LANIUS BIRD TOURS. CROATIA Spring on the Dalmatian Coast 7 th - 14 th May 2014

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1 LANIUS BIRD TOURS CROATIA Spring on the Dalmatian Coast 7 th - 14 th May 2014 Leader Dave Read Local Guide Robert Crnković Participants Christopher & Christine Watkinson Mick & Ann Daubney Richard Ness Paul Bateman Mick Howes

2 ITINERARY Day 1 07/05/2014 Our day started early with a 06:05 flight from Gatwick to Split, arriving more or less on time at 09:20 local time. Once there we were greeted by Andrej Pogačić, the local agent who helped organise the tour as well as local guide Robert Crnković. Introductions over and we were soon on our way towards Zadar without delay. The first part of the journey didn t offer much other than Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Short-toed Eagle; however a stop for a coffee and snacks produced several Pallid Swifts and our first Red-backed Shrike. We then drove to the Canyon of the River Krupa, stopping first at a scenic spot where the views into the canyon were certainly impressive, although many of the birds were distant. Highlights included a male Sub-alpine Warbler which gave good views and a Raven low overhead. Continuing, we moved to the Krupa Monastery, a beautiful spot where we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along part of the river. Highlights here included good views of up to 12 European Bee-eaters, the first of many Turtle Doves, a distant male Golden Oriole, a singing Wood Warbler and a few Serin. Moving back along the canyon we walked down to a cave where we were treated to close views of a pair of nesting Crag Martins. A Rock Nuthatch was also nesting in the cave though the female remained in the nest out of sight and the male did not make an appearance. Several stunning Black-eared Wheatears were noted however and another male Golden Oriole was found. We then transferred directly to Zadar, noting a male Montagu s Harrier by the roadside on the way. Once in Zadar we checked into the Hotel Donat, our base for two nights. 2

3 Day 2 08/05/2014 Today we awoke to rain, though with the forecast predicting it would clear we continued as planned to spend the full day on the Island of Pag. Once there first impressions were of a rather barren, almost lunar landscape, however we were soon to discover it held a wealth of birdlife. Our first stop was made just above the abandoned saltpans, which produced several species of waders, Black-winged Stilt being the most obvious along with Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank and both Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers. A flock of c12 Squacco Herons dropped in, while the fields behind held three Glossy Ibis and several Little Egrets. Other notable birds here included Whinchat, Tawny Pipit, Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike and Corn Bunting; however the highlight was without doubt a Rock Partridge, which showed well on top of a stone wall. By now the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through. We moved a little further along the road before pulling up to scan Velo Blato, a large freshwater wetland which produced several interesting species. Pygmy Cormorant was soon added with a count of 46 birds, while others noted on the lake included Great-crested & Black-necked Grebes, Garganey and Coot. Purple Heron and Marsh Harrier were noted in flight over the lake, while an immature Golden Eagle soared over a nearby hillside. The surrounding rocky fields held Short-toed Lark, Northern Wheatear as well several more Whinchats, while our first Little Owl was also seen. Moving to the northern shore we added Sedge Warbler and Moorhen, as well as a flock of c30 Yellow Wagtails and a further three Pygmy Cormorants which gave much closer views than those previously. A quick stop at a large reedbed nearby produced several Montagu s Harriers along with a single Marsh Harrier and a distant Griffon Vulture. Lunch consisted of a very nice pizza at one of the waterfront restaurants in the picturesque Town of Pag. Afterward as we walked back to the minibus an Icterine Warbler was found in a small park. In the north of the island we visited Kolansko Blato, noting our first Great White Egret along the way. Once there a selection of waders was again noted, including two Grey Plover, two Curlew Sandpiper, two Spotted Redshank and three Little Stint. On our way back to the main road a number of new species were added from the van including Pheasant and both Great Reed & Willow Warblers. With our visit to Pag over we returned to Zadar, but not before quickly checking the Nin Saltpans which provided us with our only Little Terns. Dinner was taken at the hotel before driving the short distance to the old town where we enjoyed a stroll around the centre, where as well as seeing a few of the sights we were able to sample some local beers. 3

