Thursday, May 16, 2019

πŸ“– BIRDING CROATIA 2019 πŸ‡­πŸ‡· ~ DAY 10/11

⛅️20C Wednesday 15th May 2019 ~ Thankfully the Bura wind had finally dissipated to produce a reasonably calm and mostly sunny day. A shorter morning walk than normal and a few additions to the local sightings with Common Whitethroat, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff and Olivaceous Warbler, which I thought I'd heard the other day but never managed to connect with.

Red-backed Shrike ~ Such wonderful birds to see each morning.
After breakfast, we headed off to Paklenica National Park, known for the dramatic canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica, plus karst rock formations and black-pine forests. The park is also home to bears but I think its highly unlikely we'll see any today!

Stunning scenery at Paklenica

It was a tough day which included a gruelling 10-mile hike and frankly for little reward on the birding front! The scenery was incredibly stunning as you would imagine but this is a real tourist attraction and the largest rock climbing centre in Croatia, so disruption is unavoidable. We did manage a few highlights which included Black Redstart, Rock Thrush and a flyby Mountain Apollo Butterfly but it was surprisingly devoid of Raptors and Woodpeckers in the huge forested areas. I suspect we would have had to walk many more miles to achieve our target birds today.

Elusive Eastern Orphean Warbler
☀️22C Thursday 16th April 2019 ~ An enjoyable but frustrating morning walk today! An Eastern Orphean Warbler was singing well but kept on the move and would not offer itself up for a decent photo! I also had some good scoped views of a Collared Flycatcher from the house but when I walked back to investigate I couldn't locate it again. However, this may well have been the result of a Red-Footed Falcon, which seemed very active this morning!

Vransko Lake boardwalk
It was our 10th wedding anniversary today and Dazza chose another visit to Vransko Lake to celebrate, which we visited on day one of our stay, but unlike then it wasn't blowing a hoolie. In fact, It was a glorious day, the best thus far with a pleasant breeze and comfortable 22C.

White-Winged Tern ~ From the boardwalk.
We began at the Crkvina Information Centre which has a wooden walkway looking out to the lake with 4 observation areas. As before there were a number of Pygmy Cormorant, which breeds here and plenty on the wing with White-Winged Tern, Whiskered Tern and Common Tern.

Great Reed Warbler occasionally making an appearance
The Reedbed was overwhelmed with the grating call of Great Reed Warbler but Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Marsh Warbler could be heard over the din. Other species of note during our stay included Great EgretLittle Egret, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron and Little Bittern.

This Little Bittern gave us a surprise around one corner! 
From here we spent the remainder of the day offroad driving the many tracks, stopping occasionally for a walk. It was a memorable day and I've listed the notables below, along with a few more photographs.

Photos of the Day...

Pygmy Cormorant

Little Bittern

Montagu's Harrier

Blue Rock Thrush

Species of Note Today...

Rock Partridge, Grey Partridge, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Goshawk, Kestrel, Red-Footed Falcon, Eleonora's Falcon, Grey Plover, Yellow-Legged Gull, Common Tern, White-Winged Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Bee-Eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-Rumped Swallow, House Martin, Tawny Pipit, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Raven, Hooded Crow, Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Linnet, Ortolan Bunting, Black-Headed Bunting, Corn Bunting

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

πŸ“– BIRDING CROATIA 2019 πŸ‡­πŸ‡· ~ DAY 9

πŸ’¨πŸŒ§⛅️2C Tuesday 14th May 2019 ~ It was difficult to sleep last night as the Bura winds hit at around 8pm and the house got battered. In fact, it was still raging when I eventually got up around 5:30am and I spent the first half hour gathering the garden furniture, which was strewn all over!

One of Dazzas responsibilities during our stay
While here Dazza has become a surrogate mother to 6 Hermann's Tortoise which the house owner Anita rescued from a wildfire last year and thankfully a quick check revealed all was good as they were well tucked up under their hay beds in the tortoise compound. As usual, Dazza's thrown herself completely into the job and is spoiling them rotten.

Once again I forwent my morning walk and Dazza and I discussed our best options over breakfast. The Bura was on for the day and the further south-west we went the better our chances of escaping these damaging localised winds. It was on the bucket list to hop over the border to Bosnia Herzegovina at some stage, so with the raging wind, we decided to head off crossing the border at Strmica a small village in the Knin Municipality. It's a long time since I've crossed a hard border by road but we had the necessary paperwork from the car hire company and the border control was pretty painless as we were the only car. From here our plan was to drive across to lake BuΕ‘ko Blato before heading back across the border at Kemensko.

We did in effect escape the worst of the winds and most birding was done from within the car, with the odd short walk mainly at around 3,500ft with the temperature hovering around freezing. However, the weather was dry and bright for the most part and the birding was excellent but not many photos of the day.

Photos of the Day...

