Montenegro, June 2016

Published by Tony Benton (tonyjbenton AT

Participants: Tony Benton, Tony Moverley


Highlights included Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Lesser Grey Shrike, Whiskered Tern, Golden Eagle, Golden Oriole and numerous stunning butterflies.

The annual June trip with birding and non-birding mates this year was to Montenegro, a tiny Balkan country boasting a fabulous coastline and alpine-like mountains. We arrived via Dubrovnik airport, Croatia, on 7 June 2016. The car hire pick-up at the airport was a little chaotic - but it did at least allow some time for checking out the birds in and around the car park!

We quickly started our trip list with:

House Martin
House sparrows

And whilst driving to our accommodation in Montenegro we added:

Yellow Legged Gull
Swifts (from the car, we were not able to differentiate Common from Pallid)

As night fall arrived and we were enjoying our first alfresco meal on the terrace of our rented property, we were serenaded by a lusty Nightingale and an equally loud Scops Owl.

Day two dawned clear and hot by 9 am. A Pallid swift was seen clearly over our house. With a good forecast for the day, we headed to the mountains in nearby Lovcen National Park. Parking in Ivanova Korita (after negotiating numerous hairpin bends en-route) we headed towards higher peaks and some fabulous views back down to the sea. Unfortunately this was a hike (led by the non-birding Dave) so constant stopping was not welcomed. Nonetheless it was obvious that there were plenty of birds around including:

Hooded Crow
Barn Swallow
House Martin
Cuckoo (frequently heard throughout the walk)
Alpine Swift
Alpine Chough (at high altitude only, around Babina)
Golden Eagle (second summer)
Common Buzzard
Red Backed Shrike (a very confiding male, lovely to see)
White or pied Wagtail

Day 3 started with a great walk above Kotor, but only one new bird was added - Great Tit. Early evening on day four (10 June 2016) saw us at Tivat Marsh (outskirts of Tivat) and this place must have huge potential at times of migration and probably over the winter months. There are good paths providing excellent views over the marsh and adjacent agricultural land and we added the following to the trip list:

Little Egret
Red-Rumped Swallow
Black Winged Stilt (just one)
Corn Bunting
Fan Tailed Warbler
Reed Warbler
Turtle Dove
Grey Heron
Cetti’s Warbler

The site was also good for large numbers of Alpine Swifts.

Day 5 (11 June 2016) saw us make the trip to Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans. Arriving at Virpazar (clearly signposted from the coast road south of Budva), we were immediately accosted by touts offering boat trips on the lake. We struck lucky because the first person to approach us proved to be a competent boat skipper, who quickly tuned in to our need for birds and not general sightseeing. We highly recommend ‘Kingfisher’ boats and skipper Milo. The boat owner can be contacted via phone on +383 679 295 622 or email We hired the boat for exclusive use for 25 euros per hour (split between the four of us) and enjoyed a two hour excursion on the lake. By a stroke of good fortune, Milo knew where we might get lucky with Pelicans and we quickly got close to two immature Dalmatian Pelicans. I was pleased that Milo was respectful of the birds and ensured that they were not spooked by our presence. Other new birds for the trip were:

Pygmy Cormorant
Whiskered Terns
Squacco Herons
Moorhen (just one)
Cuckoo (this one seen and not just heard)
Purple Heron
Great Cormorant
Glossy ibis (flight view only)
Golden Oriole (two stunning males)
Lesser Grey Shrike
Sand Martin (not nesting this year because of high water levels on the lake)
Great Crested Grebe (and numerous young birds)

And although seen before there was a supporting cast of Nightingales, Cetti’s Warbler, Barn Swallow, Alpine Swifts and House Sparrow, making this a top destination.

Sunday 12 June, and an atrocious day weather wise. Massive thunderstorms and very heavy rain meant that we were confined to barracks. But whilst staring out of the window, longing for the rain to stop, we did get some great views of a Little Owl and this slightly brightened our day. By mid-afternoon the rain had exhausted itself (!) and we managed a couple of hours of birding near the Villa. The best bird was a splendid male Red-backed Shrike, plus as usual numerous singing Nightingales. We also added a Common Kestrel to the trip list. The day ended with the mother of all thunderstorms that seemed to go on for hours. It started with sheet lightning illuminating the sky and finished with endless thunder claps and almost violent rain.