4 Day 3 09/05/2014 Today we headed south from Zadar towards Varansko National Park, home of Croatia s largest freshwater lake. On arrival we headed straight for the adjacent hills, choosing to visit the lake later in the day when the light would be better for viewing. Initially the birdlife was a little quiet, with only a few Sup-alpine Warblers and a flock of Bee-eaters of note, however the views from the top were truly stunning and more than made up for the shortage of birds. See front cover image. Then we walked down the Mednjaća Canyon, where birds included a pair of Rock Partridge which flushed from almost under our feet, Blue Rock Thrush, Raven and several more Sub-alpine Warblers. Nearing the end of the canyon we reached a cross roads by the lake where our first Black-headed Bunting gave good views. Other highlights included Eastern Orphean Warbler and Cirl Bunting. From there we drove down a long track running parallel to the lakeshore, which again offered spectacular scenery. A quick stop was made to check an area of farmland for Roller but without success, before moving to Pakistane where we enjoyed another very nice pizza for lunch. Afterwards we headed to Vransko Lake, home to the countries largest breeding colony of Pygmy Cormorants. Once there we soon realised that part of the boardwalk that we intended to walk along was flooded, but nonetheless we managed to add a male Little Bittern in flight, a flock of Ruff, two Common Tern and a few Blackheaded gulls to the list. A little further around the lake access to a hide was possible so we took a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk and spent some time there. Sightings included both Purple & Squacco Herons and Great Reed Warbler. We were also entertained by a Montagu s Harrier mobbing a Marsh Harrier. Later we checked into the Hotel Imperial in Vodice a little earlier than usual, taking the opportunity for a short break and a drink before our meal, after which we again ventured out, this time on foot into the town where we sat on the marina and enjoyed a further drink or two before returning to the hotel. 4

5 Day 4 10/05/2014 The majority of the day was spent in and around the Krka National Park, with our first stop at Pokrovnik, a stony plateau home to breeding Stone Curlew and both Calandra & Short-toed Larks. The latter two both gave good views as did Tawny Pipit, though sadly Stone Curlew once more went unseen. Next we moved to a nearby site where our target, Olive-tree Warbler was easily added with two singing birds present. We then spent some time at a viewpoint overlooking the Goriš Canyon (see below) an incredible spot from where the views were truly spectacular. As if this wasn t enough we got to watch up to three Golden Orioles flying out over the lake and dipping into the water before returning to a dead tree to preen. With time now approaching midday we decided to have a coffee stop at a particularly nice café before heading into the Park, making a few more stops to admire the incredible scenery of the Krka Canyon on the way. Once in the park we visited Roški Slap, see opposite top image, where birdlife was in fact a little disappointing. The sheer beauty of the area however, with its many fast flowing waterfalls and rich woodland was enough to compensate for any lack of birds. Many Beautiful Demoiselle were also present here, see opposite middle. Lunch was then taken in the town of Skradin before re-entering the park and visiting the more famous falls at Skradinski buk, see opposite bottom. Once again the falls were nothing short of breathtaking and more than lived up to their reputation. A single Red Squirrel gave good views here and was the only mammal of note during the entire tour. With time now approaching 5:30 pm we decided to head straight to our next hotel in the town of Stobreč, on the outskirts of Split. On arrival we checked into the Hotel Zvonimir, where we enjoyed a few beers and another very nice meal. 5

