Friday, 14 November 2014

White-backed Woodpecker

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos ssp. lilfordi, Mt. Snežnik (Slovenia).
November is usually a very quiet month bird-wise, unless you go to look for something really special. White-backed Woodpecker IS special, so here I posted a couple more pics of this amazing and rare species (taken on Sunday).
Today I was out on the Karst and saw 2 Great Grey Shrikes Lanius excubitor and several Bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula, which were probably the day's highlight. I'm not really used to see them on the Karst. In fact they are quite scarce at low latitudes. But this autumn I already had one (a week ago). It may be a good winter for them. Yesterday also my first Rooks Corvus frugilegus of the winter season, in the lowlands of Friuli (NE Italy).

Sunday, 9 November 2014

White-back, Three-toe, Ural & more!

WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos leucotos ssp. lilfordi. Brilliant views of this male for more than 20 minutes as it fed and preened on a beech tree (video). Later it moved on the ground to "work" a rotten tree...and alongside it was...surprise:
THREE-TOED WOODPECKER Picoides tridactylus (female) feeding on a dead Norway spruce, just a few metres away from the White-backed Woodpecker!

URAL OWL Strix uralensis hunting in the middle of the day in a spruce forest. Perched in full view for several minutes and allowing a quite close approach.

Tawny Owl Strix aluco curiously attracted to the car's lights. Kept following the car for a while.

Excellent all-day birding in the Snežnik forests. Apart from the above, I also had a WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola (flying across a forest road and then perched on the ground in full view), a Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus and a Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor near Koritnice. And of course loads of common forest birds.

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus
Amazing views of a female THREE-TOED WOODPECKER Picoides tridactylus today in Trnovski gozd. First I heard it feeding, then I got closer and found it working a dead silver fir Abies alba. It wasn't disturbed by my presence and so it allowed close views for at least 45 minutes. It sometimes called shortly and also drummed once. Video below and here.
Three-toed Woodpecker habitat
Lots of other common birds in the forest, including a Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes & Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius.
At dusk a TENGMALM'S OWL Aegolius funereus delivered two short calls (squirrel-like), while an unexpected WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola made a short flight above a forest glade. This was my first Woodcock after several years (3 or 4 maybe), so I was quite glad to see one.
All in all an excellent day in one of my favourite places.
Good night

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Limestone Wallcreeper

The true limestone bird
Winter habitat of the Wallcreeper in the Glinščica/Val Rosandra nature reserve
Yesterday I went to the Glinščica valley (Val Rosandra) on the outskirts of Trieste. My target was the WALLCREEPER Tichodroma muraria which I almost immediately found, when I began scanning the limestone cliffs. It remained on view for a few minutes, showing off the beautiful crimson colours in its wings, before it suddenly disappeared. Shortly afterwards I located two ALPINE ACCENTORS Prunella collaris feeding on the grassy turfs under the cliffs.
These two species are usually found together in the winter months along the limestone cliffs of the Karstic edge. Both belong to the same breeding habitat in the alpine region and share the wintering sites as well. So it's always good to find both species on the same day.
Another very interesting sighting was that of a calling, fly-by BEARDED TIT Panurus biarmicus. Despite my effort I couldn't locate the bird. Bearded Tits are rare winter (and passage) visitors to the wetlands I use to visit in Italy and Slovenia, so I was pretty amazed to get this species on visible migration, outside its expected habitat.
Showy Crested Tits Lophophanes cristatus were performing in the pines as usual
One of the several Wrens Troglodytes troglodytes wintering in my local patch
Today I also had a female Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus in the garden, which was a nice change after the many (daily) sightings of Goldcrests Regulus regulus in the past weeks.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

In Brown Bear's kingdom

Welcome to the kingdom of bears
Krokar primary (virgin) forest in the fog
Predominant forest type with lots of conifers
Kočevska Reka
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius - female
Spent the whole weekend roving in the forests of Kočevje with a group of friends. The area represents the largest forest system in Slovenia and along with the Snežnik plateau and Gorski Kotar (in nearby Croatia) makes up one of the largest wilderness areas in Europe.
Highlights included a BROWN BEAR Ursus arctos seen at twilight on a forest glade, a confiding Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Grey-headed Picus canus & Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius and Peregrine Falco peregrinus.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Forests that just keep on giving...

Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius
Another sunny Sunday spent on the Snežnik plateau, this time including also a walk to the mountain's top (1796 m). Bird of the day was a MIDDLE SPOTTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos medius found by mistake when looking for Three-toeds in a conifer forest. Actually very odd to see a Middle Spot in this habitat. The bird was quite showy and vocal too.
Middle Spot on a Norway spruce Picea abies - unusual to see this bird on conifers
video here
A distant THREE-TOED WOODPECKER Picoides tridactylus was also heard (calling) and on the same spot there were also a Grey-headed Picus canus and 3 Black Woodpeckers Dryocopus martius.
Overall pretty much the same mix of forest birds as last Sunday, including several Bramblings Fringilla montifringilla and good passage of small passerines. Black Redstarts Phoenicurus ochruros were literally on every bush in the upper part of the mountain (something like +80 ind.).
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros - male (commoner than females)
Black Redstart female
Two or three RING OUZELS Turdus torquatus in the mountain pines Pinus mugo were a bonus species for the day. Just saw them briefly or heard them calling. At least one was a male.
Two unexpected raptors were a juvenile Hobby Falco subbuteo and a Peregrine Falco peregrinus. Both aggressively mobbed by the resident Ravens Corvus corax.
A nice sight were also 7 Ravens feeding on a fresh Roe Deer's carcass in the forest.
Lichens on a conifer
Mountain pine Pinus mugo
Small cliff face on Mali Snežnik (the "Lesser Snežnik")
A look eastwards from the mountain's top. Forests extending into Croatia as well. The cliffs above the Kolpa valley are visible.

Below a couple of shots from the past days, taken on the Karst. My new superzoom camera seems to be doing a good job.
Marsh Tit Poecile palustris
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius - female
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
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