Saturday 26 October 2013

Autumn wildflowers

Colchicum autumnale - Karst
Aethionema saxatile - Karst
Allium montanum - Mt. Nanos
Satureja montana - Karst
Carlina acaulis - Mt. Vremščica
Gentiana asclepiadea - Trnovski gozd
Gentiana pneumonanthe - Cerkniško jezero
Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus - Mt. Kavčič
Linum tenuifolium - Karst
Campanula pyramidalis - local patch
Vincetoxicum hirundinaria - local patch
It's all quite dull at the moment, especially bird and weather-wise, so here's a botanical post to liven up the situation. A selection of wildflowers took at the end of September, mostly in Slovenia, on the Karst.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Dinaric forest full immersion

I'm back from three days of university field lessons on the Snežnik plateau and surrounding Dinaric forests (Slovenia). The weather has been absolutely brilliant with sunny conditions and some nice chilly mornings and evening (touched 0 degrees C). We mainly visited forest areas around Mašun and Sviščaki, climbed on the top of mt. Snežnik (1796 m.a.s.) and visited the Krokar primary forest (virgin forest) near Kočevje. The trip was conduced for the subject of ecology, so wasn't strictly birding-related. However I managed to see a couple of interesting species here and there. Highlight were my first REDWINGS for the season - flock of 6 seen on two consecutive days at Mašun. A few times I also heard autumn's first Bramblings and Siskins passing overhead, among the very abundant Chaffinches. Common, but interesting upland forest species included: Crossbill (very common), Bullfinch (feasting on rowan berries), Goldcrest, Coal and Willow Tit, Raven, Mistle Thrush, Hawfinch, Black Woodpecker (2 heard), Crested Tit, Treecreeper (2). Also a single Nutcracker was heard calling. Interesting raptors included a Peregrine and a Goshawk soaring above the steep cliffs of Krokar plateau. On the way back home I also spotted a Great Grey Shrike at Bloško polje (from the bus). All in all a good couple of days. Here's a few landscape pics:
Mt. Snežnik (the right top) as seen from Sviščaki
Top of mt. Snežnik with its extensive mountain pine Pinus mugo stand
Mountain pine Pinus mugo
Temperature inversion in one of Snežnik's valleys
Clear-cut border between upland beech forest and mountain pine stand
Looking north-east
Carlina acaulis
Erica carnea
Krokar primary forest - mainly composed of beech Fagus sylvatica and silver fir Abies alba
Krokar's south-facing edge with cliffs - Peregrine's habitat
Native black pine Pinus nigra stands on thermophilic south-facing slope

Thursday 10 October 2013

Lanius excubitor!

Today I caught up with the first GREAT GREY SHRIKES of the season. Precisely three birds seen in the course of the morning, on the Slovenian Karst between Sežana and Senožeče. I was quite glad to find one in each of the habitats I checked. The above pics are just for documentation as usual with these little beasts and show two different individuals. They tend to be quite wary and "distant".
Low clouds, rain and misty conditions are keeping late-autumn migrants still grounded these days and the Karst was quite alive with passerines. Song Thrushes were everywhere this morning, along with hundreds of Chaffinches, Jays, Robins and Dunnocks. Other birds seen included Yellowhammer (2), Hawfinch, Grey Heron (1 in karstic scenery), Meadow Pipit (small flock), Skylark (10), Woodlark (singing a bit everywhere now), Blackcap (good numbers), Chiffchaff, Raven, Black Redstart, Kestrel and Buzzard.
Yesterday during a short session of unplanned urban birding in Trieste I found a female Common Redstart in a small garden. In the evening I watched about 25 Jackdaws going to roost and reasonably big flocks of Starlings gathering on kaki trees.

Local patch: this morning a flock of 10 Swallows was still present in the area. Also some House Martins still occasionally found here and there. In the last three days good numbers of Water Pipits were migrating along the coast with quite big flocks of Chaffinches and even a flock of +60 Woodpigeons flew over the suburb. Dunnock invasion has begun and now they are fairly common in the gardens.