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7 Day 5 11/05/2014 Today we spent the whole day searching for some of the more difficult passerines around the town of Trogir, Robert s home town and the area he perhaps knows best of all. The first stop was at a hillside above Split airport where we looked for Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. Sadly none could be found although a singing Sardinian Warbler provided some consolation. Next we visited a nearby cemetery where again we searched for Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, but similarly none were present. Perhaps they were late back this year as several pairs are known to occur in the area. We did however see our first Melodious Warbler here. Next we tried at several spots for Sombre Tit, which proved very difficult to locate. Perhaps we should have known it was not going to be easy when at the first site, a tree containing a nest box used by this species most years had been cut down. However, we continued checking one site after another until reaching Prgomet where, after some searching, at least some of the group managed to see our target. Other birds noted during the morning included our first Woodlark and only Hobby. Lunch was taken in Trogir market, before moving to the picturesque hills around the town of Vrsine. Here we walked through a tapestry of habitats typical of the karst country, including olive groves, orchards and small fields. Our time here rewarded us with a number of interesting species, warblers included Melodious, Eastern Orphean, Sub-alpine and Sardinian, while the whole area was alive with the song of Nightingale. We enjoyed good views of Golden Oriole and Cirl Bunting, as well as finding an Alpine Swift amongst a group of common Swifts. Raptors included Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard overhead, while a Marsh Harrier moved north and a group of five very distant raptors circling on thermals were probably Honey Buzzards on migration. Back in Trogir we visited Pantan, a small lagoon on the edge of town where Ruff, Common Redshank and Ringed Plover were all new for the list. A male Little Bittern flew over the reedbed from where the song of both Reed and Great Reed Warblers could be heard. A Purple Heron lurked on the edge of the Lagoon and a few Pygmy Cormorants were also observed. We finished the day with a visit to the beautiful old town of Trogir, which is situated on a small island between the mainland and the much larger island of Čiovo and since 1997 has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It was founded by Greek colonists in the 3rd century BC, when it was called Tragurion, and it developed into a major port until the Roman period. The name comes from the Greek "tragos" (male goat). We walked the narrow streets, passing many outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings, as well as beautiful Romanesque churches. Perhaps the main sights were the city walls (15 th century), the Cathedral of St. Lawrence (15 th century) the Kamerlengo Castle and Fortress (15 th century) and the city gate (17 th century). We finished our city tour with a refreshing drink in a quiet square tucked away down the narrow cobbled lanes before heading back to the hotel for dinner. 7

8 Day 6 12/05/2014 Today we made a slightly earlier start departing from the hotel at 07:30 due to the threat of bad weather in the afternoon. Luckily the bad weather never materialised and we enjoyed another excellent day. Our plan was to following the Cetina River all the way from it source near the village of Vrlika, all the way down to the coast. First however, we had a target to find on the nearby hill of Svilaja, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush was a must-see bird for one of the group, so special effort was made to find it. At first only Blue Rock Thrush could be found, with a pair observed carrying food several times. However, we didn t have long to wait before our target was also located, with a stunning male watched for some ten minutes or more. Other birds included Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, as well as our only Skylark and Stonechat of the tour. Whilst looking at the Rock Thrush, a passing local pulled over and invited us back to his house for a brandy. Although we tried to decline his kind offer he was very insistent and turned around to drive back to his village and wait for us. Sure enough as we approached the next village, there he was, waiting in the street to stop us. With little choice we went into his garden and were led to a large building, which upon entering we were amazed to find a full scale distillery in action. After a short tour we were led to a tasting room where several different flavours were sampled. It was perhaps a little much to be drinking at just 10:00am but it proved to be a very enjoyable diversion from our itinerary and one which saw many of us buying a bottle to take home. We even managed to locate a singing wood warbler in the garden. Richard Ness Back on route we visited the source of the Cetina River, before following it as closely as the roads would allow. We passed through several fertile plains and flower filled meadows, home to several Red-backed Shrikes, Hoopoes and Bee-eaters etc. We also visited an area called Suho Polje where we looked for Barred Warbler, which despite our efforts went unrecorded although we did find our first Lesser Whitethroat and a pair of Golden Eagles. The river then ran into a reservoir where we saw a few Goosander, with this the only breeding site for this species in Croatia. Other highlights included Red-rumped Swallow, Common Sandpiper and a number of interesting butterflies and flowers. The road then moved away from the river for a while, so we visited the source of one of its tributaries where the water poured straight from the base of a huge rock face. A little further on a stop by the roadside was made when a Golden Eagle was found displaying over a nearby crag. We watched the bird for close to half an hour, giving excellent views both in display flight and perched on the cliff. What a bird!!! Soon we were back at the Cetina River where it flows through another dramatic canyon and finally at the coast where it joins the sea in the beautiful town of Omiš. 8

