Birds, bears, butterflies and blooms with the arrival of spring in Slovenia

This year I led two different Naturetrek tours, one in May and one in June, in the south-western corner of Slovenia, following directly the arrival of spring, going from the left of the last snow, to the end of hibernation time for bears, to the bloom of meadows covered by innumerable flowers.

After the winter scouting (link), I went there the second half of spring, when the area was affected by heavy rain that falled the majority of the days, making the landscapes incredibly attractive and green, but reducing often the quantity of available light for the photography and hindering the field activities. The May trip was also influenced buy an unusual cold, with a light snowfall that whitened the surrounding hills.

Despite the weather conditions, the two trips were both successful, the first because of great birding (including the observations of Black Stork, White-tailed Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Ural Owl and Corn Crake) and the second mainly because of the beauty of flowered meadows with amazing numbers of butterflies and orchids.

I had Brown Bears (Ursus arctos) from the comfortable Miha Mlakar hides (https://www.facebook.com/miha.mlakar) on both the trips, getting better observations during the June trip, but also an unexpected Wild Cat (Felis silvestris) and Red Deers (Cervus elaphus). Some night excursions by car allowed the view of other cool species of mammals like Northern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus), Beech Marten (Martes foina) and Badger (Meles meles).

Both the tours, beside the Cerknica lake, Planinsko Polje, Snežnik and the Bloke Plateau, included the visit to the fascinating Križna jama, a cave that was decided to be left as much as possible natural, without any permanent artificial light and with a limited number of visitors each year: this choice was awarded by the survival of troglodyte species, like bats and interesting invertebrates, now disappeared in more touristic complexes like the Postojnska jama.

A small moth trap was settled twice outside the pension where I slept, in Markovec, having a very good harvest in June.

This photo-report wants to share once again the beauty of Slovenia in its multiple natural aspects, showing the pics in strict chronological order.


EARLY MAY TOUR

Very late snowfall on the hills
Very late snowfall (5 May 2019) on the hills
Bucolic landscape of Planinsko Polje
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Herb-paris (Paris quadrifolia)
Youngster of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Toothwort (Lathraea cfr. squamaria)
Water Avens (Geum rivale)
Early marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata var. haematodes )
Common Heath (Ematurga atomaria)
Common Cave-cricket (Troglophilus cavicola)
Reflective colonies of bacteria on the ceiling of Križna cave
Hibernating Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
Stalactites inside the Križna cave
Floor of the Križna cave
Funny anthropomorphic figure on a limestone
Tau Emperor (Aglia tau)
Purple Gromwell (Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum)
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus)
Female of Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus)
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum)
Cerknica lake
Tall Violet (Viola elatior)
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Eastern Green Lizard (Lacerta viridis)
Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), exhausted because of the bad weather
Marsh Horsetail (Equisetum cfr. palustris)
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
Nursery-web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis)
Green-winged Orchid (Anacamptis morio)
Trefoil Bittercress (Cardamine trifolia)
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
The Beech (Fagus sylvatica) woodland of Racna gora
Pullus of Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Cerknica lake, a view to the southern side
Cerknica lake, a view to the northern side
Pardosa cfr. saltans
Sand Rock-cress (Arabidopsis arenosa)
Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium alternifolium)
The little bridge over the stream Rak
A liverwort (Marchantia sp.)
A spurge (Euphorbia carniolica)
Caterpillar of Scarlet Tiger (Callimorpha dominula)
A vetch (Vicia oroboides)
Green-veined White (Pieris napi)
Micropterix cfr. schaefferi
Firecrests (Regulus ignicapillus)


MID JUNE TOUR

Purple Bar (Cosmorhoe ocellata)
White Campion (Silene latifolia)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Dark Rampion (Phyteuma ovatum)
Bladder Gentian (Gentiana utriculosa)
Great Masterwort (Astrantia major)
Carniolan Lily (Lilium carniolicum)
A rampion (Phyteuma cfr. zahlbruckneri
A froghopper (Cercopis cfr. vulnerata)
Clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne)
Grass-leaved Flag (Iris graminea)
White Asphodel (Asphodelus albus)
Large Speedwell (Veronica cfr. austriaca)
A weevil (Liparus cfr. coronatus)
Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria)
July Belle (Scotopteryx luridata)
Common Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)
Lesser Butterfly-orchid (Platanthera bifolia)
Female of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) with two cubs
Cub of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Female of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
The “kiss” of a cub to its mother
Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Male of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Male of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Male of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Barberry Carpet (Pareulype berberata)
White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda)
Scorched Carpet (Ligdia adustata)
Pine-tree Lappet (Dendrolimus pini)
Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae f. brunnea)
Scarce Hook-tip (Sabra harpagula)
Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus) and Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor)
Died and moldy Tissue Moth (Triphosa dubitata) inside the Križna cave
Cave Millipede (Brachydesmus inferus)
Križna cave
Stalactites of the Križna cave
Križna cave
Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)
Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
Lesser Pearl (Sitochroa verticalis)
False Heath Fritillary (Melitaea diamina)
Lesser Marbled Fritillary (Brenthis ino)
White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)
Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo)
Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)
Ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)
Bog Orchid (Anacamptis palustris)
Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata var. haematodes)
Black-veined Whites (Aporia crataegi)
Red Deers (Cervus elaphus)
Youngster of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)
Bank Vole (Myodes glareolus)
Sunset in the Babno Polje
Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)
Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe)
Bath Asparagus (Ornithogalum cfr. pyrenaicum)
Martagon Lily (Lilium martagon)
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Lesser Butterfly-orchid (Platanthera bifolia)
Woodland Brown (Lopinga achine)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea f. helice)
Bog Orchid (Anacamptis palustris)
Marbled White (Melanargia galathea f. procida)
Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus cfr. illyricus)
Dyer’s Greenweed (Genista cfr. tinctoria)
Common Hedgenettle (Betonica officinalis)
Dropwort (Filipendula cfr. vulgaris)
Common Toad (Bufo bufo)
Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
Northern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus)
Ural Owl (Strix uralensis)
Ural Owl (Strix uralensis)
Orange Lily (Lilium bulbiferum)
Common Drill (Dichrorampha cfr. petiverella)
Burnt-tip Orchid (Neotinea ustulata)
Fragrant Orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea var. alba)
Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata)
Peacock (Aglais io)
Bulgarian Columbine (Aquilegia cfr. nigricans)
Mazarine Blue (Cyaniris semiargus)
Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina)
Globe-flowered Orchid (Traunsteinera globosa)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Yellow Melancholy Thistle (Cirsium erisithales)
Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Clossiana euphrosyne)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jays (Garrulus glandarius)
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Yellow Foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora)
Clustered Broom (Cytisus cfr. hirsutus)

Luca Boscain

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