Wednesday 29 December 2021


The thing that we love most about Nature, perhaps even more than a favourite species, a place or a certain type of activity, is something much bigger altogether. It is the changing of the seasons. Although every year brings the same old four seasons, there's never one like the other. Every season brings with it high expectations and there's always something new or thrilling that keeps us going year after year. May it be spring's first Cuckoo, the overwhelming colour of chlorophyll in April, Stag Beetles buzzing around the house on a July evening or the warm colours of beech trees in the autumn forest. We don't really need particular rarities, lifers or travelling to exotic locations to be happy. Our best wildlife encounters are always those that we experience at home, here in Slovenia. Being mostly "resident", we spend most of the time birding or wildlife watching not more than one hour drive from home. This year was no exception. It was, thanks to the amazing region where we live, another extraordinary year! The best time was spent (as very often) in the forest, this year studying the White-backed Woodpecker intensively and at the same time enjoying an amazing "rodent year", with consequent large numbers of owls. This year we also found two nests of Ural Owls and documented the first breeding of the species in the Karst! An enormous satisfaction was also finding a Black Stork's nest (the only known in western Slovenia), after so many years of following this particular pair. Last but not least, how could we forget that spring morning in the company of two lekking Capercaillies?! In summer and autumn we also greatly enjoyed multiple encounters with Brown Bears and sleeping out under the starry sky of the Dinaric forests in the company of good friends. 

But now, let's once again go through all the seasons of the past year, concentrating on our best memories...

