Saturday 25 March 2017

Spring in Slovenian forests

Although this spring I'm almost 2000 km away from home (see Wild Delta Experience), it would be a pity not to share on this blog some of the most beautiful wlidlife (my favourite actually) found across Slovenian forests at this time of the year. I'll start with the above Fritillaria meleagris (also known as "marsh tulip" in Slovenia) which blooms quite early: in the last days of March and the first week of April. There are only a few places in Slovenia where this plant can be found. The above shot was taken in Krakovski gozd - a deciduous floodplain forest in eastern Slovenia, where fortunately this beautiful flower is still quite common.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius in an oak woodland on the Slovenian Karst, where the species holds a small population. This interesting woodpecker, mostly territorial in March is very scarce in the west of the country, whereas in central and eatsren Slovenia is found more commonly, especially in oak floodplain forests.
Erythronium dens-canis is one of the most beautiful early-spring woodland flowers. This shot was taken last year in a karstic oak woodland where carpets of these can be found.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus in the Dinaric forests of the Javorniki mountains, excavating a nest-hole in a silver fir Abies alba. In Slovenia this rare woodpecker is found in old coniferous forest above 700 m a.s.l., where there's still enough dead wood to support its main invertebrate prey and soft timber for nest excavation. This video sums up a bit the spring atmosphere in a Dinaric forest with a close encounter with the above woodpecker.
Scopolia carniolica in the Kočevje forests. This plant is a Slovenia's specialty, as it was first discovered in this region (the former Carniola) and named after the scientist J.A. Scopoli. It grows in mixed mountain forests throughout the Dinaric region of Slovenia and in some other European countries.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos ssp. lilfordi inspectig a rotten stump in the Kočevje forest. This is Slovenia's rarest woodpecker with only about 100-150 breeding pairs, mostly confined to old mountain beech forests with large quantities of dead wood. It feeds mostly on longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae) larvae which are found in decaying deciduous wood.
Hacquetia epipactis, Slovenian Karst. This is a typical flower of early spring in Slovenian forests and woodlands. It was named after the botanist B. Hacquet who worked in this region in the 18th century. 
Ural Owl Strix uralensis is the most abundant owl species in Dinaric forests of beech and silver fir (Abieti-Fagetum), especially in south and central Slovenia. It is frequently observed during daylight, all year round.
Early spring woodland flower mix in the Dinaric mountains: Hacquetia epipactis (yellow one), Omphalodes verna (blue), Anemone nemorosa (white).
Morimus funereus is a longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae) species found commonly in deciduous forests across Slovenia. It is most at home on oak Quercus and beech trees Fagus sylvatica, where it lays the eggs in freshly-cut trunks. 
Paeonia officinalis is certainly one of the most beautiful spring flowers in sunny oak woodlands on the Karst. It usually blooms in April and May when the forest vegetation is already lush green.