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Post Info TOPIC: Croatia


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RE: Croatia


A beautiful week spent in Slatine close to Split and Trogir 26th May - 2nd June with family so not really a birding trip. However a few sightings noted:
Serins were singing and showing well around the villa all week. As was a Greenfinch and Blackbird.
Lots of Pallid Swifts were screaming around the pretty harbour village of Maslinica on the island of Solta
Hundreds of Common Swifts around Split.
Every night a Scops Owl called from woodland near the villa and on the last night a European Eagle Owl also called and a Nightjar was heard churring.
A fleeting distant falcon seen from the villa was either a Hobby or possible Eleonoras. Couldnt clinch a firm ID but it appeared to be chasing Swallows and Swifts. A Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel were the only other raptors seen.
Yellow-legged Gulls were common at the coast.
A day trip to the stunning Zrka National Park promised much but didnt really deliver but Great Reed Warblers and Cettis Warbler were heard singing from the boat along the river. A Grey Wagtail was seen at the waterfalls.
A Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, 2 Turtle Doves, a few Collared Doves and a Spotted Flycatcher were seen near the villa.
Common Terns and a Little Egret were seen from the ferry over to Split.
However the most unexpected sighting was a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver that spent the entire week just off shore from the villa just loafing around approximately 20 metres from the beach! Apparently a few over-winter in the Adriatic.

With a more concerted effort Croatia would certainly be a promising birding destination. But a beautiful, friendly place and highly recommended.


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Sorry this isn't too detailed, just an observation from passing through Croatia today. Driving from Rijeka past Zagreb and towards Belgrade, along the E70, there were a ridiculous number of buzzards along the way - usually sat on the fence posts between the road and the adjoining fields, but occasionally in flight or on the ground. At one point just before Slavonski Brod I kept myself distracted by counting them over a 5 minute period - I picked out 14 over the 5 minutes, which was approximately 10km if my calculations are correct. That was just on my side of the road, and I may well have missed some as I did look at the road occasionally. Shame I couldn't spend more time in the country, hopefully one day...

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Spent 11 days holidaying in southern Croatia, staying at Cavtat from 28th May to 8th June
Weather was sunny with a little cloud at times, up to 26 deg C in the afternoons. A relaxing and sightseeing holiday but had binoculars to hand most of the time.

Our room looked out across to Mrkan Island about 1km off shore, this is mainly a nature reserve and held 100s of nesting Yellow-legged Gulls and a large Swift colony of what appeared to be mainly Alpine Swift, these could be seen swirling in large numbers in the early morning before commuting over head to feed inland.
Other sightings from the hotel, small numbers of Shag, a couple of Caspian Terns and a small pod of Dolphins passed through. Lots of House Martins were nesting under the hotel balconies and 2 pairs of Spanish Sparrows were bringing food to nests in a planter adjacent to our balcony. A pair of Red-backed Shrike were seen occasionally in the hotel grounds along with White Wagtail, Common Swift, one or two possible Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Blackbirds. There were a few timid Red Squirrels that were actually black in colour.
A large raptor flew low over the restaurant balcony one evening chased by a handful of very agitated Yellow-legged Gulls. Disappointingly, one of very few raptors spotted during the whole stay and only seen briefly so unable to ID positively but probably a Common Buzzard.

On a late morning walk around the peninsular opposite the one the hotel is on (I think it is called Rat) a couple of Sardinian Warblers were having a territorial dispute, Red-backed Shrike again, Spotted Flycatcher and a Warbler seen very briefly picking through the shrubbery, having never knowingly seen either Olivaceous or Olive-tree it was only later on the trip when I had seen a few Olivaceous and got to be able to ID them that I came to the conclusion that it was probably an Olive-tree Warbler as it was much more heavy billed and strikingly larger than the Olivaceous Warblers.
We began to take a walk around this peninsular most evenings after dinner, this gave me the best sighting of the trip when a bird flew into a shadow cast by the lighting and made a couple of soft almost cooing calls, the flight style made me think it probably wasnt a dove so I walked over to where it had landed and found a Scops Owl watching me at eye level only 10 foot away in its classic alert posture with ear tufts erect. Not knowing much about this species it was quite a surprise to see how small they are, much smaller than Little Owl even.

