countries: Slovenia, Croatia. Arrive and depart Ljubljana.
- 14-23, June 2022 (FULL)
7 + 3 days.
1190 GBP + 120 GBP single supplement. (1590 GBP + 120 GBP
single supplement with extensions). Price
includes: accommodations and meals (lunch is typically
picnic!), drinking water, vehicle hire with fuel and driver
guide, park entrance fees and ranger guides. The price
exclude: bank transfer loss, international flight, visa,
tips, drinks, personal travel insurance and any other activities
of personal request e.g. laundry, toalet fees, phone calls,
Three-star hotels with all rooms en suite.
Min. 3, max. 6 person.
Ford Transit minivan.
"...Slovenia is a nation with wonderful scenery and
rich wildlife, and still relatively unknown and undiscovered.
We start our journey amongst the soaring crags of the Julian
Alps, where we explore its lakes, forests and high mountain
pastures. We then move on to the karst limestone region, with
some amazing geological features including a seasonal lake
- that turns into an arable farm in the summer! - and vast
caves, into which we descend. In one, we hope to encounter
the Olm - a mysterious pink aquatic salamander, restricted
virtually entirely to this region. We continue to the Adriatic
coast, and cross into Croatia, for an excellent range of Mediterranean
birds and wildlife, including a visit to one of the islands..."
birds: Cory's Shearwater, Mediterranean Shearwater, Storm-petrel,
Shag, Pygmy Cormorant, Bittern, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron,
Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous
Duck, Goosander, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Bonelli's
Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Eleonora's Falcon, Peregrine Falcon,
Lanner Falcon, Ptarmigan, Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel
Hen, Rock Partridge, Quail, Purple Swamphen, Oystercatcher,
Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover,
Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Little Tern, Sandwich
Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Eagle Owl, Ural Owl, Tengmalm's Owl,
Pygmy Owl, Little Owl, Scops Owl, Nightjar, Alpine Swift,
Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Roller, 10 woodpecker
species, Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Crag Martin, Red-rumped
Swallow, Dipper, Alpine Accentor, Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear,
Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Thrush, Fieldfare, Ring Ouzel, Orphean
Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Moustached
Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Melodious Warbler,
Olive-tree Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler,
Firecrest, Goldcrest, Sombre Tit, Rock Nuthatch, Wallcreeper,
Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, Nutcracker,
Alpine Chough, Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrow, Snowfinch,
Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Serin, Bullfinch, Hawfinch,
Crossbill, Ortolan Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Black-headed Bunting
and Rock Bunting.
good stuff: Poplar Admiral, Alpine Blue, several Ringlets
(Erebia spp.), Horvath's Rock Lizard. Up to 90 species of
butterflies and some very rare alpine dragonflies. The are
having a very rich amphibian and reptile fauna.
Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Julian Alps, Vipava Valley, Mt. Nanos,
Secovlje Saltpans, Cres Island, Mt. Velebit, Paklenica National
Park, Lake Vrna.
- I wrote more useful birding information about Croatia for
independent travellers, in co-operation with Fatbirder.
We fly from London to Lubljana, arriving late afternoon, and
drive for about two hours to our hotel, in a stunning location
next to Lake Bohinj, among the craggy peaks of the Julian
spend the whole day around Mt.
Mangart searching for Ptarmigan, Wallcreeper,
Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, Rock Thrush, Golden Eagle, Grey-headed
and Three-toed Woodpeckers, Nutcracker and Red-breasted Flycatcher.
We also look for Marmots, Chamois and Alpine Ibexes. Overnight
This morning we drive to the glacial Lake
Bohinj. Just next to the hotel, Dippers dive
in the translucent source of the Bohinjska Sava River, and
Grey Wagtails flit among the off-shore rocks. Walking on the
shore of the lake we might encounter singing Bonelli's Warblers
and if we are lucky we might see Golden Eagle, Chamois and
Alpine Ibex on the rocky cliffs above. Later we visit the
nearby spectacular Slavica waterfall where we will look for
Grey-headed Woodpecker and Red-breasted Flycatcher in the
surrounding beech forest. A cable car takes us up Mt.
