Tuesday 27 December 2022

2022 in Wild Slovenia

Another biodiversity-rich and wildlife-filled year has gone by. Our routine field activities have brought us to many wonderful places, most of them close to home, in the Karst and the Notranjska region of Slovenia. However this year we also spent more time abroad. In April and May we censused rare woodpeckers in the primeval forests of Plitvice National Park in Croatia. In June we went to enjoy some Lammergeiers in the Austrian Alps. In mid August I (Domen) visited Norway on a work trip, with some amazing wildlife seen along the way. And finally in early September we made a road trip to Montenegro, visiting the country's national parks, enjoying great sceneries and finding lots of interesting stuff. However we still haven't found time for detailed trip reports...
As usual, most of early spring was dedicated to censusing woodpeckers, especially Middle Spotted and White-backed, but also Three-toed later in the season. In late spring and early summer, field activity was concentrated in the Karst's limestone grasslands, either counting breeding birds or monitoring rare species such as Ortolan Bunting. Surely one of the year's highlights was seeing seven Brown Bears in one day, while searching (unsuccesfully) for nests of White-backed Woodpecker!
Time for writing blogs this year has considerably shrunk, hence we also moved most of our regular (daily or so) posting to Twitter. Not sure what the new year will bring in terms of free time. Make sure to follow us, either here or there, also in the future. In the meantime, enjoy this selection from our field activities in 2022!

Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus, Rače fishponds, January.
Catching an Eagle Owl Bubo bubo for satellite-tagging, with my colleague Tomaž Mihelič in the Karst, January.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria, Karst edge, January.
Winter in the karstic forest.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Javorniki Mts., February.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Snežnik, February.
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, Cerkniško jezero, February.
Common Crane Grus grus, Karst, February.
Footprints of Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Snežnik, February.
Finding a Red Deer's antler, Snežnik, February.
Mountain beech forest on mount Snežnik, February.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Karst, March.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Karst, March.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, March.
Surveying the habitat of Middle Spotted Woodpecker in the Karst in March.
Snake's-head Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris, Ljubljansko barje, March.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Škocjanski zatok NR, 11th March. Probably the species' earliest spring record for Slovenia.
European Tree Frog Hyla arborea, Škocjanski zatok NR, March.
Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Škocjanski zatok NR, April.
Black-throated Divers Gavia arctica in breeding plumage, on the sea at Strunjan in April.
April snow at Cerkniško jezero and on the Javorniki mountains.
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena, Cerkniško jezero, April. Very rare (extinct?) breeder in Slovenia.
Carniolan Bee Apis mellifera carnica on Christmas Rose Helleborus niger, Cerkniško jezero, April.
Taking Touty on a White-back's hunt on Snežnik (under a hailstorm) in April.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Snežnik, April. Video.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Snežnik, April.
Mountain beech forest with carpet of Wild Garlic Allium ursinum on Snežnik in April.
Spending spring in the forest meant Wild Garlic Allium ursinum was regularly added to daily meals.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos eating grass by the road, Snežnik, April.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, Snežnik, April.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia, Snežnik, April.
Birding the SW slopes of Snežnik's plateau in May.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Snežnik, May.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus, Snežnik, May.
Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Snežnik, May. Mother with 3 cubs.
Adder Vipera berus bosniensis (male), Snežnik, May. Video.
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris, Snežnik, May.
Fox Vulpes vulpes, Snežnik, May.
Beech Fagus sylvatica, Snežnik, May.
Hacquetia Hacquetia epipactis, Karst, April.
Spring counts in the flysch hills at the edge of the Karst, May.
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, SW slopes of Snežnik, April.
Egg-laying Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, Brkini hills, April.
Fire-bellied Toad Bombina variegata, Brkini hills, April.
Pale-flowered Orchid Orchis pallens, Karst, April.
Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio & Poet's Narcissus Narcissus poeticus, Karst, April.
Fly Orchid Ophrys insectifera, Karst, May.
Ophrys sulcata, Karst edge, May.
Lady Orchid Orchis purpurea, Istria, April.
Southern Festoon Zerinthia polyxena, Karst, April.
Birding the Karst's dry grasslands in April.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Karst, April.
Hoopoe Upupa epops, Karst, April.
Sessile Oaks Quercus petraea in the Karst in late April.
Our local Cuckoo Cuculus canorus in the woodland behind the house, Karst, May.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis after a morning bath in a muddy puddle, Karst, May.
Centenary silver fir Abies alba in the primeval forest reserve at Plitvice NP (Croatia) in May.
Counting woodpeckers in the primeval forest at Plitvice National Park (Croatia), May.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Plitvice National Park (Croatia), May.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Plitvice National Park (Croatia), April.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Plitvice National Park (Croatia), May.
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis, Plitvice National Park (Croatia), May.
Alpine Salamander Salamandra atra, Jelovica plateau, May.
"Cigar" of Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus during the species' census on the Jelovica plateau, May.
Paeonia daurica, Karst, May.
Dittany Dictamnus albus & Feather Grass Stipa eriocaulis on a Karst's dry limestone grassland, May.
Jurinea mollis, Karst edge, May.
Skylark Alauda arvensis, Karst edge, May.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Karst edge, May.
Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria, Karst, May.
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana, Karst edge, May. One of the only 2 pairs remaining in Slovenia.
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Karst edge, May.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, Karst edge, June.
Great Sooty Satyr Satyrus ferula, Karst edge, June.
Carniolan Burnet Zygaena carniolica, Karst edge, June.
Smoke-bush Cotinus coggygria in seed, Karst edge, June.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor, Cerkniško jezero, May.
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus, Cerkniško jezero, May.
On the dry mountain grasslands of Nanos in late May - one of our favourite places of all!
White Asphodel Asphodelus albus & Kojnik's Iris Iris sibirica erirrhiza, Nanos, May.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, Nanos, May.
Carniolan Lily Lilium carniolicum, Nanos, May.
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, Nanos, May.
Geranium Argus Aricia eumedon, Nanos, May.
Alpine Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra, Nanos, May.
Wild Garlic (Ramsons) Allium ursinum, Nanos, May.
Looking for Red-breasted Flycatcher in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps in June.
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva, Kamnik-Savinja Alps, June.
Dawn in the Karst's hay meadows - counting breeding birds in early June.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Karst, June.
Juvenile Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, June.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus, Karst, June.
Centenary Lime Tilia platyphyllos, Karst, June.
Karstic oak forest in early June.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix holding territory in the flysch hills near the Karst in July.
Pair of Little Bitterns Ixobrychus minutus at Škocjanski zatok (from the office window) in June.
Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata, flysch hills, July.
White-clawed Crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes, flysch hills, July.
Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta, Karst, July.
Apollo Parnassius apollo, Trnovski gozd, July.
Erebia stirius, Erebia ligea & Satyrus ferula, Trnovski gozd, July. Video (with 90K views!)
Summer widlife safari in the Karst.
In July we spent a few days in the forests of Kočevje, with no current water, electricity and phone signal.
Primeval forest of Rajhenavski rog near Kočevje.
Melanistic Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Kočevski rog, July. Pic by Davide Scridel.
Alpine Longhorn Beetle Rosalia alpina, Kočevsko, July.
Alpine Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra, Kočevsko, July.
Purple Emperor Apatura iris, Kočevsko, July.
Alpine Longhorn Beetle Rosalia alpina, Javorniki Mts., July.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Javorniki Mts., July.
Melanistic Adder Vipera berus, Snežnik, July.
Edelweiss Leontopodium alpinum, Snežnik, July.
Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Škocjanski zatok NR, July. The species' first documented record for the reserve.
Mammal watching on Javorniki's SW slopes in July.
Zois' Bellflower Campanula zoysii, Kanin (Julian Alps), August.
Papaver alpinum rhaeticum (yellow) & Papaver alpinum ernesti-mayeri (white), Kanin (Julian Alps), August.
Pink Cinquefoil Potentilla nitida, Kanin (Julian Alps), August.
Alpine Ibex Capra ibex, Kanin (Julian Alps), August.
On the high-altitude limestone pavements of Kanin, August.
Camping next to the dormouse-infested bivouac on Breginjski Stol, August.
Alpine Longhorn Beetle Rosalia alpina, Breginjski Stol (Julian Alps), August.
Snorkeling in the river Nadiža, at the feet of mount Breginjski Stol in August.
Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia f. valesina, Snežnik, August.
Alpine Salamander Salamandra atra prenjensis, Snežnik, August.
Spurge Hawk-moth Hyles euphorbiae, Karst, August.
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, Škocjanski zatok NR, September.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Škocjanski zatok NR, September.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus, Karst, September. Enjoying the rutting season very close to home.
Autumn Lady's-tresses Spiranthes spiralis, Karst, September.
Fir Coral Tooth Fungus Hericium alpestre, Snežnik, September.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Javorniki Mts., October. Video.
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica, Karst, October. Pair close to an active nest (very rare breeder in Slovenia)
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, October. A "km 0" Middle Spot! The first observation of the species in the woodland behind our house.
Autumn colours in the mountain beech forests of Snežnik in early October.
Tinder Fungus Fomes fomentarius, Snežnik, October.
Melanistic Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Kočevsko, November. Pics by Matteo Skodler.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Snežnik, October.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Trnovski gozd, November. Video.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria, Karst, October.
Common Crane Grus grus, Škocjanski zatok NR, November.
Dipper Cinclus cinclus, river Unica, November.
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, flysch hills at the edge of the Karst, December.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Karst, December.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, December.