Sunday 29 December 2013


2013 started with a cold January that brought some amazing northern vagrants. In January and February I made a few trips to Ptuj (Slovenia) and saw the above LONG-TAILED DUCK, both WHOOPER and BEWICK'S SWANS and a large variety of interesting wildfowl and waterbirds.

WAXWING invasion in Udine (north-east Italy) - surely one of the highlights of the winter. More than 200 birds gathered between February and April in the town centre.

Spring brought many highlights and this CUCKOO on the 1st of April in the patch was an excellent start.

An April trip to north-eastern Slovenia provided a very strong dose of pannonian birding with highlight being WHITE-HEADED DUCK (my first lifer of the year), Long-tailed Duck, PALLID HARRIER, Bewick's Swan, Osprey, White-tailed Eagle, Black Stork, a Stoat and much more - all in one day!

A BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR in the garden in April was a local mega - and a new bird for the patch.

The GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO I went to see at the end of April was perhaps the rarest of all the birds seen this year.

BARRED WARBLER season on the Karst was good and in May I managed to locate several territories of this elusive Sylvia.

LESSER GREY SHRIKE was again breeding successfully in 2013 on one of the few remaining sites for the species in Slovenia.

A trip to Cerkniško jezero (Slovenia) in July represented one of the year's best birding days. COMMON ROSEFINCH was the highlight, along with several other birds like Corncrake, Grasshopper Warbler, Spotted & Little Crake, Short-toed Eagle and many more.

The PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Valle Canal Novo (Marano Lagunare) in July was my second lifer this year.

Between August and December 2013 I enjoyed many happy moments in the company of the DIPPERS on Planinsko polje (Slovenia).

SHORT-TOED EAGLES seen many times on the Karst during July and August were a good summer entertainment.

BLACK STORK was also in the focus of summer 2013. I made several visits to the foraging site of a local pair near Divača and enjoyed many close encounters with this rare and elusive species.

TEREK SANDPIPER was the third lifer of the year. I went to see it at Valle Canal Novo NR, where the Pectoral Sandpiper was present two months earlier.

The first GREAT GREY SHRIKE of the season in October - always a pleasure.

Dinaric forest full immersion - on the university front a 3 day trip to the Snežnik forests (Slovenia) was an absolute highlight of my field lessons career.

SNOW BUNTINGS at Lisert were a major late-autumn attraction - 3 birds were present, but I only saw two of them.

The year started and ended with LONG-TAILED DUCKS. Three birds were seen at Cerkniško jezero at the beginning of December and a female was in the Quarantia canal at the end of the month.

Actually 2013 was stuffed with highlights and probably there are too many to list them all. Some of them will remain impressed in my memory more than others: the trip to the Trnovo forest and Nanos plateau in September with URAL OWLS, TENGMALM'S OWL and GOLDEN EAGLES, the SHORT-EARED OWLS seen at Medvedce reservoir (January) and at Magredi del Meduna (May), the day at Cerkniško jezero in September with an adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE & singing URAL OWLS, the GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE twitch at Torviscosa in January, the RED KITES seen in October, the male RING OUZEL seen on Mt.Nanos in April, the different WALLCREEPERS seen through the winter, the CORNCRAKE holding territory on the Karst (June) or the self-found SHORT-TOED LARK at Škocjanski zatok in April.
    2013 was a very good year for the patch as well. I added several new species to the local list including Alpine Accentor, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Reed Bunting, Spoonbill, Crag Martin, Black-eared Wheatear and Little Grebe. The latter was a milestone species - the 160th.
    In 2013 I also held a local patch year list which at the end of the year numbered 122 bird species.

    But of course I cannot forget to mention the botanical part of the year. Below are some personal favourites.
    Crocus weldenii
    Allium sphaerocephalon
    Sorbus aria
    Primula carniolica
    Gladiolus illyricus
    Sorbus aucuparia
    Pinus mugo
    Gentiana clusii
    Primula auricula
    Lilium bulbiferum
    Helleborus niger
    Lush meadow
    Gentiana lutea