Tuesday 29 May 2018

Brown Bear weekend with BBC Wildlife Magazine

We spent the past weekend once again in the Notranjska and Kočevska forests of southern Slovenia, this time with some very special guests. A group of BBC Wildlife Magazine readers, escorted by one of the magazine's writers and our team, visited Slovenia, on a tour organised by Wildlife Worldwide with the cooperation of slovenianbears.com. We stayed as usual at the Mlakar guesthouse in Loška dolina, that also organised 3 sessions of Bear-watching from its purpose-built hides. Apart from several different Brown Bears Ursus arctos (up to 5 in one afternoon!), the participants could also enjoy great views of  Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Black Stork Ciconia nigra and a wide variety of birds in the wetland habitats of lake Cerknica, including Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrynus and Corncrake Crex crex. Among the most interesting mammals we managed to observe also: Pine Marten Martes martes, Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris & Red Deer Cervus elaphus. Enjoy the pics!

Brown Bear Ursus arctos - a total of 9 Bears was observed during the weekend, including 5 different individuals in one single afternoon (those in the above photos - all from the same hide).

Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus - we found an occupied nest in the Javorniki mountains, with the female still incubating the eggs.

Ural Owl Strix uralensis - two birds were observed in the forests of Loška dolina.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra - one of two birds seen on a daily basis at lake Cerknica.

 White Stork Ciconia ciconia - the nest at Gorenje Jezero had 5 chicks in it!

Cuckoo Cuculus canorus - a showy bird in front of the bear-hides.

Illyric Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus - on the wet meadows of lake Cerknica.

Bog Orchid Anacamptis palustris - on the wet meadows of lake Cerknica.

Bird's-nest Orchid Neottia nidus-avis - very common in the Dinaric forests.

Purple-edged Copper Lycaena hippothoe (female) - in a meadow at lake Cerknica.

Meanwhile, in a beech forest in the Karst near Sežana, a pair of Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius is at the very end of its nesting cycle. Several days ago we could confirm the presence of 3 chicks in a nest. These were fed by the male, approximately once every hour and could be observed from a safe distance. More photos & videos of this interesting bird in the next posts...
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius 
(video also available on Youtube).

Wednesday 23 May 2018

A wildlife week in Istria

We are back from a busy week in the Istrian peninsula, co-guiding a wildlife trip for Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays. The official holiday's report is still in preparation and for the moment we'll just post here some of the photos. Istria is a large peninsula in NW Croatia that also stretches, for a small portion into SW Slovenia. Most of our field trips were thus in Croatia, with a few occasional ramblings into Slovenia and NE Italy (on the last day). We observed a wide variety of wildlife, from birds to butterflies and a rich flora too. Some of the most interesting birds included Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca, Roller Coracias garrulus, Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana & Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala, Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida, Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, Pallid Swift Apus pallidus and Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Below is a selection of the wildlife we managed to photograph: first birds & mammals, then butterflies & insects and finally plants (lots of orchids!). Enjoy!

Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala - Mirna valley. 
Also had a brief encounter with a Roller Coracias garrulus nearby.

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana - Mt. Učka. 
Close by we also observed a spontaneously-singing Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca.

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans - Cape Kamenjak.

Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta - Cape Kamenjak.

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis - Mirna Valley.

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus - Istarske toplice.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius -  Istarske toplice.

Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus - Savudrija.

The Honeyguide group at Savudrija.

Chequered Blue Scolitantides orion - Istarske toplice.

Black Hairstreak Satyrium pruni - Nova vas.

Lesser Purple Emperor Apatura ilia - Istarske toplice.

Adonis Blue Polyommatus bellargus - Brgudac.

Amanda's Blue Polyommatus amandus - Movraška vala (Slovenia).

Baton Blue Pseudophilotes vicrama - Istarske toplice.

Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta - Oprtalj.

Large Chequered Skipper Heteropterus morpheus - Savudrija.

Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia - Cape Kamenjak.

Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe - Istarske toplice.

Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia - Brgudac.

Nickerl's Fritillary Melitaea aurelia - Senožeče (Slovenia).

Pearly Heath Coenonympha arcania - Oprtalj.

Cream-spot Tiger Arctia (Epicallia) villica - Nova vas.

Eastern Stone Grasshopper Prionotropis hystrix - Movraž (Slovenia).

Sub-Mediterranean dry grassland near Movraž - habitat of the Eastern Stone Grasshopper.

Saw-tailed Bush-cricket Polysarcus denticauda - Movraž (Slovenia).

"Beech Longhorn Beetle" Morimus funereus - Istarske toplice.

"Scopoli's Longhorn Beetle" Cerambyx scopolii - Senožeče (Slovenia).

Dalmatian Wall Lizard Podarcis melisellensis - Cape Kamenjak.

European Pond Terrapin Emys orbicularis - Isola della Cona (Italy).

Adriatic Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum adriaticum - Istarske toplice.

Pink Butterfly Orchid Anacamptis papilionacea - Tar.

Loose-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora - Buzet.

Violet Limodore Limodorum abortivum - Oprtalj.

Long-lipped Serapias Serapias vomeracea - Buzet.

Tongue Orchid Serapias lingua - Cape Kamenjak.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera - Škocjanski zatok NR (Slovenia).

Late Spider Orchid Ophrys holosericea (fuciflora) - Oprtalj.

Bug Orchid Anacamptis coriophora ssp. fragrans - Cape Kamenjak.

Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea - Mt. Učka.

Frog Orchid Coeloglossum viride - Mt. Učka.

Burt-tip Orchid Neotinea ustulata - Senožeče (Slovenia).

Globe Orchid Traunsteinera globosa - Mt. Učka.

Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas - Savudrija.

Cornflower Centaurea cyanus - Nova vas.

Corncockle Agrostemma githago - Nova vas.

Large Venus's-looking-glass Legousia speculum-veneris - Nova vas.

Montpellier Cistus Cistus monspeliensis - Cape Kamenjak.

Cistus incanus - Cape Kamenjak.

Hare's Tail Grass Lagurus ovatus - Cape Kamenjak.

Tommasini's Sandwort Moehringia tommasinii - Istarske toplice.

Ground-pine Ajuga chamaepitys - Istarske toplice.

Smoke Bush Cotinus coggygria & karst edge above Istarske toplice.

Matted Globularia Globularia cordifolia - Mt. Učka.

Grass-leaved Iris Iris graminea - Brgudac.

Siberian Iris Iris sibirica - Movraška vala (Slovenia). 

White Asphodel Asphodelus albus - Brgudac.

Steppe Grass Stipa eriocaulis & Jurinea mollis - Movraž (Slovenia).

View from Movraški Kuk in Slovenia to the Karst edge and city of Trieste in the distance.

The fortified Holy Trinity Church of Hrastovlje.

Istrian rural landscape with the village of Oprtalj.

The town of Motovun & the Motovun forest in the Mirna valley.