Monday, 21 July 2008

Destinations: Julian Alps, Slovenia

There are some really tempting high mountain and forest birds in the Julian Alps in Slovenia... species like Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, Pygmy Owl, Wallcreeper and Snow Finch. But it has to be said that few of these are "easy". First of all, though this is beautiful, spectacular country, it is seriously Alpine, being steep, rugged and the region is prone to sudden fluctuations in weather. Overall spring is best, i.e. April and May, when passerines are singing, owls calling and grouse lekking. If you intend birding here check the local weather conditions, bring the right clothing and get hold of local maps if you intend to go off the beaten track. These mountains lie in the NW corner of Slovenia and stretch into neighbouring Italy and Austria.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Destinations: Poda, Bulgaria

Poda is a protected coastal wetland site that lies by Lake Mandra in Bulgaria. It is just south of the city of Borgas by road E87. The reserve is managed by the BSPB (Birdlife partner in Bulgaria) and has a visitor centre with helpful staff, drinks, souvenirs and a roof that serves as a great platform from which to scope the area open water and reedbeds. Poda is worth a visit at anytime though spring and autumn are arguably best. Spring birds (some breeding here) include Pygmy Cormorants, many herons and egrets, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, terns, gulls, various waders, Penduline and Bearded Tits and "reedy" warblers. Though they do not breed there are usually White and Dalmatian Pelicans around, too. As it lies on the Black Sea migration fly-way White Storks and Lesser Spotted Eagles go over in large numbers in autumn (September best). It is cold here in winter but the pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, White-tailed Eagle and goose flocks, including some Red-breasted Geese, are usually around.