Monday 13 June, our final full day.

We started back at Tivat marsh and added Woodchat Shrike x3 and Caspian Tern x4 to the trip list. We also enjoyed some great views of Red Rumped Swallows, Squacco Heron, Corn Bunting and a party of six Black Winged Stilts. We were pretty sure that we also heard a Great Reed Warbler. Whilst enjoying a walk along the cliffs of the Lustica Peninsula, the day ended with a Cirl Bunting, a flushed European Nightjar and a pair of Turtle Doves.

Butterflies and moths were also abundant including:

8th June 2016 - Cafe on roadside near Zanjev Do:

Black-veined White Aporia crataegi x3
Scarce Swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius

Lovcen National Park; Circular walk from Ivanov’s Moritz via Majstori and Babina Glava:

Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria euphrosyne x4
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea
Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi (1 on high ground near Babina Glava)
Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Woodland Ringlet Erebia medusa – 5-8 seen (but couldn’t rule out slim possibility of Scotch Argus)
Dingy Skipper – several seen but not 100% identified
Speckled Yellow Pseudopanthera macularia- at least 8 seen in woods

9th June 2016

Villa Maslina, Bogisici:

Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius
Lattice Brown Kirinia roxelana

Zanjice, Lustica Peninsular:

Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius
Southern Comma Polygonia egea
Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta
Lattice Brown Kirinia roxelana x4
Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis x2
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae
Billowing Burnet Zygaena ephialtes
Narrow Rose-banded Wave Rhodostrophia calabra

10th June 2016 - Walk from Ganja Lastva to Kotor:

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni x6
Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma x3
Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum
Lattice Brown Kirinia roxelana
Pearly Heath Coenonympha arcania
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
Brown Argus Aricia agestis
Holly Blue Leptidia sinapsis
Wood White Leptidia sinapsis x2
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea
Mother Shipton Callistege mi
Other fauna:
Hermann’s Tortoise Testudo hermanni
Clathrus ruber fungus

11th June 2016 - Virpazar:

Swallowtail Papilio machaon

12th June 2016 - Local area around Villa Maslina, Bogisici:

Clouded Yellow Colias crocea
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris x12
Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae
Eastern Rock Grayling Hipparchia syriaca
Narrow Rose-banded Wave Rhodostrophia calabra
3 species of Cricket

13th June 2016 - Tivat Salina:

Wood White Leptidia sinapsis x30
Common Blue Polyommatus Icarus
Brown Argus Aricia agestis
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea x2
Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma x10
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Six-spot Burnet Zygaena filipendulae x4
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
Brimstone x6 Gonepteryx rhamni
Swallowtail Papilio machaon
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina

Villa Maslina, Bogisici:

Large White Pieris brassicae


Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis x25
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria
Small White Pieris rapae
Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma x8
Narrow Rose-banded Wave Rhodostrophia calabra x20
Wood White Leptidia sinapsis
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea x3
Lattice Brown Kirinia roxelana
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina x3
Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera x5
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Common Blue Polyommatus Icarus x4
Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni


Black-veined White
Brown Argus
Clouded Yellow
Common Blue
Eastern Rock Grayling
Green Hairstreak
Holly Blue
Ilex Hair streak
Large White
Lattice Brown
Meadow Brown
Orange Tip
Painted Lady
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Pearly Heath
Red Admiral
Scarce Swallowtail
Small Heath
Small Skipper
Small White
Southern Comma
Southern White Admiral
Speckled Wood
Spotted Fritillary
Two-tailed Pasha
Wall Brown
Wood White
Woodland Ringlet


Hummingbird Hawkmoth
Mother Shipton
Narrow Rose-banded Wave
Six-spot Burnet
Billowing Burnet
Speckled Yellow

All Butterflies and Moths identified by Tony Moverley, based in Settle, Yorkshire.

Thank you Tony for your patience and enthusiasm when introducing me to the fantastic world of Lepidoptera.