Snowshoeing in the Dinaric mountains, Mt. Snežnik, January.
Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum during a showshoeing trek, Mt. Snežnik, January.
Smew Mergellus albellus, Cerkniško jezero, January.
Maidenhair Fern Adiantum capillus-veneris, Dragonja valley, February.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria, Karst edge, February. VIDEO
Common Cranes Grus grus migrating north, over our house, Karst, February.
Goosander Mergus merganser, river Reka, March. First record of the species on this river.
Bank Vole Myodes glareolus, Mt. Snežnik, March. It was an amazing "rodent year" in the Dinaric forests, with hundreds of voles encountered every time we were in the forest. This also boosted breeding owls numbers.
Common Frog Rana temporaria amongst its frogspawn, Brkini hills, March.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, Karst, March.
Common Crane Grus grus, Škocjanski zatok NR, March.
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus, Škocjanski zatok NR, April.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Strunjan Landscape Park, March.
Red Kite Milvus milvus over the house, Karst, March.
Late winter sunset over the Karst and Trnovski gozd, March.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, March.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Krakovski gozd, March.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo incubating on the nest, Karst, March. A nest that Sara found, some 8 km away from our home.
An unexpected & heavy snowfall hit most of Slovenia in early April.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Karst, March.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos ssp. lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, March. VIDEO
Finding a freshly-shed Red Deer's antler on Mt. Snežnik, March.
Bank Vole Myodes glareolus, Mt. Snežnik, April.
Horvath's Rock Lizard Iberolacerta horvathi, Mt. Snežnik, April.
Tawny Owl Strix aluco, Mt. Snežnik, April.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, April.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Mt. Snežnik, April.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis nesting in Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, Mt. Snežnik, April.
First Brown Bears Ursus arctos out of hibernation, Mt. Snežnik, April.
Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Škocjanski zatok NR, April.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Strunjan Landscape Park, April.
Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Škocjanski zatok NR, April.
Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Karst edge, April.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans, Karst edge, April.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus with snake, Karst, April.
Narrow-leaved Fritillary Fritillaria orientalis in the woodland behind the house, Karst, April.
Counting migrating raptors near Pivka with Touty, April.
Henbane Bell Scopolia carniolica, Brkini hills, April. A new locality for Slovenia and the first record in this region.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra incubating on nest, western Slovenia, April.
Beech Fagus sylvatica sapling, Karst, April.
Nuthatch Sitta europaea usurping an old Black Woodpecker's nest, Karst, April.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius nesting in a new cavity, Karst, April.
Dry karstic meadow with orchids, Divača, May.
Fly Orchid Ophrys insectifera, Karst, May.
Monkey Orchid Orchis simia, Karst, May.
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Divača, May. Two of the 7 birds hunting in group on Divača's airfield.
Horn-nosed Viper Vipera ammodytes in the local patch, Karst, May.
Chlorophyll explosion in the oak woodlands on the edge of the Karst, May.
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis, Karst, May.
First breeding of Ural Owl Strix uralensis in the Karst, May. VIDEO
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, Karst, May.
Brown Bear's footprint in the local patch, Karst, May.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus excavating nesthole, Kamnik-Savinja Alps, May. VIDEO
Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus (2 different males), Kamnik-Savinja Alps, May. VIDEO
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria, Pivka seasonal lakes, May.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Pivka seasonal lakes, May.
Springtime in the Dinaric forests, May.
Crossbill Loxia curvirostra, Mt. Snežnik, May.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, May. 1st nest we found this spring.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Javorniki Mts, May. 2nd nest of the season.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, May. 3rd nest of the season in a dead silver fir Abies alba (rare case of the species breeding in a conifer). VIDEO
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, May. Fledged juvenile (female) from the last nest.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo adult with chick on the nest, Karst, May.
Cereal field full of wonderful arable weeds, Istria, May.
Adriatic Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum adriaticum, Istria, May.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus in the neighbourhood, Karst, May.
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus & Mt. Snežnik, Pivka seasonal lakes, May.
Lunchtime on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Nanos, May.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia, Mt. Nanos, May.
Late spring Nanos' mix: Asphodelus albus, Paeonia officinalis & Iris illyrica, Mt. Nanos, May.
Illyrian Iris Iris illyrica, Mt. Nanos, May.
Siberian Iris Iris sibirica, Nanoščica river basin, June.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Karst, June.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Karst, June.
Safflower Skipper Pyrgus carthami, Karst, June.
Dalmatian Wall Lizard Podarcis melisellensis, Karst, June.
Fox Vulpes vulpes, Karst, June.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Strunjan Landscape Park, June. One of the 3 breeding pairs in the salinas in 2021.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus with chicks, Strunjan Landscape Park, June.
Hobby Falco subbuteo, Strunjan Landscape Park, June.
Colour-ringed Common Tern Sterna hirundo, Škocjanski zatok NR, June.
Breeding birds survey with kayak at Škocjanski zatok NR, June.
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana, Karst, June.
Hoopoe Upupa epops chick in nestbox, Karst, June. VIDEO
Wild Sage Salvia officinalis on the Karst plateau & Istria in the distance, June.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra adult with chick on the nest, western Slovenia, June.
Lady's-slippers Cypripedium calceolus, Mt. Snežnik, June.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, fledged juvenile, Javorniki Mts., June.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Mt. Snežnik, June.
Pine Marten Martes martes, Mt. Snežnik, June.
Tau Emperor Aglia tau, Mt. Snežnik, June.
A sea of forest on the Snežnik plateau, June.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, Mt. Snežnik, June.
Alpine Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra, Mt. Snežnik, June.
Dunnock Prunella modularis, Mt. Snežnik, June.
Trumpet Gentian Gentiana clusii, Mt. Snežnik, June.
One of the thousands swarming wasps Amblyteles armatorius on top of Mt. Snežnik, June.
Illyrian Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus on the wet meadows of lake Cerknica, June.
Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata, Iška river valley, June.
Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna, Iška river valley, June.
Yellow Daylily Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus, Iška river valley, June.
Marbled Fritillary Brenthis daphne, Karst, July.
Ferulago campestris marking the start of summer in the Karst, July.
Lesser Purple Emperor Apatura ilia, Vipava valley, July.
Spiked Bellflower Campanula spicata, Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, July.
Astragalus carniolicus & Phyteuma scheuchzeri, Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, July.
Carniolan Lily Lilium carniolicum, Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, July.
Woodland Ringlet Erebia medusa & Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Hemaris fuciformis, Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, July.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis, Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, July.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, chick on the nest, Southern edge of Trnovski gozd, July.
Red Vanilla Orchid Nigritella miniata, Mt. Rodica, Julian Alps, July.
Wulfen's Primrose Primula wulfeniana, Mt. Rodica, Julian Alps, July.
Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus on Dragonmouth Horminum pyrenaicum, Mt. Rodica, Julian Alps, July.
Edelweiss Leontopodium alpinum & Dwarf Saussurea Saussurea pygmea, Mt. Rodica, Julian Alps, July.
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus, Mt. Rodica, Julian Alps, July.
Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
Pink Cinquefoil Potentilla nitida, Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
Julian Lousewort Pedicularis elongata julica, Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
Adder Vipera berus, Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
On the southern slopes of Mt. Vogel, Julian Alps, July.
The heart of the Julian Alps with Mt. Triglav, July.
Wild night out in the Dinaric mountains, July.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos, mother with cub, Mt. Snežnik, July.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus stag grazing at dawn, Mt. Snežnik, July.
Domen & his favourite beetle...
Alpine Longhorn Beetle Rosalia alpina, Rakitna plateau, July.
Balkan Goldenring Cordulegaster heros, Rakitna plateau, July.
Purple Emperor Apatura iris (by Silvio Davison), lake Cerknica, July.
Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus, Škocjanski zatok NR, August. 1st record for Slovenia and 3rd for the Western Palearctic!
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, juvenile, Škocjanski zatok NR, August.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Strunjan Landscape Park, August.
Summer escape to the extensive forests of Mt. Snežnik, August.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, August.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Mt. Snežnik, August.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Mt. Snežnik, August.
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris carrying a mushroom, Mt. Snežnik, August.
Selfie on the "mother beech", Mt. Snežnik, August.
In the wild heart of the Snežnik plateau, August.
Second trophy of the year (a Red Deer skull), Mt. Snežnik, August.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos (male & female), Mt. Snežnik, August. VIDEO
Summer night under the full moon, overlooking the gulf of Rijeka, Snežnik plateau, August.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus buck behind our house, Karst, August.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Pivka, August.
Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes, Javorniki Mts., August.
Dryad Minois dryas on Satureja subspicata liburnica, Pivka, August.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Javorniki Mts., August. A mother with 3 cubs crossed the road in front of our car.
Alpine Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra, Karst, September.
Autumn Lady's-tresses Spiranthes spiralis, Karst, September.
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, Škocjanski zatok NR, September.
Alpine Salamander Salamandra atra, Mt. Snežnik, September.
Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum, Mt. Snežnik, September.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus, Mt. Snežnik, September.
Fox Vulpes vulpes, Mt. Snežnik, October.
Magical autumn colours in the Dinaric forests, Mt. Snežnik, October.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis (dark-grey morph), Mt. Snežnik, October.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, November.
Autumn in the "Classical Karst" near Sežana, November.
Part of a flock of +800 Common Cranes Grus grus at lake Cerknica, November. VIDEO
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Pivka seasonal lakes, November.
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, Škocjanski zatok NR, November.
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, Karst, November.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, December.
Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes, Mt. Nanos, December.
See you in 2022!