Thursday, 18 December 2014

Golden Eagles

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos with some villages from the Vipava valley in the background.
A look north-west towards the Trnovski gozd plateau and the Julian Alps.
Mighty Triglav in the distance - excellent visibility today!
Alpine Chamoise Rupicapra rupicapra sunbathing on the scree.
Good sunny day on the grassy slopes of Nanos edge. The pair of GOLDEN EAGLES Aquila chrysaetos was of course the main attraction. They took off together from some cliffs under my "watchpoint" and suddenly appeared in front of me, soaring close-by. I could see the golden crown on naked eye only.
Apart from that I was happy with my first flock of Fieldfares Turdus pilaris of the season (5 birds). Also around some Siskins Carduelis spinus, a Bullfnch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, small flocks of Crossbill Loxia curvirostra, 2 Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius (one "crossed" the road), a male Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus and two Ravens Corvus corax.
Five Alpine Chamoises Rupicapra rupicapra were resting down in a scree.
All in all a typical winter Nanos scene.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Trnovski gozd

Abieti-Fagetum dinaricum - Dinaric forest of beech and silver fir
Fagetum subalpinum dinaricum - subalpine beech forest on Mali Golak
Beech Fagus sylvatica
Norway Spruce forest (Piceetum) at Smrečje
Crossbills Loxia curvirostra
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
Ice-covered higher parts of the forest, with the village of Predmeja in the front.
Alpine Accentors Prunella collaris
A pleasant walk in sunny Trnovski gozd on Friday. Concentrated mainly around Mali Golak (1492 m - the highest mountain on the plateau). On the bird front mainly common forest birds: especially lots of Crossbills Loxia curvirostra, a Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula ect. The highlight was a flock of 7 ALPINE ACCENTORS Prunella collaris on the rocky slopes of mount Čaven (southern edge of Trnovski gozd).

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Sardinian Warbler in the garden!

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
A gorgeous male SARDINIAN WARBLER Sylvia melanocephala, today in the garden. Showed well for most of the afternoon on evergreen bushes and it was quite vocal too. 
Not right a typical garden bird, although I had it a few times before in winter.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wallcreepers at Škocjanske jame

Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
Velika Dolina - the biggest doline in the Karst (164 m deep) with the river Reka running on the bottom. One Wallcreeper was usually seen on the large cliff faces to the right.
The village of Betanja, with part of the "Wallcreeper cliffs" and mt. Snežnik in the distance.
The Snežnik plateau. Snežnik actually means "snowy mountain"...and today it was.
Crisp, sunny and cold day on the Karst. I visited the limestone cliffs at the Škocjan caves (Škocjanske jame) which produced two WALLCREEPERS Tichodroma muraria, four Ravens Corvus corax, a few Rock Buntings Emberiza cia and little else. The area is a known wintering site for Wallcreepers, where there's a lot of good habitat for the species. Actually a Wallcreeper winter paradise.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Reedbed birds

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus - male
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus - female
Harriers going to roost
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Reedbed kingdom by the river Isonzo/Soča. In the distance the rocky coast west of Trieste with the Karst plateau above it and the Trnovski gozd mountain range in the far back.
Mt. Triglav in the distance (highest mountain in Slovenia)
Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica
Even if the weather looked promising for something else, today I ventured to the coastal wetlands with a couple of friends. It was a nice, almost wind-less and partly sunny day, but with not many highlights. Birds of note were mainly reedbed-based: 3 MOUSTACHED WARBLERS Acrocephalus melanopogon at Lisert (showing well), Penduline Tits Remiz pendulinus (+20 tot), Reed Buntings Emberiza schoeniclus, Water Rails Rallus aquaticus (+10) and tons of Cetti's Warblers Cettia cetti. We looked hard for Bearded Tit in several places, but without success. In the evening we had a nice Circus spectacle at Caneo (river Isonzo/Soča estuary) where up to 10 Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus (5 m & 5 f) and 7-8 Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus (both sexes) gathered in the vast reedbed roost. At dusk two or three owls flew briefly in front of our car's headlights, most probably Long-eared Owls Asio otus.
On the sea at Lisert also a Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata and 2 days ago at Miramare 2 Black-throated Divers Gavia arctica (above).

Friday, 5 December 2014

SNOW BUNTING in the patch!

Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis (1st winter)
Found the above SNOW BUNTING Plectrophenax nivalis this morning at Miramare (Trieste) in my local patch. A local mega and in totally unexpected habitat: feeding on the ground on the busy castle's courtyard. Lots of people passing by at a few metres, oblivious of the rarity they had at their feet. Amazing bird - 163rd species for the patch list. Also probably a first for Trieste.

I was actually there to have a look at the sea. It revealed a Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena, a flying Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata, some Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis and a Kingfisher Alcedo atthis. Some adult Shags Phalacrocorax aristotelis were also present; already showing their distinctive breeding-plumage crest.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Late autumn gloom

Sub-urban Crested Larks Galerida cristata in Koper
Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
Female Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula on the Karst (feeding on common privet Ligustrum vulgare)
Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra
Mt. Nanos in the long-gone autumn sunshine
A few pics from the last couple of weeks around the Karst and beyond. The weather's quite bad these days, with a lot of rain and a cold northeasterly wind. Not good for birding.
Today I was briefly in Škocjanski zatok, where I took the above Crested Larks Galerida cristata. Two birds were feeding on the car par, right next to the main road. Another two were in the town of Koper, on a roundabout in urban environment (3 metres away from the car). I used to see these birds quite frequently along motorways and sub-urban roads in Koper, but now they seemed a bit decreased. They really like places like building sites and wasteland and that's maybe the reason why I saw them in Škocjanski zatok. The reserve is now closed to the public as there are works going on to build the new infrastructure: visitor centre, new car park and new hides. Overall most of the freshwater marsh is dry and birds concentrate in the lagoon. But still, there are quite few birds around. Highlights included two Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis, a Shelduck Tadorna tadorna and some screaming Water Rails Rallus aquaticus in the reedbeds. Very few ducks in general.
Today I also checked the Slovenian sea near Ankaran and saw 3 species of grebes, including Black-necked Podiceps nigricollis, some Red-breasted Mergansers Mergus serrator, a Curlew Numenius arquata, a few Dunlins Calidris alpina and 8 Sandwich Terns Sterna sandvicensis.
Some days ago I had a female Goshawk Accipiter gentilis in my local patch (digesting its meal on a tree), but otherwise nothing too special.
It's not even winter yet and I'm already dreaming about spring...roll on.
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