Sunday 16 December 2018

A cracking Nutcracker!

Today we were absolutely blown away by a very close encounter with a tame Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes. We observed the bird near a small village close to Postojna, as we were driving past a walnut tree. At first we noticed an unusually dark "Jay" dropping to the ground under a walnut and seconds after realised it was no usual Jay but a beautiful Nutcracker! We pulled over, right close to the tree, some 5 meters away from the bird - it completely ignored us and kept searching for walnuts. After collecting a walnut and taking it away to a nearby conifer forest, it returned to the site, repeating the operation for at least 5 times. We remained positioned in the car right under the tree and enjoyed the bird making its cache at very close quarters for about half an hour. 
Nutcracker is a widespread species through mountain forests of Slovenia, but present in low numbers and always rather tricky to observe. Most of our yearly sightings of this species in the Dinaric forests involve heard-only or distantly-seen birds, especially in the autumn. The species is somewhat commoner in Alpine forests of northern Slovenia, but views like the one we had today are nevertheless a rare event.