Vogel where we will enjoy spectacular views
over the snowcapped Julian Alps, among them Triglav, the highest
peak in Slovenia (2,864 meters) and Lake Bohinj below. We
get acquainted with the legend of the Triglav and Zlatorog
(a Chamois), and hope to see Raven, Ring Ouzel, Crossbill
and with a bit of luck Alpine Chough. Overnight Lake Bohinj.
We spend the morning in the Julian
Alps walking in the spectacular spruce forests
of the Pokljuka region
looking for Firecrest, Crested Tit and Common Crosbill. Three-toed
Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker and Nutcracker both occur in
the area, and we may be lucky with them as well. We will discover
beautiful alpine pastures and meadows home to colourful flowers
and many interesting butterflies including Clouded Apollo,
Purple-edged and Purple-shot Coppers, Assman's and Nickerl's
Fritillaries. Later in the day we drive to our next accommodation
in a beautiful setting deep in the Dinara mountain range.
Rakov National Park
is a famous nature reserve, showing many typical karst features.
Most of the park is a limestone plateau with trees and with
seasonally vanishing waters. In this plateau, several deep
river valleys can be found ('Poljes' in Slovenian, a word
adopted by geologists worldwide for this kind of karst feature).
Overnight Rakov Skocjan
During the morning we visit Lake
Cerknica, a seasonal lake in Inner Carniola,
a region of Slovenia and a world-ranking attraction. When
full, for about half the year, it is the biggest lake in the
country. It starts to disappear in spring and leaves behind
a field where farmers cut hay through the summer. There are
huge expanses of reed, sedge and wet grasslands, and some
remnants of raised peatbogs on the east shore. The birdlife
is very dependent on the water level, but we hope to see White
Stork, Curlew, Black Tern, Red-backed Shrike, Marsh and Barred
Warblers. Hopefully we will have a chance for Red-necked Grebe,
Corncrake, Savi's and River Warblers and Common Rosefinch
as well. After lunch we explore the magnificent Mt.
Nanos, a huge island-rock, which stands like
a secret garden above the surrounding plain, full of amazing
flowers. The mountain has a very interesting flora and fauna,
and holds many rare butterflies, including Poplar Admiral,
Assmann's Fritillary (endemic ssp. mitchiellii), Marsh Fritillary,
Alpine Mountain Argus, Scarce Large Blue, Alcon Blue, Amanda's
Blue, Great Sooty Satyr, Large Grizzled and Large Chequered
Skipper. Lots of interesting reptiles live here including
the enigmatic Nose-horned Viper, and Nanos is home to Golden
Eagle and Chamois. On the high plateau of the hill we will
look for Chamois, Golden Eagle, Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting.
Overnight Rakov Skocjan
This morning we visit Skocjan
Cave and the surrounding habitat. The visit
to the cave is optional. Those who choose to visit the cave
on a guided tour will walk 90 meters high above a giant underground
river, and finish the trip on the bottom of a huge, hundred
metre deep gorge, from where a cablecar returns to the starting
point. Those who decide to explore the karst forest around
the cave take an hour's birding walk around the enormous sinkhole
above the cave. Peregrine breeds in the walls, and Alpine
Swifts are abundant. Rock Bunting is widespread here and we
might see Short-toed Treecreeper and Crested Tit, too. Leaving
the Skocjan Cave we start to descend to a different area,
the Mediterranean Adriatic
region, with very different flora and fauna. Our lunch spot
will be among the bushy scrub of the Slovenian karst. Here
we hope to see our first Mediterranean birds, including Short-toed
Eagle and Blue Rock Thrush. After lunch we visit the old
saltpans ('salinas') of Secovlje, which were
established during Roman times to extract salt from sea-water,
and which is now one of the most important birdwatching areas
of the country. Amongst the throng we hope to see Shag, Kentish
Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Little Tern, Zitting Cisticola
and Cetti's Warbler. After our birding in the saltpans we
cross the border into Croatia and head to
our hotel for the night in the lovely seaside town of Lovran.
