Saturday 25 May 2013

Red-footed Falcons

Spent the afternoon on the Slovenian Karst watching a pair of RED-FOOTED FALCONS (above) and listening to some BARRED WARBLERS holding territories. Up to 5 Kestrels were also quite busy with the hovering and hunting. Also a good amount of the usual countryside birds like Red-backed Shrike, Corn Bunting, Cuckoo, Skylark, loads of Swallows and Common Swifts and so on.

Local patch: yesterday evening I had the first singing NIGHTJAR for the patch this year. Always a thrill to hear it just "behind" the house. Also a good dusk-chorus of Nightingales, accompanied by Golden Oriole, Green Woodpecker, Blackcap and Robin.
The situation on the cliffs is more or less as usual with good numbers of Common and Alpine Swifts, 1 Blue Rock Thrush on territory, a few Rock Buntings and the local Ravens.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Trnovski gozd, plants and Lesser Grey Shrikes

Quite busy with university at the moment. Actually today's trip to Trnovski gozd (Trnovo forest) in Slovenia was a guided excursion with our botany professor. We had a quite good weather during the day and saw a good array of rare plant species, endemics and interesting stuff, for example Primula carniolica, Primula auricula (pic above) and P. veris, Daphne cneorum, Artemisia nitida, Gentiana clusii and so on.
On the bird front the morning was quite poor with just a couple of Cuckoos singing in the forest, along with a calling Grey-headed Woodpecker, Bullfinch, Lesser Whitethroat, Rock Bunting and commoner stuff. The hedges around the village of Lokavec yielded a singing Icterine Warbler and a Common Redstart.
Primula carniolica
Primula veris
Daphne cneorum
Gentiana clusii

The afternoon was more productive with 3 nice LESSER GREY SHRIKES in the Vipava valley (see below).

Friday 3 May 2013

It's all about hawthorns

I've been out on the Slovenian Karst this morning, mainly in the breeding area of the BARRED WARBLERS. I'm glad they are finally back as today I found at least 4 singing males. They were not so easy too see this time, because they kept hidden in the thick hawthorn bushes. But with a bit of fieldcraft and waiting I managed to get some really brilliant views of the males with their distinctive yellow eyes. The shots (above) instead are quite poor, because I just learned that photographing Barred Warblers is far from easy!
The area was so lively with countryside birds that it was difficult to follow all the going-ons and birds songs all around. During the scanning of the bushes I even managed to find a rarity in the form of a WOODCHAT SHRIKE - the second this year! It showed well on the top of the hawthorns and allowed some shots (below).
Woodchat Shrike
The area was also stuffed with Red-backed Shrikes (15 or more I guess). Most were males, with just 3 females around.
Red-backed Shrike - male
Then I was greeted by no less that two migrant MONTAGU'S HARRIERS (male and female) hunting above the meadows. Other raptors also included Hobby (3 - hunting insects over the grass), a single Kestrel, Honey Buzzard (2-3), several Common Buzzards and with a bit of waiting also the local SHORT-TOED EAGLE materialised in the sky. After a steep glide it landed on the top of an oak tree (see pic).
Short-toed Eagle
As I said there was a good variety of other common birds that included: Corn Bunting, 2 Wood Warblers, 1 Tree Pipit, +10 Skylarks, 3 Woodlarks, 2 Golden Orioles, 3-4 singing Lesser Whitethroats, +8 Common Whitethroats, 5 Whinchats, 2 singing Cuckoos, 2 Yellowhammers, 3 Wrynecks, 3 Hoopoes (only heard), Crossbill (passed overhead), Chiffchaff, 1 Black Woodpecker, Hawfinch, Mistle Thrush, 5 Sand Martins (migrating overhead), Linnet, Serin and a single Nightingale.
Interesting to note that up on the Karst the hawthorns (Crataegus) are not yet in bloom as opposed to the same bushes in full white colour down here on the coast.