On a hot day trip to Mostar the only Bee-eaters of the holiday were seen, another large raptor soaring along a high slope and lots of Red-backed Shrike, all seen from the coach on route. Blackcaps heard singing by the river in Mostar.

Not having been able to go and explore very far from the hotel in the mornings I decided to hire a car for a couple of days and managed to get out at dawn up to an area overlooking the resort where Rock Partridges are supposed to occur. Spent plenty of time scanning the slopes but there was no sight or sound for me. I think early May is perhaps the best period for seeing them going off the reports I had read. A Common Buzzard was heard and a Kestrel seen here also plenty of Black-headed Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear and a family of Blue Rock Thrush.
I spent a few hours up to 8:30 on 2 mornings in this area and at a village called Velji Do. The village was a fantastic area to wander, sit and listen from about 6:30am after scanning for the partridges. Nightingale and Cuckoo were heard here. Birds seen in and around the small village included Alpine Swift, Rock Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, Cirl Bunting, 1 Rock Nuthatch taking food into an abandoned garage, Blue Rock Thrush (singing from the pylons), Sombre Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Olivaceous Warbler (plenty of these around gathering food), Subalpine Warbler feeding fledglings, Orphean Warbler, 2 males seen squabbling and also a female foraging, Black-eared Wheatear both black and white throated morphs seen in equal numbers in the village and surrounding areas.
I found a concrete step to sit on for about an hour listening to the wonderful fluty song of the Golden Orioles, there seemed to be plenty around and was lucky to get some great if brief views as they flitted about the area, occasionally landing in full view until they realised they were being watched. It was interesting to hear what I thought was Jay initially but it soon became apparent that this was coming from the Orioles, this call and the song two more disparate sounds it would be difficult to think of.

I talked my Wife in to returning with me after breakfast to pick up the Ronald Brown Pathway and attempt to walk to the summit of the mountain. The birds had gone fairly quiet by 11am so we pressed on up the slope, however we contrived to miss the cut off to the right for the summit and continued on the level track. By this time the amount of butterflies was incredible of so many different varieties but also lots of other insects including a few dragonflies, large bees and flying beetles that were beginning to affect the Wifes equilibrium, after a couple of near misses she turned tail and scarpered back to the car toot sweet. I made a more leisurely descent trying to take in the sheer abundance of insect life. Fabulous to see and hear so much wildlife appearing to thrive.

This part of Croatia is beautiful, the sea crystal clear with plenty to see and do, Dubrovnik stunning if a little overcrowded. I think the northern areas of the country would be better for birdwatching as down in this area everything is hemmed in by mountains and with the border of BIH being very close habitat variety is limited but it is always nice to see different species of birds in their natural habitat.


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I have just got back from a week's holiday in Croatia. The theme was history and culture rather than birding, but I still managed some memorable birding moments.

Around our hotels near Split and Dubrovnik, there were plenty of Red-backed Shrike in the coastal woodlands.

In the Krka National Park, I saw a Great Reed Warbler.

On a day trip into Bosnia, there was a male and female pair of Hen Harriers hunting over a rural valley. By the historic bridge in Mostar, we first heard a nightingale in a riverside bush, then saw it come down to have a bath at the river's edge.

On a day trip into Montenegro, there were 20 Ravens circling the mountaintop over the fortress of Kotor - now doesn't that sound like a scenario from a sword and sorcery novel??

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Sunday 9th of June 2013 09:56:00 PM

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I went back to Jarun to thrash the woodland where I saw the Collared Flycatcher and hoped for further migration - I was to do well. The temperatures were at a balmy 21 so it was crawling with cyclists people and kamikaze rollerbladers (this place is popular with them) but I was to focus on thrashing the woodland further afield - I hit the jackpot in one which seemed replete with NIGHTINGALES affording me good views of this lifer species - there were at least three seen with many more heard, and as I was scanning the scrub, another lifer, a WRYNECK leapt just feet away.

Other birds seen were Serin x 2, plus a total of 5 Pied Flycatchers, and tonnes of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers etc.

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Hi John
Your Collared flycatcher was a great find, thats one bird that I have never seen. I'm back in Croatia in June for a holiday so I will have to stay away from the pool and get some birding done.
Regards.