9 Day 7 13/05/2014 Today we spent much of the day in the Biokovo Nature Park. We entered the park at around 08:30 and spent the next hour or so slowly driving the narrow snake-like road to the highest summit, Sveti Jure (Saint George) which at 1762m is the second highest mountain in Croatia. We made no stops on the climb, choosing to reach the top as soon as possible and make stops for birding on the way back. Our accent first saw us pass though Aleppo Pine forest, then Black Pine followed by stunted Beach and Oak woodland before finally reaching the alpine zone. Although it was an impressive drive, much of the latter half was shrouded in thick cloud, limiting the views of the area significantly. Once at the top we took a walk around the summit where we noted Black Redstart, Alpine Chough, Alpine Swift and finally our main target Alpine Accentor, see below. Moving back down, the van was brought to a sudden stop when a woodpecker flew across the road and landed in a nearby tree. Reasonable views followed, allowing us to identify it as White-backed Woodpecker, a real bonus for the trip as they were not thought to occur in the area. Other highlights on our descent included two male Rock Thrushes, an Eastern Orphean Warbler and several Northern Wheatear and Red-backed Shrikes. Coal Tit, Robin and Chiffchaff were all familiar species but new for our trip list. Lunch was taken at a pizzeria in Omiš, before heading into Split for a quick tour of the Old Town, the highlight of which was certainly the very impressive Diocletian's Palace. Built by the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century this was to be his final retirement residence. Today it forms the centre of the city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Day 8 14/05/2014 With an early flight home we had breakfast and proceeded straight to the airport, concluding what had been a truly remarkable tour. The birdlife lived up to expectations although perhaps just as memorable were the amazing scenery, flora, insects, geology and history of the region. The fact that we had a full week here meant we were able to enjoy all this without adversely affecting the birdlist. I would like to thank the entire group for there contributions as well as a special thank you to Robert Crnković for his vast knowledge of the area, which greatly added to the enjoyment of the tour. 9

10 SPECIES LIST 1 Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Recorded only on the 8 th when the distinctive calls were heard at Velo Blato on Pag. 2 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus At least four birds were noted on Pag on the 8 th, with several the following day at Vransko Lake. Elsewhere two were also noted on the Cetina Reservoir on the 12 th. 3 Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis One was seen distantly on the 8 th at Velo Blato. 4 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo At least two birds were noted at Vransko Lake on the 9 th. 5 European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis Small numbers were seen at sea from the Hotel Donat near Zadar on the 8 th & 9 th. 6 Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus First recorded on the Island of Pag on the 8 th when a total of 49 birds were counted at Velo Blato. Later the same day 16 was present at Nin saltpans. On the 9 th Several were noted at Vransko Lake, which holds Croatia s largest breeding colony of this species. Elsewhere small numbers were noted at Goriš on the 10 th and the Pantan Lagoon the 11 th. 7 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Small numbers were recorded on three dates, the most noteworthy of these being the 8 th when at least eight birds were seen on Pag. 8 Purple Heron Ardea purpurea On the 8 th two birds were noted in flight at Velo Blato on Pag, with one the following day also in flight at Vransko Lake. On the 11 th one was seen stalking along the edge of reeds at the Pantan Lagoon. 9 Great Egret Ardea alba Only record on the 8 th when a single bird was at Kolansko Blato on Pag. 10 Little Egret Egretta garzetta Small numbers were on Pag, Vransko Lake and the Pantan Lagoon on the 8 th, 9 th & 11 th respectively. 11 Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides The best count was at Pag Saltpans where a flock of up to twelve birds were in nearby fields on the 8 th. 12 Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus Single males were seen in flight at Vransko Lake on the 9 th and the Pantan Lagoon the 11 th. 13 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Three were feeding in the fields behind Pag Saltpans early in the morning of the 8 th, later presumably the same birds were noted moving north over Velo Blato. R Ness 14 Mute Swan Cygnus olor Small numbers were seen on four dates. 10

