As tradition demands, in the last blog post of the year we shall go through the highlights of 2019. In recent years these "reviews" have become rather long and actually some sort of "calendars" rather than concise summaries. Therefore we apologise for the length of the post, but at least we are sure you can follow the changing seasons while scrolling down the photos. This year we enriched the post with several short videos, so make sure you watch those too! As usual most of our field work has been concentrated in Slovenia, especially in the Karst, Notranjska and the coast (Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve). However it would be a pity to omit from the post the few trips we made abroad and some occasional daily trips to Italy and Croatia which brought us several interesting species.
So here we go - this is our 2019 calendar. Enjoy!
BramblingFringilla montifringilla, Zasavje, January. This huge flock of 5 million birds was gathering in an area of 5-10 ha to roost and made the news all over Europe. It was a spectacle not to be missed!
A close daylight encounter with a group of 4 animals.
Winter AconiteEranthis hyemalis, Kozjansko Regional Park, February. Rare species in Slovenia with only a handful of locations.
Dark Purple HelleboreHelleborus atrorubens, Kozjansko Regional Park, February.
Feeding signs of BeaverCastor fiber, Kozjansko Regional Park, February.
Black WoodpeckerDryocopus martius, Karst, February.
Middle Spotted WoodpeckerDendrocopos medius, Karst, March. Another productive year for this species' census in western Slovenia. We discovered many new territories in the Karst and the Brkini hills. Some transects had unexpected high densities of birds.
Moor FrogRana arvalis, Ljubljansko barje, March.
dream of a lifetime was seeing these frogs in their beautiful
courtship colour. This spectacle lasts for only a few days every spring.
Little CrakePorzana parva, Škocjanski zatok, March.
Greater PasqueflowerPulsatilla grandis, Mt. Boč, March. A very rare and endangered plant in Slovenia, found only at a handful of sites.
Henbane BellScopolia carniolica, Mt. Boč, March. One of Slovenia's most iconic and famous plants.
Pallas's Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus proregulus, Karst edge, March. We were very pleased to have found this "second for Slovenia" all by ourselves.
Ural OwlStrix uralensis, Brkini hills, March. A rare sight in this area that might suggest a possible breeding. This year we also made repeated observation in the Karst, where the species has not yet been confirmed as a breeding bird.
Short-toed EagleCircaetus gallicus, Karst, April.
WallcreeperTichodroma muraria, Karst edge, April.
Southern CommaPolygonia egea, Karst edge, April. A rare butterfly in Slovenia, typical of rocky thermophilous places.
White-backed WoodpeckerDendrocopos leucotos, Javorniki Mts., April. One of 9 territorial birds found in our lucky transect during a census.
Southern FestoonZerinthia polyxena, Karst, April. A beautiful but rather scarce early-spring butterfly in Slovenia.
Woodchat ShrikeLanius senator, Cerkniško jezero, May. A rare spring migrant in continental Slovenia.
Three-toed WoodpeckerPicoides tridactylus, Javorniki Mts., May. A drumming female observed during a guided tour with English guests.
Ural OwlStrix uralensis (dark morph), Javorniki Mts., May. This bird was mobbed by a pair of White-backed Woodpeckers nesting nearby (see below).
White-backed WoodpeckerDendrocopos leucotos, Javorniki Mts., May. After a long search, Sara managed to find the nest of this rare and endangered woodpecker. We followed the breeding progress until the chicks fledged successfully.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Javorniki Mts., May. Great close encounter with a bold male, hunting along a forest road.
Bank VoleClethrionomys glareolus, Javorniki Mts., May.
Red Belt ConkFomitopsis pinicola, Javorniki Mts., May.
Black-headed BuntingEmberiza melanocephala, Vipava valley, May. A rare and irregular spring "overshooter" to Slovenia.
Black StorkCiconia nigra, Vipava valley, May. This adult was fishing in a village stream, not far away from its nesting territory. A rare breeding bird in Slovenia and always a pleasure to see up close.
HoopoeUpupa epops, Karst, May.
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspia, Škocjanski zatok, May. A rare migrant in SW Slovenia.
Short-toed EagleCircaetus gallicus, Karst, June. In summer we've been regularly following the breeding of our local pair.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Javorniki Mts., June. One of 2-3 fledged chicks in a territory we've been monitoring in spring.
Yellow DaylilyHemerocallis lilioasphodelus, Iška river, June.
Lady's SlipperCypripedium calceolus, Kamnik Alps, June. Enjoyed them in great numbers in the Alps, as well as in small numbers on mount Snežnik, where the species is very rare.
Adriatic Lizard OrchidHimantoglossum adriaticum, Karst, June. This rare Natura 2000 species sprouted in a patch of uncut grass in our garden.
European Green LizardLacerta viridis, Karst, June.
Lesser Grey ShrikeLanius minor, Vipava valley, June. The adult sitting in the nest is just visible in the photo. Sadly this was the only nest in the Vipava valley and one of only three in the whole of Slovenia this year.
Great Sooty SatyrSatyrus ferula, Trnovski gozd, July.
Alpine Longhorn BeetleRosalia alpina, Trenta valley, July. In recent summers this became our most sought-after species. This year we managed to find up to 8 beetles in one day, which apparently coincided with the peak of their emergence.
Domen enjoying a close encounter with his year's absolute highlight!
Creeping Lady's-tressesGoodyera repens, Trenta valley, July.
Great Capricorn BeetleCerambyx cerdo, Karst, July.
Spanish SparrowPasser hispaniolensis, Vipava valley, July. We found this rare Mediterranean species outside of its usual range of occurrence along the Slovenian coast.
AvocetRecurvirostra avosetta, Škocjanski zatok, July. The first breeding of the species at Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve.
Snorkeling the Adriatic in the company of a Mediterranean JellyfishCotylorhiza tubercolata in August.
Mediterranean JellyfishCotylorhiza tubercolata, Gulf of Trieste, August. Large numbers of these attractive (and harmless) species were around this summer.
Sergeant MajorAbudefduf saxatilis, Gulf of Trieste, August. Cracking discovery this summer, when we came across the first Sergean Major for the Gulf of Trieste, as well as the Adriatic sea. Although an alien species from tropical seas, it was still a major satisfaction! Swimming a few centimeters away from a Bluefin TunaThunnus thynnus was also a major snorkeling highlight this summer!
Dalmatian BlennyLipophrys dalmatinus, Gulf of Trieste, August.
Sphinx BlennyAidablennius sphynx, Gulf of Trieste, August.
Greater Weever Trachinus draco, Gulf of Trieste, August.
One of two observed during several occasions in a beautiful
patch of dying spruce forest within a forest reserve.
Mount Mali Golak on a foggy October morning...
...and Veliki Golak a week after.
On the top of Veliki Golak (1480 m), Trnovski gozd, October.
Rock BuntingEmberiza cia, Trnovski gozd, October.
Northern BullfinchPyrrhula pyrrhula ssp. pyrrhula, Škocjanski zatok, October. A new species for the reserve. Northern or Trumpeting Bullfinches from northern Europe were frequently heard and seen this autumn, mostly in the Karst, but also on the coast.
Narrow-necked Cave BeetleLeptodirus hochenwartii, Notranjska, November. The first described cave beetle in the world and an endemic species of the Dinaric Karst.
Jack SnipeLymnocryptes minimus, Škocjanski zatok, November. A regular autumn and winter visitor to the reserve, but always very difficult to observe.
Common Crane Grus grus, Karst, December. Part of a flock of around 1000 birds that passed above our house during their autumn migration to the Mediterranean.