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After a four-day break because of flu and the weekend (which I spend usually with my GF) I wrapped up and headed back to Jarun - it's a beautiful sunny, warm day at about 15 degrees, the ground drying out - the lake wasn't what I'd call interesting for birds, but the woodland is - no Hoopoe, but the highlight was a M COLLARED FLYCATCHER a lifer; also a M Pied Flycatcher - a lifer as well. several Spotted Flycatchers, Blackcaps, Chiffchaff heard,
A stunning M Sparrowhawk was around.

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A visit to Maximir Park today in steady rain yielded - 1 Jay, 8 Hawfinch, lots of Chaffinches, Nuthatches, Siskins, some Blackcaps and Black Redstarts, a singing Tree Pipit,
Chiffchaffs and many Green Woodpeckers heard, plus a Middle Spotted Woodpecker visited the feeding station - which was two 5 litre plastic bottles with holes cut out of them!

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I decided to have a birthday birdwatch and selected Lake Jarun, another urban lake - problematic was proving the weather - cold and damp, as it has been the main of the trip.
But I was in for a happy birthday surprise when a Hoopoe showed briefly - a lifer for me. Migration was further evident with masses of Blackcaps around, but nothing more exotic. Further, Black Redstarts were everywhere in the piece of flooded wood I was focussing on.

Yesterday, I had my first ever Crested Lark in the car park of an out-pf-town mall - praying for a turn in weather!

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Reading your reports John has encouraged me to write up on one of my trips to Croatia on a holiday some three years ago.

Staying in Cavtat, I ventured out to the village of Gruda, approximately 15km south of Cavtat, (accessible by bus). Just outside the village and to the north east toward the hills there are some football fields. I parked here in the hire car making my way back to the bridge where I had passed over a creek. Walking alongside the creek I came across my first lifer of the day, a little bittern. Excited by this I began exploring the area. Continuing inland along the road and passed the restaurant Konavoski Dvori (easily recognizable with its water wheel), I came across yellow wagtail and a singing bird that I could not see as it was hidden in the foliage of a tree. A little further uphill I made my way off the road and a short way along a track. On the edge of someones garden I came upon a subalpine warbler, my second lifer of the day. Really pleased with myself. I have returned to the location since but not been as fortunate.

My first trip to Croatia, I spent six months living in a tent within the deep sea port of Ploce. I have returned many times since and the country never fails me. Also over the border into BiH. Some good sites there also, Montagus Harrier in the Cazin and Livno areas. Some good walking in and around Velika Kladusa which is just over the BiH border.

Reading yours and Daves reports on Croatia, I have some catching up to do. Havent yet completed the Ronald Brown Pathway but I did get black headed bunting (lifer) just outside Cavtat. Like you John, I have sat in the hide on the northern side of Crow Lake for two days, (black wing stint). Heard but not seen, Scoops owl while staying in a farmhouse in Svetvincenat.
Some other lifers:

Crested lark dockside Ploce
Olivaceous warbler Pula
Pygmy cormorant Crow Lake
Glossy ibis Crow Lake
Ferruginous duck Crna Mlaka
Turtle dove Primosten
Alpine swift Cavtat
Cirl bunting - Cavtat
Hoopoe Hvar
Red-backed shrike


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Look forward to reading your reports John. I've spent lots of time in Croatia and love the place.

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Cheers Kevin - I've heard good things about Crna Mlaka but it's not really in public transport reach and I don't get the idea of wardens throwing people off but I don't fancy going there for that! I am obviously clued up on the major birding sites as I had studied it extensively; I may head to Lonjsko Polke this time around if I am lucky!

-- Edited by John Doherty on Wednesday 27th of March 2013 02:50:23 PM

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Heads up John should you head to Crno Mlaka (Black Moss) near Jasterbrasko. It is promoted as being a "birding site however on the three occasions that I have visited I have been thrown off by the warden. Not before I saw Great Reed Warbler and Sea Eagle I must say. Should you be looking for ideas for places to visit there are Muljava, Petrova gora (black woodpecker), Paklanica (blue rock thrush), and Lonjsko Polje where the female storks may be arriving. I my last visit the area had suffered a drought for many months and the locals were feeling it.

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Highlights from Bundek Lake and the Sava banks today, my first outing in Zagreb this trip. When I landed there was a bad bout of snow (Monday) but today it's thawing, though it stands at over a foot in places.