11 15 Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna Several were present at Pag Saltpans on the 8 th. 16 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Easily the most commonly recorded duck, with sightings on five dates. 17 Garganey Anas querquedula Five birds were seen distantly at Velo Blato on the 8 th. 18 Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Two on the 8 th at Pag Saltpans was the only record. 19 Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus On the 11 th up to six very distant raptors were circling over a hillside north of Vrsine and were most likely this species. Luckily later the same day one showed very well as it circled low over Trogir before moving north. 20 Black Kite Milvus migrans On the 7 th one flew low over the road near Zadar airport but was unfortunately only seen by a few of the group. 21 Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus On the 8 th while on the Island of Pag three birds were seen circling over the distant mountain tops of the mainland. 22 Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus One was seen from the road just north of Split airport on the 7 th with two noted the following day while on Pag. On the 11 th a total of four birds were noted in the Trogir area. 23 Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus Several birds were seen on Pag on the 8 th and at Vransko Lake the following day. One was also noted moving north over Vrsine on the 11 th. 24 Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus On the 7 th a male was noted in flight near Zadar, whilst the following day saw several birds on Pag. On the 9 th up to four birds were noted in the fields near Vransko Lake, with similar numbers on the 12 th along the Cetina River valley. 25 Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Singles were noted on three dates. 26 Common Buzzard Buteo buteo Small numbers were recorded on three dates, including a pair observed at a nest near Trogir on the 11 th Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos On the 8 th while on Pag, an immature bird circled the hillside behind Velo Blato. On the 10 th one was seen over one of the many canyons in the Krka National Park. On the 12 th at least four birds were noted while following the River Cetina. This included a pair at Suho Polje, and this young adult which gave quite a show as it displayed over the road.

12 28 Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Reasonably common with sighting on seven dates. 29 Hobby Falco subbuteo One, possibly two were noted over Prgomet, near Trogir on the 11 th. 30 Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus Some of the group managed to glimpse one from the van as we were travelling on the coastal road north of Split on the 13 th. 31 Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca Easily one of the most sought after birds in Croatia and one that is perhaps easier to see here than anywhere else in the species limited range. On the 8 th a total of four birds were noted on Pag. The first was found drying off after the rain on a stone wall above the Saltpans where it gave prolonged views. A pair found in a rocky field near Kolansko Blato also provided good views as well as the image below, with the fourth seen nearby again sat on a stone wall. On the 9 th two birds flushed from the Mednjaća Canyon and finally at least two birds were heard calling but not seen on the lower slopes of Biokovo on the 13 th. 32 Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Small numbers were recorded at Velo Blato on the 8 th and Vransko Lake on the 9 th. 33 Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Several were noted at Velo Blato on the 8 th and Vransko Lake on the 9 th. 12

13 34 Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Several were noted on the 8 th while on the island of Pag with the highest numbers recorded at the saltpans. Away from Pag the only other record also came on the 8 th when several were noted at Nin saltpans, including this individual. 35 Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus Despite being reasonably common in the area, especially on Pag, we failed to see any and as a result our only record was one heard calling on Pag. 36 Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus A pair was at Pag Saltpans on the 8 th. 37 Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Two pairs were seen on Pag, one at the saltpans and one at Kolansko Blato. 38 Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula Three birds were at the Pantan Lagoon on the 11 th. R Ness 39 Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus Three birds were present at Pag Saltpans, with two nearby at Kolansko Blato. All were in full breeding plumage. 40 Common Redshank Tringa tetanus One was amongst the waders present at the Pantan Lagoon on the 11 th. 41 Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia One was at Pag saltpans, with two nearby at Kolansko Blato on the 8 th. On the 11 th one was at the Pantan Lagoon. 42 Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Several were noted on the 8 th while on Pag. 43 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Singles were noted on three dates, with records from Nin saltpans, Vransko Lake and Pantan Lagoon. 44 Little Stint Calidris minuta Three birds were at Kolansko Blato on the 8 th, with three also noted at the Pantan Lagoon on the 11 th. 45 Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea On the 8 th two were present at Pag Saltpans, with five at Nin saltpans the same day. Elswhere one was noted the Pantan Lagoon on the 11 th. 46 Ruff Philomachus pugnax Small numbers were noted mostly in flight at Vransko Lake on the 9 th with one also present at Pantan Lagoon on the 11 th. 47 Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Three at Vransko Lake on the 9 th was the only record. 48 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis Common along the coast with smaller numbers noted further inland. Recorded Daily. 13

