Sunday 25 August 2013

Forest birding in Slovenia

Yesterday's evening was spent in the dinaric forests of Slovenia around Mašun. A gorgeous adult BLACK STORK (above) was the first in a series of excellent birds seen in the afternoon. At the stork's site an unexpected Tawny Owl put on show in complete daylight as it perched on a maple tree in front of its nest-hole (or roost) in a church's wall.
The open fields and meadows held the first Wheatear of the autumn as well as lots of migrant Whinchats which are now very common.
The forest of Mašun itself was also alive with migrants, which were mostly Spotted and Pied Flycatchers (3rd above), Wood Warblers and Chiffchaffs and a single Common Whitethroat, all flitting through the high canopies of conifers and beech trees. Among them was also a rather unexpected Icterine Warbler. Supporting cast in the forest also included 3 Nutcrackers, a Black Woodpecker, Honey Buzzard, Coal, Crested and Willow Tit, Firecrest and Raven.
In the evening a pair of URAL OWLS performed a duet song at very close distance, while another female was calling far away in the forest. The commonest mammal was as always Edible Dormouse, but two Foxes and a few Roe Deers were also seen.

Local patch: yesterday in the morning I was alerted by the screaming gulls and crows of the presence of a raptor. So I looked out of the window and to my amazement found, not the usual Buzzard, but a female Goshawk soaring above the suburb. It then proceeded in direction of Trieste, leaving behind the cloud of noisy gulls and crows.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Gallicus again and again

Here we are again with Short-toed Eagle! I'm sorry to bore you with this species, but this seems to be the only thing that flies over wind-swept karstic grasslands these days (4 birds seen today). And it's also one of the few decent things on the bird front. Well, actually a pair of Black Storks this afternoon was also very much appreciated.
The first migrant Whinchats have appeared in the fields, but I'm still waiting to see autumn's first Sylvias, flycatchers and warblers.
Migration fever is here... stay tuned!

Friday 16 August 2013

Motorway Circaetus

This afternoon I was driving on the Slovenian motorway near Sežana, while a SHORT-TOED EAGLE had the brilliant idea to appear above my car, right when I was overtaking a truck. Great timing! Later in the afternoon near Škocjanske jame I saw another Short-toed Eagle hanging in mid-air, almost motionless above the hills. Most probably the same individual was also seen later a few kilometres away near Divača. So at least 2 different individuals. The above pics were taken at Divača's airfield where the bird was hunting over the grassland; note the typical dangling massive head.
Other birds seen briefly also included a few Alpine Swifts, 4 Ravens 2 Stonechats and 2 Honey Buzzards.

Local patch: this morning I also had two Honey Buzzards soaring above the patch, together with a Common Buzzard. A few migrant Swallows have appeared in the last few days and also some migrant Common Swifts are seen on a daily basis (the local breeding birds are long gone now). A whistling Nightingale from the nearby woodland was also of note today (as it was clearly a migrant). Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker on a daily basis in the garden. The Alpine Swifts around Monte Grisa are always there in their usual numbers. Otherwise it's all pretty quiet in the patch at the moment, but soon migration will pick up...

Škocjanski zatok NR: earlier this week I was on site for the weekly monitoring, but the situation was quite calm. A juvenile Black Tern (still in the lagoon) and a male Little Bittern were the most notable birds.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Dipper afternoon

This afternoon I spent a few hours on Planinsko polje in Slovenia, looking for some characteristic birds of the fast-flowing streams. The highlight and main target was the DIPPER which put on great show - two birds (probably the local pair) were showing brilliantly while feeding, swimming and running underwater and also while preening on the rocks or flying up and downstream. The light was pretty bad so the above photos are purely for documentation. Other typical birds of this habitat included a family of Grey Wagtails and 2 Kingfishers. Two nice Hobbies were hunting over the meadows of Planinsko polje where 4 White Storks were also feeding. About 6 Crag Martins were also seen on the way back home, at the usual site near Postojna.

Friday 2 August 2013

August at last!

Škocjanski zatok NR: autumn migration is kicking in and it's getting quite lively in the wetland. The main problem now is the limited visibility on the overgrown freshwater marsh, which usually hides the best birds (impossible to see if not flushed by the cattles). Fortunately the wardens have begun with the mowing, so in a few weeks we should have a very nice view across the area. Yesterday morning a juvenile Black Tern (above) was of note and one of the Glossy Ibises was still around (feeding in the brackish lagoon). Wood Sandpiper numbers are building up (15 ind.) as are those of other waders like Common and Green Sandpipers, Snipes (4 yesterday), Curlews and so on. A juvenile Med Gull was in the lagoon - a scarce bird at the reserve. Little Egrets have also reached good numbers with up to 121 counted yesterday. Also 2-4 Night Herons and 13 Pygmy Cormorants and still 38 Common Terns in the lagoon. Other birds of note included Turtle Dove, Yellow Wagtail and a family of Nightingales.
A few days ago one of the wardens also recorded the first Little Crake of the autumn.

Local patch: yesterday in the evening I had the pleasure to listen to the song of a Nightjar, while relaxing on the armchair at my sister's home. The bird performed the long an insisting song for most of the evening and included in its repertoire lots of "kuuik" calls, wing-clapping and every kind of eerie calls. A Nightingale was also whistling nearby and after a while a Scops Owl began to sing. All in all a pleasant local patch chorus from the comfort of the armchair!