There were a good few bits and pieces of waterfowl on the lagoon-like lake - A cracking Garganey pair, three male Shovelers and a drake Teal.
In the trees were 2 x Hawfinches, 2 Treesparrows, and a male Blackcap, so good signs of migrants - this was further fostered by the sighting of a seperate M and F Black Redstart sighting, and there were loads of Water Pipits around and a female Whinchat showed ridiculously well near the larger of the lakes as it reverted between the snow and the stony foreshore.

As I climbed the stairs to the bridge over the Sava another M Blackcap was six feet away drinking from the dew droplets from the grass!
On the route back I had two Kestrels



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Some nice little reports there John. Makes for interesting reading. Well done on your lifers.

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A great end to a great birding trip was had in Zagreb today- I was headed for Hrelic, the large flea market on the banks of the Sava river.
I left home at 6 praying that the recent heavy rain had cleared - it had - else I wouldn't have bothered. Not far from home I had my first lifer. Several NUTCRACKERS.
I headed down to Lake Bundek, a suburban lake, not knowinbg how much had been sapped up by he summer. The outer lakes had formed some patchy lagoons , where lurked a single Little Egret, so not bad.
I bought a binocular case - a snip at about a pound, I knocked the bloke down from double that in his own language
Headed to the main flea market area and had a good browse. Tried to get some camoflague stuff, standard birder uniform, but non would fit
Then going along the river there is a sizable flood plain with scattered dead trees - it yielded:

At least three Hobbies, including a juvenile, some who had a go at the Hooded Crows. Smashing views.
A couple of Kestrels

Parkland contained several Hawfinches, lots of Nuthatch, good views of Middle-Spotted Woodpecker, one of a pair chasing one another.

So all in all a great trip.




-- Edited by John Doherty on Sunday 2nd of September 2012 01:52:08 PM

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One last effort in Pula. Some fantastic stuff seen, including two lifers:

Spent six hours+ from sunrise in the forests and just behind the orchards outside town. This yielded: Sombre Tit (lifer) lots of Woodpeckers including at least 1 Middle-Spotted, and the usual Great-Spotted; About six Green Woodpeckers heard only (doubtful they were Grey-headed as Collins claims the range isn't inclusive of the Istrian Peninsular, but on the rest of wider Croatia)
Hard work in the scrub produced a M Sardinian Warbler, several Olivaceous Warblers, a Garden Warbler,a F Blackcap, plus a M E.Orphean Warbler (nearly seen all the non-British typical species now in the two years)

Best of the rest: Wood Warbler, Sparrowhawk, Spotted Flycatcher loads, Jays all over.





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I had a sift through the many Great and Blue Tits around the same patch and into the pine woods again today, before the 10am 'curfew' when the birds go quiet

Aside from the aforementioned typical Warblers, I had a Subalpine Warbler vocal, 2 Serins, 2 Spotted Flycatchers.
Probably my penultimate outing.

Cheers.

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Today I was up at 7am to go over some scrubland outside the Pula centre - a good choice as it was heaving!
I can describe the patch as a orchard/allotment bordered by a hedge and surrounded by forest and open land and more taller trees.
The lifers this morning were Redstart, a pair in the hedge, male shot in, the female coming out to the tree to feed; a Middle-spotted Woodpecker was in the scrub and occasionally drumming faintly; I finally confirmed Olivaceous Warbler here, sure I had it the other day.
Other birds about were Lesser Whitethroat, a Golden Oriole singing with both lungs in the distance, several Spotted Flycatchers and Melodious Warblers.
As the heat got up I hung around a forest for a bit, and heard the loud taunting call of what could either have been Green or Grey-headed Woodpecker in several places, missing the sighting.
A good day in all.


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Hi folks, I'm still birding, battling heat way past 30 degrees - there's a long drought, hosepipe ban, and local state of crisis declared. Next to nothing is around past ten am and it's been tough, but I've had some good finds in week two:

I tried a local park which had a bit of water on the ground from some local works early in the week - a Serin (lifer) was in the shade on the grass, along with Chaffinches and Pied Wagtails. Wood Warblers occupied a tree, but the pick was when a female Hawfinch (lifer) came down from a pine to drink from the puddle.

The next day I went out I focussed on the harbour - and got eight Common Terns. A few Hooded Crows were around, too, plus the seemingly-resident Common Sandpiper pair.

The third birding day, today, patrolling farmland paid off as I got my first ever Cirl Bunting, a pair.
Finally, a search of a wood near the sea turned up a Melodious Warbler.
I also saw some Red Squirrels today!