14 49 Common Tern Sterna hirundo Small numbers were present at Vransko Lake on the 11 th. 50 Little Tern Sterna albifrons Up to a dozen birds showed well at Nin saltpans on the 8 th. 51 Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon Columba livia Feral birds were seen daily around urban areas, with a few records in remote canyons possibly relating to genuine Rock Dove. 52 Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur With daily sighting it was a joy to find this species was a relatively common bird throughout the region, unlike in so many other areas of Europe. 53 Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Common in urban areas. 54 Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus The distinctive song was a common backdrop to the tour, though we managed only a handful of sightings. 55 European Scops Owl Otus scops One was heard singing in the grounds of the Hotel Donat on the 8 th, with at least two birds heard in the vicinity of the Hotel Imperial in Vodice the following evening. 56 Little Owl Athene noctua On the 8 th, three birds including this individual were found on Pag. 57 Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba Two were seen distantly on the 10 th over one of the canyons in the Krka National Park, luckily one showed much better the following day over Vrsine. 58 Pallid Swift Apus pallidus Quite common with sightings daily except on the 8 th. Notable sites included the services where we stopped at on the 7 th overlooking the Krka River, and the Hotel Zvonimir where several birds were often present overhead. 59 Common Swift Apus apus A common species with sightings daily except the 7 th. R Ness 60 European Bee-eater Merops apiaster Reasonably common with sightings on six dates. Perhaps our best views came on day one when up to 12 birds showed well in flight and perched on the power cables at the Krupa Monastery. 61 Hoopoe Upupa epops Reasonably common with sightings on six dates, including the 12 th when several were noted along the course of the Cetina River. 62 Wryneck Jynx torquilla On the 8 th one was singing in the grounds of the Hotel Donat, although it was not seen there until the following morning. Another was also heard singing near Trogir on the 11 th. 14

15 63 White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos On the 13 th while descending Mount Biokovo a woodpecker species flew across the road in front of us and appeared to land just out of sight in a large hollow. Although no distinguishing markings were seen, the bird s large size was noted. We immediately got out the van and were quickly able to relocate the bird at the base of a tree. We watched it for a short time as it moved from the base of one tree to another, often choosing to hop along the ground instead of flying, before it disappeared from sight. During this time all the main identifying features of White-backed Woodpecker, of the Southern European race D. l. lilfordi were observed. This is only the second record of this species in the region and perhaps indicates there maybe a small population here on Biokovo which had gone unnoticed. 64 Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra On the 10 th we visited Pokrovnik, a grassy plateau near the Krka National Park where we at least six birds were present. 65 Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla Small numbers were recorded on Pag, Pokrovnik and along the Cetina River on the 8 th, 10 & 12 th respectively. 66 Crested Lark Galerida cristata Reasonably common in the north, with sightings on four dates; however it remained unrecorded further south. 67 Skylark Alauda arvensis At least one was singing over Mount Svilaja on the 12 th. 68 Wood Lark Lullula arborea One gave prolonged views near Trogir on the 11 th with a few also noted the following day along the Cetina River Valley. 69 Sand Martin Riparia riparia Small numbers were recorded on Pag and the Nin Saltpans on the 8 th as well as Vransko Lake the following day. 70 Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris Surprisingly the only record involved a pair nesting in a cave overlooking the Krupa Canyon on the 7 th. This bird waited just above the cave entrance for us to leave before returning. 71 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Common with sightings daily. 72 Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica Small numbers were noted while driving on the 7 th and 9 th. It wasn t until the 12 th however that received good views, when three birds were collecting mud from to the shore of the Cetina Reservoir. 73 House Martin Delichon urbicum Common with sightings daily. R Ness 74 White Wagtail Motacilla alba Reasonably common with sightings on four dates. 15