Our hotel is situated just next to the shore, and is a wonderful
spot for strolling and listening to the waves of the Adriatic.
The city, together with the more bustling and noisy Opatija
were the favourite holiday resort of the Habsburg monarchy,
including the Emperor Franz Joseph. Overnight Lovran
In the morning, we catch a ferry to the second largest of
the Adriatic islands, Cres.
We travel to one of the oldest settlements, the picturesque
seaside town of Beli, where we visit the centre for monitoring
and protecting Griffon Vultures. The most important long-term
activity of this Eco-Centre is the programme for rescuing
young Griffons from the sea, and caring for sick or wounded
birds. We take a walk on the eco-trails of the centre, in
the old, broadleaved woodland, known for its ancient oak and
horse-chestnut trees. The hillsides are full of warblers,
while Honey Buzzards and Short-toed Eagles soar alongside
the Griffon Vultures, and lizards, dragonflies and butterflies
abound. We return back on a late afternoon ferry to the mainland.
Overnight Lovran, or depart to Ljubljana.
After breakfast we take a longer drive to the Paklenica
National Park. En route we stop at the Gacka
River near Otocac, where the wonderful classic landscape holds
good numbers of Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Red-backed
Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike and other farmland-birds. Then
we continue our journey to our next destination to arrive
late afternoon to the Paklenica National Park. Overnight Starigrad
In 1978 the area of Paklenica
NP was put under the protection of the United
Nations programme 'Man and the biosphere' becoming a part
of the international network of biosphere reserves, while
its most attractive part, the Small and Big Paklenica Canyons
with the surrounding forests, had been proclaimed a national
park in 1949. Today 'Paklenica' is one of the most attractive
natural tourist regions of the north-eastern Mediterranean,
with its two monumental canyons, the second largest European
preserve of Austrian fir, ancient beech forests and steep
cliffs. The visitor to Paklenica is astonished by the surprising
quality of the plant and animal world. A large number of endemics
has been recorded here, (flora, cave fauna, reptiles), as
well as rare and endangered species of birds and certain species
of butterflies. In the morning we explore the inner plateaus
of the Velebit, where we will see the shy
Rock Partridge, Sombre Tit, Rock Nuthatch and Black-eared
Wheatear amongst others. Orphean, Sardinian and Subalpine
Warblers are common and we also have a chance for Eastern
Olivaceous Warbler. The hillside meadows are full of butterflies,
including Scarce and Common Swallowtails, Two-tailed Pasha,
Southern White Admiral, Southern Comma, Balkan Marbled White,
Tree Grayling, Cardinal, Cleopatra Brimstone, Eastern Dappled
White, and many other Blues, Hairsteaks, Coppers and Whites.
The park is a home of many endemic and relict flowers, including
its symbol, the Degenia. Many reptiles live here as well including
Hermann's Tortoise, the beautiful Leopard Snake and the enormous
Balkan Green Lizard. In the afternoon we drive to the fresh-water
lake of Vrana, being the biggest lake of Croatia,
fringed with reedbeds and separated with only a 2km wide landstrip
from the seacoast. It is also an important ornithological
refuge, with several protected bird species. Here we will
look for Montagu's Harrier, Bee-eater, Tawny Pipit, Golden
Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Spanish Sparrow and Black-headed
Bunting. The lake is a breeding place for Pygmy Cormorant,
Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Whiskered Tern, Penduline
and Bearded Tits. Overnight Starigrad
It is a five hour drive back
to Ljubljana with en route
birding for our late afternoon flight back to
Please note that we can arrange optional extensions to
the trip in Ljubljana, for a chance to spend a bit more time
in this delightful city. Please let us know at time of booking!