Tripreport Carpathians of Slovakia, June 2014

Steinadler - JungesAfter having visited the Carpathians of Slovakia in April mainly for Hazel grouse photography, I wanted to observe different birds in the same area. In preparation I ordered a birdlist of the species from a local guide which birds might be possible and got the following:

Schedule suggestion (June 9 – 16):

1st day   Boreal Owl

2nd         Black Woodpecker

3rd           Northern Goshawk

4th           Three-toed Woodpecker

5th           Eurasian Pygmy Owl

6th           Black Stork

7th           Golden Eagle

White-backed Woodpecker, Honey Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle – depending on the distance of each species by car and on foot, the weather and your endurance while sitting in the hiding-place.

Wow, that sounded really good.

This time, photography of young birds, on and around the nest was the target. Nest photography is a sensitive endeavor. Nothing to try by yourself. So I laid my fate again in the hands of Milos. Milos is performing guarding and monitoring the wildlife of the Carpathians in the Tatra Mountains for more than 20 years. First, Milos worked as a ranger for the Mala Fatra NP. Doing this job, he learned to climb trees with professional equipment. A job, which needs licenses in Slovakia, too which are renewed every year or so after having showed the necessary skills and knowledges. Now he is self-employed as a nature conservationists but is still doing research and monitoring for the various Nature und National Park authorities. In pursuing this job he has all the necessary permits inclusive entering the park roads and performing surveillance jobs also on nest of birds. The results of the shooting of Carpathians birds of Slovakia in June you see in the Gallery.

June 09th 2014

Passing Žilina I headed for the tourist spot Terchová. A narrow country road leads you down to Dolny Kuby. Sunny & hot. Meeting Milos und Jaro at 7:00pm in the hotel. We agree to meet again at 6:00 am the next morning for breakfast in the pension.

June 10th 2014

Mala-Fatra-Mountains near Terchová. Searching nesting sites of Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus), Sunny & hot with some thunderstorms elsewhere.

June 11th 2014

Mala-Fatra-Mountains to the east, Veľká Lúčivná Visit nesting sites of Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and in vain Pygmy Owl, Sunny & very warm, some thunderstorms nearby.

June 12th 2014

Hills near Choč-Mountains. Visit nesting sites of Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Visit nesting site of Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) of day before. Clouds with some sun. Cooler than the previous days.

June 13th 2014

Buffer Zone High Tatras Mountains. Searching the Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) and other birds of limestone crags. Investigating birds of alpine meadows. Afternoon: investigating nesting site of Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) in hills near Choč Mountains. Clouds in the beginning with sunny weather afterwards, very hot in parts.

June 14th 2014

In the morning Žilina mountains near water reservoir. Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) at nest hole. Afternoon: investigating nesting site of Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) in Choč Mountains, photographing with interval controlled camera. Cloudy, very little sun. Showers, even heavy rain. Quite cool.

June 15th 2014

Morning: change batteries and CF-Card of interval controlled camera at nesting site of Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) in Choč Mountains. After: Buffer Zone Malá Fatra. Searching the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina). Sunny in the beginning with heavy clouds and some rain, sunny in the afternoon, warm in the sun.

June 16th 2014

Morning: de-install interval controlled camera at nesting site of Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) in Choč Mountains. Rest of day: Buffer Zone Malá Fatra. Searching the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina). Beautiful weather, with some clouds during afternoon, warm.

June 17th 2014

Day of return. Sunny and warm. After visiting a spot near Terchová, drive via Žilina, Bratislava, Vienna back home.

Nature und National Park authorities are very jealous for their natural assets – for good reasons. Thus, only licensed guides are authorized even to use most of the roads in the parks. For no reason, you should try the program you see above on your own. Fines are serious and costly. Additionally, this is bear-country. Another reason not to stalk alone through the forests. Tourists are allowed to move only on marked trails.

Ranger Miloš is pursuing a job, which means that he has all the necessary permits inclusive entering the park roads and performing surveillance jobs also on nest of birds, but guiding you is not his main task. In so far, patience is absolutely essential but, see it as a real privilege, to join him, one of the real nature experts of the Carpathians in Slovakia.