16 75 Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Small numbers were noted on three dates, with the highest numbers noted on Pag on the 8 th. 76 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea A pair was located at a nest containing four young along the entrance road to Skradinski buk. 77 Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris Small numbers were recorded on Pag on the 8 th and on the Pokrovnik plateau on the 10 th. 78 Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris Two birds were present at the summit of Biokovo, with one giving good views. See image on page xx. 79 Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis Our first sighting came on the 12 th, when a male was observed near the summit of Mount Svilaja, on the Lemeš Pass. This was followed the next day by two more males in the Biokovo Nature Park, both of which gave reasonably good views, with one giving its display flight on a number of occasions. 80 Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius Reasonably common with sightings daily except the 14 th. It was observed in many of the rocky canyons as well as being frequently seen in more urban areas where it nests in old buildings. 81 Blackbird Turdus merula Common with daily sightings. 82 Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus Small numbers were seen on the 12 th on the lower slopes of the Dinara Mountain and in the pinewoods on the lower slopes of Biokovo. 83 Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti Small numbers were heard singing at Vransko Lake on the 9 th, but none were seen. 84 Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus On the 8 th at least three were present at Velo Blato on Pag. 85 Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus One was heard and eventually seen at the Pantan Lagoon on the 11 th. 86 Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus One was seen briefly in fields near Kolansko Blato, Pag on the 8 th, with a few at Vranko Lake on 9 th. 87 Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum Two birds were singing near Pokrovnik on the 10 th, with this bird giving prolonged views. 88 Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta At least three birds were noted on the 11 th near Trogir. 89 Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina One found in a garden on Pag on the 8 th would have been a migrant. 90 Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus A single bird seen on Pag on the 8 th was surprisingly the only record. 16

17 91 Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita A few were singing in Biokovo Nature Park on the 13 th. 92 Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix First recorded on the 7 th, when one was singing from trees by the Krupa Monastery. On the 12 th one was found singing in the garden where we had the brandy tasting, with another the following day on the lower slopes of Biokovo. 93 Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla A common bird which could easily be heard and seen at many locations throughout the tour. 94 Garden Warbler Sylvia borin One was heard but not seen at the Krupa Monastery on the 7 th. 95 Whitethroat Sylvia communis Small numbers were seen on Pag on the 8 th and Lemeš Pass on the 12 th. 96 Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca Only recorded at Suho Polje on the 12 th. 97 Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris Singles were noted in the Mednjaća Canyon above Lake Vransko on the 9 th and at Vrsine on the 11 th. On the 13 th at least two were noted in Biokovo Nature Park. 98 Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans Probably the commonest warbler in the area with several sightings on five dates. 99 Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala Small numbers were heard at various sites but it wasn t until the 11 th that we had our first sighting, when a male was singing in full view on the edge of Trogir. 100 Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata Small numbers were seen on four dates, the most notable being the 8 th when several were noted on Pag. Elsewhere they were recorded in the grounds of all three hotels. 101 Robin Erithacus rubecula The only record involved at least two birds heard singing from woodland on the lower slopes of Mount Biokovo on the 13 th, although none were seen. 102 Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos A common bird of the area with singing birds recorded daily except for the 13 th. Our best sighting came on the 7 th at the Krupa Monastery. 103 Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros At least four birds gave reasonable views on the 13 th at Biokovo Nature Park. 104 Whinchat Saxicola rubetra Several were noted on the 8 th while on the Island of Pag, with a few the following day near Vransko. One was also noted on the 12 th along the Cetina River. 105 Stonechat Saxicola rubicola On the 12 th a pair was watched near the summit of Svilaja, on the Lemeš Pass. 106 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Several birds, probably all migrants were noted on Pag on the 8 th. Breeding birds were present on the Lemeš Pass on the 12 th and Biokovo the 13 th. 17