-- Edited by John Doherty on Thursday 23rd of August 2012 10:21:12 AM

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Just began a month-long holiday in Croatia. Week One: It's thirty plus every day here in Pula, so birding is slow and passarines elusive despite me checking a variety of habitats. Nonetheless there's been some decent sightings -

Golden Oriole, Red-Backed Shrike, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher (both lifers, having evaded me in the UK) Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-legged Gull, from three outings.

A good stint was spent watching a juvenile Grey Heron in a stream off the main sea. As I was doing so a few Common Sandpipers (probably passage birds) plus a Kingfisher were around!

Week Two awaits!

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Thanks John

I will be visiting Croatia next year and I also intend to spend sometime birding in Montenegro again. Hopefully the Rock partridge will put in an appearance

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Cheers, Dave, right you are I saw some good things, but I was totally unprepared in terms of not planning where to go and I did have little time (had to juggle my wife too) so all's well end's well. Needless to say therefore I didn't see Rock Partridge - would have been good to have climbed a mountain to search for it, Wallcreeper, Rock Nuthatch, even Alpine swift, but not this time!
I know that you visit Croatia and love it so maybe next summer or when you come over next I can show you around some places and if you ever need advice on Cro birding I am confident that my research is now good enough to warrant passing that on.



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Hi John
You have seen some cracking birds there in the last 5 weeks and I have read your reports with interest. Here's to my next visit in 2012 when hopefully I will find the elusive Rock partridge.
Best wishes


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Still birding- recent sightings

Cormorant (over)Spotted Flycatcher, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker (all near the Sava in Zagreb) - plus one snake (possible Black Adder?) which crawled from the smelliest stream I'd ever seen.


Finally now wraps up my five week trip:

Highlights in five weeks:

Lifers- Golden Oriole, Black Winged Stilt, Sardinian and Icterine Warbler, Great Egret, Beeater, Yellow Legged Gull, Woodchat Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Pygmy Cormorant, Hooded Crow.




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One last birdwatch in Croatia down the Sava in Zagreb - I'd been to the large flea market, which lies on the shadow of a huge dump.

This produced:

Kestrel
Single Little Egret
Six Grey Heron
Lots of Treesparrow





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Last post rounds up my trip - I extended it by five days but I won't go birdwatching anymore - looking forward to Lonsko Polje in winter, though :P

Maksimir Park, yesterday morning:

Literally 100 + Nuthatches
Lots of Tree Sparrow, Great Tit, Blue, some Chaffinch etc, some just on the ground in flocks, feet away!!
Grey Herons on the lakes, but not much else except ducks
Hooded Crows.

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Nearly ending my five-week trip and I am back in Zagreb. If this wasn't a social trip I would have gone birding more frequently, but I'm not disappointed, and the country is always going to be here - there's a programme right this second on Croatian TV and it's featuring wetlands - not sure where but it looks mega!

One last shot tomorrow will see me travel to Maxsimir Park right opposite the Dinamo Zagreb stadium - it's a large park, but smaller than Heaton Park. It contains five lakes and I may not get to see them all, but I hope to see something exotic!

Cheers, Jon


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Today I had a quick look round a dense woodland near Pula mid-morning and was mightily impressed - Great Spotted Woodpeckers were around (might be all kinds of exotic kinds in there) and Wood, Icterine and Sardinian Warbler, and the usual common Great Tits, Blackbirds etc etc.
Unfortunately, the ground had suffered a fire recently :/

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I thought I'd add a bit of detail about Vransko Lake since I have proper internet access now - all of the birds referred to have been noted in previous posts of mine on this thread, just thought I'd go in-depth.

Vransko Lake means 'Crow Lake' and I'm not surprised - hundreds of Hooded Crows live nearby in the fields - there's many telephone wires crossing farmland which they visit. Collared Dove is EXTREMELY common in this country and so they also appear on the wires, as do Swallow which can be found in major numbers, and, last but not least, various Shrikes and even other birds i.e Siskin, Goldfinch.
The lake itself is the largest in Croatia. Not very deep at 5 metres, either. I was based in a place called Biograd, some 5 miles away, meaning I would have to go there on foot and back two out of my three visits.