Record shot of Whinchat

Northern Wheatear

Lesser Grey Shrike (one of two today)

Spotted Flycatcher

Notable Species for the Day...

Short-toed Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Rock Dove, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Bee-Eater, Skylark, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Crag Martin, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Blue Rock Thrush, Northern Wheatear, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Jay, Raven, Golden Oriole, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting, Black-headed Bunting.

πŸ“– BIRDING CROATIA 2019 πŸ‡­πŸ‡· ~ DAY 7/8

It seems that our second week here in Croatia is likely to be a very disrupted one as a major weather event beckons! Not so much the torrential rain already causing flooding in the NW of the country, we've already experienced this but specifically, the wind known as a 'bura'.

In Dalmatia, the sky can get clogged with a haze that makes the islands barely visible. Bura comes in and wipes the sky clean. However, every once in a while, there is Ε‘trokav bura, or dirty bura, that happens during rainstorms. Bura can reach speeds of 220 km (136 miles) per hour but has been clocked as high as 304 km (189 miles) per hour, hurricane force. Apparently, it is most common blowing down from the mountains on the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea where it flows mainly from the northeast through gaps in the Dinaric Alps.

πŸŒ§πŸ’¨8C Sunday 12th May 2019 ~ No 'bura' yet but the torrential rains hit once more! Again we decided to take a drive out along the coast and basically bird from the car, mainly around the Sibenik area. Surprisingly there were a few highlights, one being the amazing sight of six Red-footed Falcons downed in the rain. The birds were lined up along fencing and below is a hand-held video from the car window while the rain was pouring in.

As you can imagine we didn't stay out long but one other highlight included a mixture of several Whinchat and Stonechat also grounded.

Photo's of the Day... 

A few stills from the video

These guys were thoroughly soaked!

πŸŒ§πŸ’¨10C Monday 13th May 2019 ~ More torrential rains but thankfully sightseeing in Split, although we did get a little wet. The 'bura' has hit overnight and currently (Tuesday 14th) galeforce winds are battering the house!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

πŸ“– BIRDING CROATIA 2019 πŸ‡­πŸ‡· ~ DAY 6

☀️☁️22C Saturday 11th May 2019 ~ Today was a rare event thus far, two consecutive days of blue skies, although it did cloud over late afternoon and the rain came overnight.

My new birding friend ~ Not the Hedgehog!
I was up and out just after sunrise and now I have a new friend to accompany me! Not sure where he comes from but he's well behaved, very affectionate and sniffs out certain wildlife, although he stayed well clear of his most recent find.

Black-headed Bunting
The now regular birds were all enjoying the morning sun with plenty of Barn Swallows washing down in a nearby puddle. I seem to add to the local list each day and another new find was when the above Black-headed Bunting suddenly appeared and began to sing, a wonderful experience. I even managed an excellent sound recording of him for my files.  There seemed to be more birds around today, probably the lovely sunshine and by the time I got back for breakfast I was actually in double figures for Red-backed Shrike. I've also discovered that the Black-eared Wheatear singing right outside the door a few days back has a mate and it looks like they may be nesting nearby.

Red-backed Shrike ~ Plenty within the locality
Being just on the outskirts of the Krka National Park, one of eight throughout Croatia we decided to spend the day driving the many off-road tracks, parking up and taking long walks in-between. It was a particularly warm day so lots more than just birds on the wing. The most popular Dragonfly is the Scarce Chaser, which seemed to be everywhere we parked. A wonderful array of Butterflies too included: Glanville FritillaryOrange Tip, Brimstone, Adonis Blue, Common Blue, Brown Argus, Scarce Swallowtail, Swallowtail, Silver-studded Blue, Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper, Grizzled Skipper, Southern Speckled Wood, Small Heath, Wall Brown and Southern White Admiral.

Montpellier Snake
The usual Dalmatian Wall Lizards were scurrying around the undergrowth but the best was the mildly venomous Montpellier Snake which scurried across the track in front of us.

The birding was more quality than quantity with the highlights a Goshawk carrying prey and a Bonelli's Eagle, which flew low over the treetops. We did manage to hear a distant Olive-tree Warbler, another bird which like the Great Reed Warbler has a gruff, raucous voice but annoyingly never managed to connect.

Photos of the Day...

Probably a very pale Granville Fritillary


Scarce Swallowtail

Adonis Blue
Spotted Flycatcher

Spanish Sparrow

My new birding buddy!
Notable Bird Species Seen Today...

Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Bonelli's Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Goshawk, Kestrel, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-Eater, Hoopoe, Short-toed Lark, Barn Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Nightingale, Blackcap, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler (h), Spotted Flycatcher, Raven, Hooded Crow, Golden Oriole, Cirl Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Corn Bunting, Black-headed Bunting

Friday, May 10, 2019

πŸ“– BIRDING CROATIA 2019 πŸ‡­πŸ‡· ~ DAY 4/5

πŸŒ§πŸ’¨ 10C Thursday 9th May 2019 ~ Today we awoke to torrential rain and another hoolie blowing so there was no point even attempting my morning walk.

