Thursday 31 December 2015


 2015 has come to an end, so it's time for the yearly review of my field activity. The very best moments of my 2015 are represented in the images below. As this was a "botanical year" for me, I'll start with my top 4 plant highlights; birds and other wildlife follow (not in chronological order).

  Eryngium alpinum - Porezen (Julian Prealps), July.

Cypripedium calceolus - Snežnik plateau, June.

Scopolia carniolica - Kočevje forest, April.

Physoplexis comosa - Mangrt (Julian Alps), July.

Tengmalm's Owl Aegolius funereus - Trnovski gozd, November. A sketch from the notebook. This was my best bird sighting of the year (first time I saw one so well).

In 2015 I was lucky enough to see two different Brown Bears Ursus arctos while driving on forest roads in Slovenia. The first was in October on the Snežnik plateau, while the second was in December in Trnovski gozd. The latter was observed well for a prolonged time and rates as one of the best observations of the year (pic taken last year in the Kočevje forest complex).

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis - Nanos, May. An excellent present for my birthday, accompanied by a variety of mountain flowers and nice sunshine.

Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva - Alps in northern Slovenia, June. A bird that I really wanted to see on its breeding grounds in Slovenia. Had two birds singing close by in a mountain beech forest.

Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria - Trieste, April. The first observation of this species in my local patch and it was even a summer-plumaged male.

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos - Kočevje, April. The other few White-backs I had this year were also in the Kočevje forests and on Snežnik.

Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus (male) - Javorniki mountains, December. This year I managed to see at least two males, while females were more commonly encountered (as in 2014). All observations were made in the Dinaric forests of Trnovski gozd, Snežnik, Javorniki and Kočevje.

During an organised census in August, I heard my first Grey Wolf Canis lupus, howling at the moon on the Slovenian Karst. The above picture shows some probable wolf tracks in the snow on Javorniki mountains (December).

Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus - Illmitz (Autsria), October. With this species I completed the mission of seeing all european Picids in one year! Apart from the above, all the others were in Slovenia. Highlights of the autumn trip to Austria included also Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Saker Falco cherrug, Red Kite Milvus milvus and others.

 Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius - Slovenian Karst, January. In 2015 I found some new locations on the Karst, where this species breeds rarely. At least 4-5 different birds were seen. 

Ural Owl Strix uralensis - Kočevje, May. I had several encounters with this species through the year, especially in spring. The most interesting was the record of a probable breeding pair, I found and followed on the Slovenian Karst.

Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum - first pic from the Pokljuka plateau, second from Trnovski gozd (both in November). Showing beautifully on sunny autumn days.

Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis - Mangrtsko sedlo (Julian Alps), August. A pair was feeding its young on a vertical cliff. Not very easy to catch up with this high-altitude species.

Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis - Krakovski gozd, May. One of the many (+10) holding territory in the alluvial forest on a warm spring day.

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (adult) with a Buzzard Buteo buteo - Krakovski gozd, May.

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus - Pordenone (Norh-east Italy), February. A bird I went to twitch with a couple of friends. It was present there for quite some time, but was always distant and flighty.

Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus - Slovenian Karst near Sežana, May. This year we had an invasion of this species, with hundreds of birds reported daily from different parts of Slovenia. The above picture shows a small part of the +80 individuals I saw on my location.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra - Cerkniško jezero, June. While watching this bird I also had several singing Rosefinches Carpodacus erythrinus on the wet grasslands around the Cerknica lake.

A glorious September day on mount Vremščica (looking north towards Triglav) where after 4 years I saw again a Dotterel Charadrius morinellus on migration.

Bearded Tits Panurus biarmicus - undisclosed site in north-east Italy, December. 

Botanical lifers or wish-to-see species:
Fritillaria meleagris - Ljubljansko barje, March.

Pedicularis friderici-augusti - Slavnik, May.

Himantoglossum adriaticum - Bertoki (Koper), May.

Scilla litardierei - Planinsko polje, June.

Nigritella lithopolitanica - Velika Planina (Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe), June. 

Nigritella rubra (N. miniata) - Mangrtsko sedlo (Julian Alps), July.

Dianthus sternbergii - Mangrtsko sedlo (Julian Alps), July.

Campanula zoysii - Mangrtsko sedlo (Julian Alps), July.

Gentiana pannonica - Porezen (Julian Prealps), July.

Geranium argenteum - Krn (Julian Alps), August.

Papaver alpinum ssp. victoris - Krn (Julian Alps), August.

Spiranthes spiralis - Trieste Karst (North-east Italy), September.

Viola zoysii - Stol (Karavanke), December.

Other wildlife:
Horn-nosed Viper Vipera ammodytes - Carsiana botanical garden (Trieste), September. Up to 3 different individuals were regularly seen in a rocky area of the garden.

Rosalia alpina - Komna (Julian Alps), July.

Apollo Parnassius apollo on Carduus defloratus - Breginjski Stol (Julian Alps), July.

 Adder Vipera berus - Črna prst (Julian Alps), July.

Alpine Ibex Capra ibex - Krn (Julian Alps), August.

Best places I've been to:
Sunrise from mount Krn (Julian Alps) in August.

  Beech forest on mount Nanos with a carpet of Wild garlic Allium ursinum; May.

Črna prst (Julian Alps) - a mountain of botanical delights; July.

South-western grassy slopes of Nanos with Lilium carniolicum and lots of other flowers; June.

Snežnik - mountain & forest; June.

Wet grassland at Cerkniško jezero with Eriophorum angustifolium; June.

Soča river in the Trenta valley (Triglav National Park); August.

 Still discovering new hidden places in Trnovski gozd; November.

Mount Triglav from Šijec bog on the Pokljuka plateau; November.