Thursday 31 July 2014

A summer day on the Karst

Allium carinatum with mt. Vremščica (1027 m) in the background.
Enjoyed a nice all-day visit to the Slovenian Karst, concentrating in the area of Divača. A lot of rain this summer (including today) means that the karstic grasslands, usually dry at this time of year, are now green like in April and are hosting carpets of multi-coloured flowers. The three main (commonest) species forming these carpets are Allium carinatum, Betonica officinalis and Veronica barrelieri.
Today also lots of interesting birds. Started well in the morning with two juvenile BARRED WARBLERS Sylvia nisoria, showing nicely in a bush, in an area I've never seen them before.
Juvenile Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria.
Supporting cast on the grasslands included Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Stonechat Saxicola torquatus, Hoopoe Upupa epops (4-5), Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus, Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra, Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis (on passage), Lesser Whiethroat Sylvia curruca (migrant), Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella, Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos (migrant) and Alpine Swift Apus melba (+30).
A check of Škocjanske jame (Škocjan caves) produced two Crag Martins Ptyonoprogne rupestris that this year are breeding in the area.
Also several woodland birds with the most noteworthy being 2 Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius, 3 showy Crested Tits Lophophanes cristatus (lured on pishing), Coal Tit Periparus ater, and a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata.
In the hottest hours of the day also a lot of raptor movement; first in the morning Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, Common Buzzard Buteo buteo and Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, then on mount Vremščica in the afternoon also a juvenile Goshawk Accipiter gentilis and a GRIFFON VULTURE Gyps fulvus and to round up the day nicely, a Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus perched in full view on a pine (see below).
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Allium carinatum
Allium sphaerocephalon
Campanula glomerata
Dianthus sylvestris ssp. tergestinus
Eryngium amethystinum
Minuartia capillacea
Satureja subspicata
Mix of Allium carinatum, A. sphaerocephalon & Veronica barrelieri; also Euphorbia sp. in the back.
Betonica officinalis (violet flowers) and Veronica barrelieri (blue flowers).