The reserve is based in the North Western corner which luckily was the closest corner to my base ;) It is based near a camp, meaning anyone can wander on to it, worryingly a lot of dog walkers - I suggest a fence, and would do to the correct authorities. The bulk of birds are along the shore closest to the camp - this included lots of Gulls, Little Egrets, 1 Great Egret, Common Sandpipers, Cormorant, one or two Redshank, handfuls of Pygmy Cormorant and Black-winged Stilt as per my three visits.

I also made it beyond this shore to the viewing tower, which is literally just that - a wooden tower. However, the range of birds here was limited to just Coots - it's a wide, grassy portion of the lake and I knew that Purple and Squacco Heron would prefer here :)
Which leads me to say that Vransko is the only breeding site on the Med for Purple Heron, not that I had a glimpse :/

The surrounding farmland which I referred to is a notorious dumping ground - several abandoned farms and lots of wide, scrubby fields can be found. Here, on the way back from one of my visits to Vransko, I had my first decent few hours birding, as my brief report a few posts back suggested - though it was noon I had quite a few birds including Siskin, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike, Beeaters were all over, as were Treesparrow - I had a lone Sardianian Warbler, too.

I know Vransko would be a treat in winter and luckily my girlfriend's parents have a house nearby so I might get that chance soon.

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BBC tells me it's 36 degrees herein Pula today, and it feels like it. I stepped out briefly, but nothing of note - Great Tits, lots of Jays, Hooded Crows, Magpies etc etc.

It's a good opportunity for me to outline the background of my birding in Croatia so far - I'm here on social duty more than as a birding holiday, so I 'break free' when I can - otherwise I am sure I would increase my species-count vastly, not to say I am disappointed so far!
I need to spend more early mornings out, I reckon.

Jon

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Recent stuff: The 'usuals' and new sightings including Yellowhammer and Turtle Dove (both Dalmatia) - I'm now based in Pula, Istria, Croatia, but haven't had the chance to bird yet.

-- Edited by John Doherty on Thursday 18th of August 2011 04:47:56 PM

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So much to cram in and little time!

I have had the pleasure and luck of taking in many sites so far when I could - including three visits to Vransko Lake, where we're based not far from at the moment. I've also birded in woods near the coast, and Krka National Park.
Today was the standout birding day in Croatia so far - approx five Golden Orioles in a wood outside Vransko Lake, and there were more in woods near the lake itself. On the lake today were Little Egret, Pygmy Cormorant, Black Winged Stilt - on the way home I had a Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat and Redback Shrikes, Beeaters, Treesparrow, Hooded Crow Goldfinches and Siskin.

Beeateaters and Shrikes were common in the woods near our house - I saw
Rock Dove live in Krka National Park, seen from the boat.

Other things seen so far - Yellowlegged Gull, Skylark, Great Egret (as mentioned)

I have two more weeks remaining and I am due to Pula by boat tomorrow.

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Highlights, week 1 in Croatia - Little Egret, Red-backed shrike, Great Egret, Black-winged Stilt - in-depth report to follow:) 3 and a half weeks left.

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Croatia, summer 2011 - Day 1 31st July

Zagreb:

Using Zagreb to begin my tour I decided to walk down the Sava river towards a lake I knew of - Bundek Lake.
I didn't have much time today, but all the same it's my first flavour of foreign birding.

Lots of Hooded Crows were around (lifer for me), as well as some Goldfinch and Great Tit. Lots of Sandmartin on the river, with mallard and plenty of Moorhen on the lake.
Going home I spotted Starlings, a Female Siskin in a tree and then I arrived at a car park in the middle of blocks of flats where I was surprised to hear a Woodpecker of some description on the other side - by the time I went across it had either flown or wasn't calling anymore so couldn't be found.

I'll update this regularly - things will really hot up as I am Dalmatia-bound very soon.



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Hi Dave - great post. As you know I'm lucky enough to have visited Croatia about a dozen times owing to the fact my lovely fiancee is from there, I know the language, love the country etc - God knows what I have missed as all of the times it was when I was a non-birder (I picked the hobby up in April) and I am now well versed in what can be spotted there- thanks for the report.
I leave Manchester on Thursday on the start of a five-week (I hope) trip kicking off in Dalmatia and then Pula, Istria. I shall try and squeeze as much birdwatching in and will be compiling a report.

Cheers

Jon

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Keep calm and carry on birding....


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Enjoyed reading your report dave sounded like a good trip.