Some organization in advance is necessary to perform this kind of trip. I am considering doing this trip – but for other birds in a slightly different time window – in 2015 again. Pls. contact via contact form, if you are interested or need more details.

Annotated Birdlist:

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Only 1 ind. The last day along river Orava

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

Almost daily, seen in flights, more than 1 pair involved

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

Nesting in small numbers in the villages along river Orava

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

on the gravel pit ponds near Párnica

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

1 male on the gravel pit ponds near Párnica

European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Quite common, but rarely seen, heard on 2 days

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Common, but elusive, nests in pine and spruce trees, sometimes in small patches, 1 nest with 4 young

Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Uncommon and elusive, 1 nest with 3 young

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Abundant, often seen soaring, one of the birds harassing Golden Eagles high in the sky, 1 nest with 3 young

Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina)

Quite common but very elusive, several nests, no youngs (but not checked, due to nature protection reasons)

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Common. Showing well, almost every day, soars in pairs, several nests, all with only 1 young

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

common

Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

1 ind. seen flying in the buffer zone of the NP Malá Fatra; probably hunting over ponds near Párnica

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Uncommon, but an obvious bird over crags and steep cliffs

Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia)

No sighting, but 2 beautiful located sites of dust bathing under high limestone cliffs near Terchová

Corn Crake (Crex crex)

A bad year for this normally very common but elusive bird, only 3 males heard calling on wide meadow on 700m asl

Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)

1 nest with 4 eggs on ground in Malá Fatra buffer zone

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

abundant along river Orava

Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

abundant along tributary of Orava river

Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Common through-out

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Common in the small villages

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

common, heard also in the middle of forest, if clearings nearby

Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus)

1 sighting near Terchová, nest box with min. 4 youngs (could be well 7 youngs, but hard to estimate)

Common Swift (Apus apus)

abundant

White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos)

1 female, calling for a while in Mala Fatra NP

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Not as common as expected, only 2 encounters

Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus)

Surprisingly uncommon, but a pair at the hole, young?

Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius)

Heard only occasionally

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Uncommon, nesting on several sites

Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)

Very common, more in the wide valleys and in orchards near villages

Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)

Abundant in open country

Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes)

Common in the middle of mountainous forests, often heard calling, quite responsive

Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

abundant

Common Raven (Corvus corax)

Only 2 pairs heard & seen soaring

Eurasian Golden-Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)

Heard only, probably 1 ind.

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

Common in right habitat

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

Small flock near Parnica ponds

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Abundant over villages

Northern House-Martin (Delichon urbica)

flock near Parnica ponds with swifts

Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)

only seen on Parnica ponds

Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus)

only 1 ind., calling in small spruce tree

Great Tit (Parus major)

abundant

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Abundant, many family flocks

Wood Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

heard in almost every deciduous tree forest

Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

common

White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)

1 nesting in dried-up stream in High Tatras buffer zone

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

abundant

Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)

Heard only, seems to be quite common

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

in mountains near clearings, otherwise in open habitat in cliffs & gorges

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

abundant

Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)

Abundant, but only heard

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Abundant in open countryside

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)

Common, heard only

Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria)

1 observation, found around Red-backed Shrike nesting site, reluctant to respond

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)

Several observations with calling ind.; by far not as common as in April

Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)

abundant

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Abundant, espec. near villages

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Common, 1 young seen begging for food

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

Occasionally, mostly at dawn on meadows

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

common

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

Common in villages

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)

Only 1 observation on alpine meadows in buffer zone High Tatras

European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Quite common

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

abundant

Hedge Accentor (Prunella modularis)

Seldom seen, mostly during dusk and dawn

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

abundant

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Common near streams

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

The common singer on meadows, on slopes of wide valleys

Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)

Abundant, song conspicuous not only on alpine meadows

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

abundant

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Very common

European Serin (Serinus serinus)

abundant

European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

common

Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Only 1 observation, near forest clearing

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

Seen in flights, flight call characteristic

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Abundant in villages & towns

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

Some in countryside, often near farming

In total 77 species of birds. Not bad for one week!

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