to Markovci, literally the first bird in my scope was the LONG-TAILED DUCK. This bird, which was a female, was the main target of the trip. I was really relieved to find it so quickly. It was swimming with a group of 9 Velvet Scoters, which showed all very well (see above), quite close to the reservoir's concrete bank. After about 15 minutes I was watching it, the whole group (including the Long-tailed Duck) took off and headed to the central part of the lake (last two pics above). Later in the day I couldn't find them again.
From the dam at Markovci I then checked the rest of the wildfowl which included some very interesting birds. The first which caught my attention were 4 drake SMEWS. The commonest duck was Mallard, with probably more than a thousand birds on the lake. Both Tufted Ducks and Pochards were also abundant, along with the funny-displaying Goldeneyes, which formed good groups as well. A few Pintails, Gadwalls and some more Wigeons were also around. Other interesting sawbills included about 23 GOOSANDERS (both sexes) in a big raft in the middle of the lake. I didn't find any of the reported rarest grebes (Red-necked and Slavonian), but a Red-throated Diver was quite good as well. A few Pygmy Cormorants were also present, along with at least 20 Common Gulls and flocks of Rooks in the surrounding farmland.

Female Velvet Scoter
Mixed wildfowl on the lake, including a raft of Goosanders in the background

Next stop were the open fields close to the lake where I went looking for the two reported rare swan species.
Not long after I discovered a small muddy road going through the fields (sewage works area), I spotted some white dots in the distance. I approached a few hundred metres and soon I had in the scope 4 yellow-billed swans among some 15 Mute Swans.
Two were adult WHOOPER SWANS and some metres away from them were feeding also 2 BEWICK'S SWANS (adult and juvenile). Comparison here was possible due to the presence of both species; a bit like at Welney WWT in Britain! I never imagined I would see both species together in Slovenia. I know Bewick's is the second record for the country and probably there are no more than 10 records for Whooper in Slovenia, so both true rarities!

 Two adult Whoopers

Adult Bewick's

 Juvenile Bewick's

In the afternoon I went to check the Medvedce reservoir - a must-stop on the way home. Also here Mallards were the most numerous and among them I managed to pull out a 6 GOOSANDERS, some Wigeons and Teals. A Great Grey Shrike was as usual present in the surroundings and about 24 White-fronted Geese were grazing on the nearby fields. A nice ending to the day were four Hen Harriers preparing to roost (2 males and 2 females) on the central part of the reservoir.
By the way I also heard that flocks of Waxwings have been seen in Maribor and other parts in NE Slovenia, but today I didn't have time to go and look for them.
Well, I can't complain... I had an excellent day regardless!