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I have just spent a pleasant week holidaying in Cavtat just across the bay from Dubrovnik in Southern Croatia. Cavtat is a small fishing village on a large Pine covered peninsula called Setaliste rat between two small bays. Behind the village there is plenty of farmland which leads to scrub land on the slopes of a mountain called Strazisce which is over 700m high.

I have visited this area before and my target bird has always been a Rock Partridge which are supposed to live on the mountain range so early one morning I set off walking from my hotel [ the aptly named Albatros] and made my way to the start of the Ronald Brown pathway [ google it] which takes you up the mountain.

The first bird that I saw had me stumped for a while on its id, it was like a brown jay with a spotted chest and a black bar across the white tail. It flew low over my head twice as I realised from looking at my Collins guide that I had just seen a Nutcracker

Other birds seen on the walk up were 2 Turtle doves, Nuthatch, 2 Hooded crows and lots of House Martins, Swifts and around 30 Alpine swifts. The RB pathway is very steep in places, a very rugged landscape with plenty of rocks, scrub and lots of wild flowers. Over the next hour I saw 2 Blue rock thrush, 2 Rock Nuthatch, Buzzard, Kestrel, Chaffinch, 3 Hooded crows and a quick glimpse of a Wheatear which was probably a Black eared wheatear. I watched a Wren carrying food dive into a small pile of rocks nearby so I went over to have a look. I couldn't see the Wren but under the stones was a large black Adder which was not too happy with me. I know that there are over 15 species of snakes found in Croatia so I was a bit more careful on where I placed my feet as I went looking for the Rock partridge.

There is hardly any cover or trees along this pathway and it was getting seriously hot. I was probably only about 25 minutes from the next village of Velji do so I sat down and watched the slopes for any sign of Partridge. Apart from the occasional call of a Buzzard it was absolute quietness, hardly any movement and no wind. I found an old small piece of Tortoise shell mixed in with the stones. When I was a kid and used to visit the old Yugoslavia I always found Hermann's Tortoise living wild in the Pine forests and scrub lands. They are now very rare.

I noticed another bloke walking down the path towards me who turned out to be Ernst from Germany who's main interest was in butterflies and flowers but was also a keen birder. He told me that he had never seen a Rock Partridge on any of his visits to the area. With that I decided to walk back down to Cavtat with Ernst , the only other birds of note seen was a Black Redstart along the path and 2 Red backed shrikes near the road.

Every day I walked around the large peninsula called Setaliste rat, it has a pathway around which has the sea on one side and dense Pine woods on the other. There are a couple of villas, a 2000 year old remains of a Roman villa and on top a Mausoleum with a small graveyard next to it. Red backed shrikes are the most common bird seen along this walk. I watched them hunting for lizards which were sunning themselves on the walls as the shrike watched from above. Cracking Yellow legged gulls sat on the rocks beside the sea. Other birds seen in this area were Gold, Green and Chaffinch, Blue and Great tits. While looking at the old Roman villa remains I noticed what looked like a washed out Willow tit , different shades of grey on its wings and breast and a black bib and cap. Out came the Collins again and I was looking at a Sombre tit. I saw 2 more later that day further down the path.

On top of the peninsular is a mausoleum and graveyard, its quite high up and its the first time that I have watched Alpine swifts, Swallows and House martins from looking down on them as they swooped over the pine woods. RB Shrikes perched on top of the memorials very close to where we were sitting and I watched one catch a large beetle.

On the way back down to the village a Hoopoe was sat in the middle of a children's play area and I found my first warbler of the trip when a Whitethroat sang from an orange tree.

I would have seen more birds if I had got up a lot earlier before the temperature went up. It was just too hot to leave the pool

I have a lovely memory from this trip. A pair of House martins had built a nest above our balcony door and I could watch them from about a metre away taking food into their chicks. Over two hours early Friday morning the chicks started to leave the nest, the first two just shot out of the nest, the third fell out on to the balcony and I picked it up and placed it on the back of a chair. One of the parents came down to feed it in front of me then the little chick flew up and away. The forth chick left later that afternoon. Interestingly the parents kept returning to the nest site for the next two days.

I have to say that Croatia is one of my favourite places to vist and luckily for me it gets better each time I go



-- Edited by Dave Thacker on Tuesday 12th of July 2011 03:45:28 PM

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