18 107 Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica Small numbers were seen on four dates and from many suitable locations. The most notable being the Krupa Canyon where good views were enjoyed on the 7 th. 108 Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus A single bird was at the viewpoint overlooking the Cetina Canyon on the 12 th, with a few also noted the following day in the Biokovo Nature Park. 109 Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris After a long search for this species on the 11 th, two birds were eventually found near the village of Prgomet, though unfortunately they were not seen by the entire group. 110 Coal Tit Periparus ater A breeding pair was observed carrying food to the nest on the 13 th in the Biokovo Nature Park. 111 Great Tit Parus major Reasonably common with sightings on five dates. 112 Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus Recorded only in the Krka National Park on the 10 th. 113 Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer During the week a number of nests were seen, some of which were active, but despite this we never saw any birds, though we did hear the distinctive calls on two occasions. 114 Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus A common bird which was recorded on six dates. During the week we were treated to several good views, perhaps the most notable being the bathing birds seen at Goriš Canyon on the 10 th. On the 11 th this bird was photographed in the village of Vrsine. 115 Lesser Gray Shrike Lanius minor A single bird on telegraph wires near the Krupa Canyon on the 7 th, was the only record. 116 Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator Reasonably common with sightings on five dates. 117 Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio Another common bird, with sighting on seven dates. 118 Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius Singles were noted on three dates. 119 Magpie Pica pica Small numbers were seen in the Krka National Park on the 10 th, with the only other sighting being a single bird on the 12 th. 120 Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus On the 7 th a flock containing c30 birds were circling high over a hillside near the Krupa Canyon. Much better views came on the 13 th however, when several birds showed well near the summit of Mount Biokovo. 18

19 121 Jackdaw Corvus monedula Small numbers were seen on the 11 th and 12 th. 122 Common Raven Corvus corax Reasonably common with sightings on five dates. 123 Hooded Crow Corvus cornix A common and widespread species with sightings daily. 124 European Starling Sturnus vulgaris A common and widespread species with sightings daily. 125 Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus Small numbers were noted in the Mednjaća Canyon, near Trogir and along the Cetina River on the 9 th, 11 th & 12 th respectively. 126 Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala This male showed well in the Mednjaća Canyon on the 9 th with a number of birds seen in the Trogir area on the 11 th. 127 Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra Reasonably common with sightings on five dates. 128 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs A common and widespread species with daily sightings. 129 European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris Reasonably common with a number of sightings on four dates. 130 European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Abundant, with sightings daily. 131 Linnet Carduelis cannabina A common and widespread species with sightings on six dates. 132 Serin Serinus serinus Recorded on six dates, but generally in small numbers. 133 House Sparrow Passer domesticus A common bird, especially in urban areas, recorded on five dates. 134 Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis A relatively new breeding species in the area, which is now fairly common and widespread, with sightings noted daily. Several were nesting at Split airport making it both the first and last species of the trip. This bird was nesting in a utility pole in the Cetina Valley. 19

20 OTHERS Mammals The only mammal of note was a Red Squirrel which showed well in the Krka National Park. Reptiles & Amphibians Amongst the reptiles the following were all identified, Green Lizard, Italian Wall Lizard, European Glass Lizard, Aesculapian Snake and Nose-horned Viper. The only Amphibian positively identified was Common Toad. Italian Wall Lizard Richard Ness 20

21 Butterflies Several butterflies were noted during the tour, with the following species all positively identified. Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Orange Tip, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Green Hairstreak, Common Blue, Southern White Admiral, Painted Lady, Glanville Fritillary, Dalmatian Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large Meadow Brown, Yellow-banded Skipper. Green Hairstreak Richard Ness Yellow-banded Skipper Dave Read Southern White Admiral Richard Ness Southern White Admiral Dave Read Dalmatian Ringlet Richard Ness Large Meadow Brown Richard Ness 21

22 Orchids The following species were all noted. Bertoloni's Bee Orchid Dave Read Ophrys zinsmeisteri Dave Read Violet Bird's Nest Orchid Dave Read Elder-flowered Orchid Dave Read 22

23 LANIUS BIRD TOURS 17 Denman Close, Retford, Notts. DN22 7QG tel mobile or visit 23

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