Thursday, 13 June 2019

A week in Notranjska & Karst

Another "Wild Slovenia in Spring" tour with Naturetrek is behind us. We've been helping co-leading this trip for the last two years now (see 2018 report), showing our guests the beautiful and varied wildlife of southern Slovenia. Our base was, as usual, set in the fantastic scenary of lake Cerknica in the Notranjska region. From there we explored the lake, but especially the meadows and forests around it, as well as locations further west, in the Pivka area and the Karst region of western Slovenia. On the last day, just before taking the group back to the airport, we made a short detour to the Kamnik-Savinja Alps to enjoy some beautiful swathes of Lady's Slippers Cypripedium calceolus, as well as some other representatives of the alpine flora. Despite the overall late flowering season, caused by the heavy rains and cold weather in May, we enjoyed in the warmest and sunniest week of the year so far. Many butterflies and plants we expected to see, weren't out yet (although we saw them last year), but other unexpected surprises greeted us on a daily basis. Being a "general wildlife" holiday we concentrated on plants, butterflies and birds in more or less equal measures. Apart from these, we also enjoyed some other wildlife including mammals & bats. One morning, two lucky guests even saw two Wolves Canis lupus, during a walk not far from our accomodation!
Here's a selection of the wildlife we've enjoyed during the week... bird list at the end of the post.
Illyrian Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus, Planinsko polje.
Amethyst Meadow Squill Scilla litardierei, Planinsko polje. 
Very rare species in Slovenia with its only location in the 
country on the wet meadows of Planinsko polje.
Purple-edged Copper Lycaena hippothoe, Cerkniško jezero.
"Bog Orchid" Anacamptis palustris, Cerkniško jezero.
Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata, Planinsko polje.
Marsh Lousewort Pedicularis palustris & Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, Bloška planota.
Hungarian Glider Neptis rivularis, Planinsko polje.
Lady's Slipper Cypripedium calceolus, Snežnik plateau. 
One of the 16 plants at one of the species' few sites in southern Slovenia.
Coralroot Orchid Corallorhiza trifida, Snežnik plateau. 
Another rare orchid of which we enjoyed several specimen at the 
same site as the Lady's Slippers.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Javorniki mountains. 
We had great views of a fledling, as well as of its parents nearby, 
while a second juvenile was calling in the distance.
Yellow Daylily Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, Iška river. 
A rare and localised plant in Slovenia.
Beech Longhorn Beetle Morimus funereus, Snežnik plateau.
Bird's-nest Orchid Neottia nidus-avis, Snežnik plateau.
Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina on Laserpitium archangelica, Iška river.
Laserpitium archangelica, Iška river. 
A rare umbellifer with a Dinaric distribution.
Mountain Cornflower Centaurea montana, Iška river.
Alpine Mezereon Daphne alpina, Snežnik plateau.
Mountain Kidney-vetch Anthyllis montana subsp. jacquinii, Snežnik plateau.
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, Bloška planota.
Fly Orchid Ophrys insectifera, Snežnik plateau.
Military Orchid Orchis militaris, Snežnik plateau.
Grass-leaved Iris Iris graminea, Snežnik plateau.
Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia, Snežnik plateau.
European Green Lizard Lacerta viridis, Snežnik plateau.
Burnt-tip Orchid Neotinea ustulata & Lesser Butterfly Orchid Platanthera bifolia
Snežnik plateau.
Round-headed Rampion Phyteuma orbiculare, Snežnik plateau.
Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae, Snežnik plateau.
Purple Broom Chamaecytisus purpureus, Snežnik plateau.
Perennial Flax Linum narbonense, Snežnik plateau.
Nickerl's/Assman's Fritillary Melitaea aurelia/britomartis, Snežnik plateau.
Amelanchier Amelanchier ovalis, Snežnik plateau.
Globe Orchid Traunsteinera globosa, Bloška planota.
Northern Brown Argus Aricia artaxerxes, Bloška planota.
Arnica Arnica montana, Bloška planota.
Flower meadows on mount Vremščica.
Carniolan Lily Lilium carniolicum, Vremščica. 
One of Slovenia's most characteristic flowers, 
named after Carniola, the historical region within today's Slovenia.
White Asphodel Asphodelus albus, Vremščica.
A sea of Steppe Grass Stipa eriocaulis, Vremščica.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus with prey, Sežana Karst.
Purple-shot Copper Lycaena alciphron, Sežana Karst. 
A scarce and localised butterfly in Slovenia, usually very territorial and 
super-fast flying, hence difficult to observe.
Steppe Grass Stipa eriocaulis & Mount Nanos.
A sea of Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus freynii, Sežana Karst.
Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe, Sežana Karst.
Twin-spot Fritillary Brenthis hecate, Sežana Karst.
Nickerl's Fritillary Melitaea aurelia, Vremščica.
Pearly Heath Coenonympha arcania, Sežana Karst.
Woodland Ringlet Erebia medusa, Snežnik plateau.
Dingy Skipper Erynnis tages, Snežnik plateau.
Weevil sp. (Curculionidae), Iška river.
Yellow Pea Lathyrus laevigatus subsp. occidentalis, Rakov Škocjan.
Striated Mezereon Daphne striata, Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
Lady's Slipper Cypripedium calceolus, Kamnik-Savinja Alps. 
On the last day we enjoyed tens of these beautiful orchids at a site, 
some 30 minutes away from Ljubljana's airport!

Apart from Ural Owls, some other interesting birds were observed during the week, including: Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica (2 at Cerkniško jezero - rare species in Slovenia), Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus (4), Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos (1 - Snežnik plateau), Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (2 - Karst & Snežnik plateau), Corncrake Crex crex (daily at Cerkniško jezero), Black Stork Ciconia nigra, White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (1 - Cerkniško jezero), Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus, Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria, Bee-eater Merops apiaster (migration), Hoopoe Upupa epops, Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Rock Bunting Emberiza cia, Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius.