Saturday 30 December 2023

Our 2023 field season

2023 has been somehow different than (all) the previous years. As you have certainly noticed, this blog was mostly silent. The main reason for that was lack of time, especially in the spring season, due to a tight working schedule involving many hours in the field. We also moved our regular posting to Twitter, where it was easier and quicker to share smaller "pills" of everyday life from the field, hence the lack of updates on this blog. And not to mention that in late spring we became parents to a little boy - WOW! So in summer we had to catch up with the new lifestyle and also had to adapt our field excursions a little bit! :-) Nevertheless, as we live in one of the most biodiverse regions of Europe (the Karst region of SW Slovenia), where nature is always within easy reach, 2023 was also packed with many exciting wildlife encounters. And what a better time to summarise all this than in our traditional year review? So here we are once again, at the end of the year. Enjoy this photo selection of our most memorable moments from the field and hopefully see you in the new year with some more posts from wild Slovenia!

Heavy snowfall in Trnovo forest (Trnovski gozd) in January.

Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Karst, February.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus in the forest behind our house, Karst, February.
Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, Škocjanski zatok, February.
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus on a frosty morning, Škocjanski zatok, February.
Searching for Wallcreeper, Karst edge, March.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria, Karst edge, March.
A very successful first group census of Eagle Owl in the Italian Karst co-organized by BirdLife partners LIPU & DOPPS.
Garganey Spatula querquedula, Škocjanski zatok, March.
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina, Cerkniško jezero, March. A rarity at the lake.
Moor Frog Rana arvalis in courtship colour, Ljubljansko barje, March. Old video of this phenomenon.
Snake's-head Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris, Ljubljansko barje, March.
Dog's-tooth Violet Erythronium dens-canis, Karst, March.
Christmas Rose Helleborus niger, Javorniki mountains, March.
Spring Snowflake Leucojum vernum, Javorniki mountains, March.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis hiding behind a twig, Javorniki mountains, March.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo female on the nest, Karst, March. We discovered this new nest in our local area.
Bear's Ear Primula auricula, Karst, March. An alpine glacial relict found rarely in some karstic dolinas.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans, Karst edge, April.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius, Karst, April.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Karst, April. A pair repeately observed on the same location on my forest transect.
On my transect for the Forest Bird Index census, Karst, April.
Hoopoe Upupa epops, Karst, April.
The joys of spring bird censuses in the Karst - wild asparagus Asparagus acutifolius for lunch!
Southern Festoon Zerynthia polyxena, Karst, April.
Eastern Eggar Eriogaster catax (caterpillars & nest on Prunus spinosa), Karst, April.
Skylark Alauda arvensis, Karst, April.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, Karst edge, April.
Nuthatch Sitta europaea nesting in the forest behind our house, Karst, April.
Poet's Narcissus Narcissus poeticus ssp. radiiflorus, Karst, April.
Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Karst, April.
Narrow-leaved Fritillary Fritillaria orientalis (tenella) on a frosty morning, Karst, April.
Ligurian Emperor Saturnia pavoniella, Karst, April.
Elder-flowered Orchid Dactylorhiza sambucina on a new locality for this species in the Karst, April.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik, April. Watching these two males fighting and chasing each other for one hour was one of 2023's absolute highlights (watch video).
Semicollared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata, Razdrto, May. A self-found 3rd record for Slovenia!
Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis, Razdrto, May. An annual rarity to W Slovenia, present on the same location as the Semicollared Flycatcher.
Oak-beech woodland in the flysch hills at the Karst's edge in May.
Henbane Bell Scopolia carniolica, Brkini hills, April. A very rare find (at a new locality) in this part of Slovenia.
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus on the nest in the forest behind our house, Karst, May. Video.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius on the nest, Karst, May. Video.
Late spring strolls in the karstic oak forest.
Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha during a great swarming event at Cerkniško jezero, May.
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra & Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Cerkniško jezero, May.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Lax-flowered Orchid Anacamptis laxiflora, Karst edge, May.
Cream-spot Tiger Arctia villica, Karst, May.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo chick on this year's newly discovered nest, Karst, May.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Karst, May.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus, Karst, May.
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus, Karst, May.
Roller Coracias garrulus, Karst, May. A long-awaited rarity on our local karstic meadows.
Narcissus-covered hay meadows, Karst, May.
Wild corners of the Karst in late May, when chlorophyll explodes - our favourite time of the year!
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Karst, May. Male (above) & female juv. in the nest (below). Video.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major chick in the nest, Karst, May.
Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae of an unusual red-brown morph, Karst, May.
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, Karst, May.
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, Karst, May.
Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, Škocjanski zatok, May.
Carniolan Lily Lilium carniolicum, Karst, May. A rare species in the "classical" lowland Karst, where we found this & several other specimens in bloom.
Jurinea Jurinea mollis, Karst, May.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus buck in the forest behind our house, Karst, June.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo chick in the nest on a tall oak behind our house, Karst, June.
Dittany Dictamnus albus, Karst, June.
Small-leaved Helleborine Epipactis microphylla, Karst, June. A lifer for us found during a walk in our neighbourhood.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Leiopicus medius in our garden, Karst, June. Surprisingly it was a regular visitor to the garden this year.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus on the neighbour's roof, Karst, June.
Woodlark Lullula arborea and cow, Karst, June.
Adriatic Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum adriaticum, Karst, June.
Forest Caterpillar Hunter Calosoma sycophanta with prey, Karst, June. In summer we enjoyed several of these specialised beetles in the old oak stands of Lipica.
Hoopoe Upupa epops, Karst, June.
Strolling in the parkland of Lipica, watching Hoopoes & looking for rare beetles, June.
High Brown Fritillary Argynnis adippe on flowering Small-leaved Lime Tilia cordata, Karst, June.
Marbled White Melanargia galathea on flowering Small-leaved Lime Tilia cordata, Karst, June.
Lesser Purple Emperor Apatura ilia, Brkini hills, June.
Hungarian Glider Neptis rivularis, Brkini hills, June.
Habitat of Hungarian Glider with larval feeding plant (Aruncus dioicus), Brkini hills, June.
Enjoying a forest stream in the Brkini hills, June.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Snežnik plateau, July.
Illyrian Gladiolus Gladiolus illyricus, Snežnik plateau, July.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia, Snežnik plateau, June.
On the limestone grasslands of Snežnik's southwestern slopes, July.
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax from the office window, Škocjanski zatok, July.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus fledgling from the office window, Škocjanski zatok, July.
European Tree Frog Hyla arborea bathing in the leaves of Dipsacus fullonum, Škocjanski zatok, July.
Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus ascening a tree in the summer evening, Karst, July.
Stag Beetle fever among Lipica's centenary oaks (Karst), July.
Great Capricorn Beetle Cerambyx cerdo before the evening take off from a tall oak, Lipica, July.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius feeding on a charred Black Pine Pinus nigra on the site of Slovenia's largest wildfire (2022) in the Karst, July. See blog.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major feeding on a charred Black Pine Pinus nigra on the site of Slovenia's largest wildfire (2022) in the Karst, July. Video.
Temnoscheila caerulea, a species of bark-gnawing beetle (family Trogossitidae) on a charred Black Pine Pinus nigra at the site of Karst's 2022 wildfire, July. Apparently only one of the very few records of this species for Slovenia. See blog.
The burned forests of Black Pine Pinus nigra in the Karst supported a surprising number & diversity of birds, feeding on a swarm of invertebrate "pests".
Life after death: lush blooms in spring after 2022's huge wildfire in the Karst.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Brkini hills, July. A pair observed singing in suitable habitat where also a potential nesting site was found. A very rare breeding bird in this part of Slovenia.
Beech Fagus sylvatica stand in the Brkini hills, where the pair of Ural Owls was observed.
Summer 2023 strolling in the Dinaric forest be like. Fortunately forest roads in Slovenia are excellent for this purpose!
Carabus croaticus, mount Snežnik, July. This snail-predating forest beetle is endemic to the Dinaric mountains.
Sawyer Beetle Monochamus sutor, mount Snežnik, July.
Justin's Bellflower Campanula justiniana, mount Snežnik, July. Another endemic of the Dinaric mountains.
Grecian Foxglove Digitalis laevigata, mount Snežnik, July.
Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata in a muddy puddle by the river Reka, July.
Dinaric forests of mount Snežnik in August.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, mount Snežnik, August.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca on migration, mount Snežnik, August.
Mt. Mali Snežnik (1694 m) from the bottom of Grda draga (an inversion dolina), August.
Cep Boletus edulis, mount Snežnik, August.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, mount Snežnik, August. One of 2 feeding together on the same snag. Video.
Ural Owl Strix uralensis, mount Snežnik, August.
Beech Longhorn Beetle Morimus funereus (with Cyclamen purpurascens in the background), Karst, August.
Domen's new 2023 field oufit.
Decaying beech Fagus sylvatica and a dolina within an old-growth forest reserve on mount Snežnik, August.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordi, mount Snežnik, August.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, southwestern slopes of Snežnik, August.
Extensive pasture creating biodiversity-rich limestone grassland in the Karst near Divača, August.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus grazing on the limestone grasslands on Snežnik's plateau, August.
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, mount Snežnik, August.
Amazing views from Snežnik plateau's SW slopes to the Reka valley & Brkini hills.
Evening wildlife spotting on the limestone grasslands of Snežnik's plateau, August.
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus above Sežana, August.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Postojna area, August. A new breeding site for the species in Slovenia, at the feet of mount Nanos, at around 600 m a.s.l. (the highest nest in Slovenia).
Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus (hen), Jelovica plateau, September.
Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus, Jelovica plateau, September. One of three that shared the same snag!
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, Škocjanski zatok, September.
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus from the office window at Škocjanski zatok in October. The 1st and only record for Slovenia!
Some new sort of birding...
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, flysch hills at the Karst's edge, October.
Autumn stroll in the karstic forest, November.
Fir Coral Tooth Fungus Hericium flagellum (alpestre), Kočevski Rog primeval forest, November.
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos, Kočevski Rog primeval forest, November.
Cauliflower Fungus Sparassis nemecii, Kočevski Rog primeval forest, November.
From inside a hollow Silver Fir Abies alba in the Kočevski Rog primeval forest, November.
Kočevski Rog primeval forest, November.
Cerkniško jezero & Javorniki mountains with a flock of Cranes Grus grus resting by the lake, November.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dryobates minor, Karst, December.