Blue Rock Thrush ~ Odd to see one perched alongside a reedbed.
However, not to be defeated we took a drive out mid-morning to Lake Peruća and the surrounding meadows about an hours drive and just short of the Bosnia & Herzegovina border. Although we probably spent the entire time birding from the car we did manage to hear a few interesting species which included Quail, Corncrake and Great Reed Warbler. I also managed to get the above photo of a Blue Rock Thrush which we were surprised to find perched alongside a reedbed. A few raptors braved the conditions with Common Buzzard and Black Kite noted.

☀️22C Friday 10th May 2019 ~ The weather here can be quite fickle it seems and after yesterday's complete washout today was a beautiful 22C in cloudless skies. The morning walk was very pleasant with the usual Woodlarks, Cuckoo's, Hoopoe and Corn Buntings singing away along with the grating of many Eastern Subalpine Warblers, which are very common here.

Eastern Orphean Warbler
The first new bird of interest was located by song and having heard many Western Orphean Warblers in Spain this was different. Using my earpiece I nailed it as an Eastern Orphean Warbler and after a while managed to obtain a few record shots.

Spanish Sparrow must have lost his way 🀣
Two more Black-eared Wheater, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, Tawny Pipit, Turtle Dove and (11) Bee-eaters, which passed overhead calling before I got back to the house, where a Spanish Sparrow was busy at his nest.

Pag Bridge
After breakfast, some sightseeing and a drive out to Pag Island in the Adriatic Sea, which can be reached by a short bridge. It’s known for its barren, moonlike landscape and cheese but of course, there are few places to stop for some birding.

This female Montagu's was one of eight!
It is an amazing place to visit but strangely devoid of many coastal birds such as wading and in particular sea birds. That said the few marsh areas we stopped off at did provide some highlights, including no less than eight Montagu's Harriers over the reedbed at once, including two males.

Photos of the day...

Tawny Pipit

Yellow-belted Burnet

Montagu's Harrier

Great Egret

Species for the Day...

Shelduck, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Coot, Lapwing, Greenshank, Whiskered Tern, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Common Swift, Bee-Eater, Hoopoe, Skylark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Nightingale, Blackbird, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Raven, Starling, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

πŸ“– BIRDING CROATIA 2019 πŸ‡­πŸ‡· ~ DAY 3

Day 3 ⛅️19Wednesday 8th May 2019 ~ I was up around 6am today but with the house-owner dropping wood chip off for the heating around 7am I decided to forego my morning walk and catch up on some blogging. It was a beautiful if not chilly morning with no wind and a clear blue sky.

Black-eared Wheater ~ A great start to my day.
After the owner departed I decided to have a coffee and some toast on the terrace. As I was pouring the coffee you can imagine my surprise when I heard a Black-eared Wheatear, best described as a speeded-up Whitethroat singing right outside the door! It was literally perched in the tree yards away, the above photo was taken from the doorway.

Waterfalls at Roski slap ~ Part of Krka National Park
After yesterdays epic sightseeing event we decided to stay closer to home today and drove the relatively short distance, just 20kms to Roski Slap Waterfalls and Krka River. The waterfalls are stunning and a range of high cliffs protrude all around. We took the 8km walk (sadly not circular) which skirts the lake and the many reedbeds and woodland. There were several Great Reed Warblers, their gruff, croaking voice echoing all around the reeds. Nightingales, Golden Orioles and Turtle Doves could be heard regularly during the walk. However, the highlight of the day came when we were alerted to a presumed Sparrowhawk harassing a Raven, which was obviously nesting nearby. The observation was difficult at first as the birds were high and almost in direct sunlight but this bird appeared more falcon-like! Thankfully as the bird turned away black wing tips were clearly evident and the tail markings rather sparse as the bird dropped rapidly I was positive this was, in fact, a Levant Sparrowhawk, which nests in this region of the National Park.

Southern White Admiral
It wasn't all about the birds today with Lizards scurrying around the undergrowth and many Butterflies and Dragonflies on the wing in the now warm sunshine.

Photos of the Day...

Dalmatian Wall Lizard

Scarce Chaser ~ Common around the river today.

Black-eared Wheatear ~ Another from this morning 
Red-backed Shrike

Cuckoos back at the house ~ Never quite mated but close!
Golden Oriole ~ A nightmare to photograph but Dazza did well

A Timely reminder when walking the scrubland that its only two decades ago this country was a war!

Notable Species Seen...

Goosander, Great Cormorant, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Spotted Crake, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Bee-Eater, Woodlark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Crag Martin, House Martin, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Nightingale, Black-eared Wheatear, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Jay, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Hooded Crow, Raven, Golden Oriole, Chaffinch, Linnet Serin, Cirl Bunting.