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.