Slovenia & Croatia July 2005

Published by Sander Bot (sanderbot AT

Participants: Sander Bot, Janne Ouwehand


This summer we decided to enjoy our holidays in Slovenia and Croatia. We are interested in birds, but also butterflies, dragonflies and hoverflies. For more information about our trip and its species, contact us at

July 15

On the way to Slovenia we stopped in Austria in search for the dragonfly Nehalennia speciosa. The spot is a marsh near the Walchsee, near Kufstein. From the Walchsee take the road to the north, and after a few kilometres the marsh is on the left. We couldn`t find Nehalennia speciosa, but we found other species like Somatochlora arctica and Somatochlora flavomaculata. A swimming grass snake (Natrix natrix) was seen here as well.

We continued our journey and by the end of the day we reached the Julian Alps in Slovenia.

In the Alps we found a campsite in the small village Trenta. Just before dark we placed our tent while 10 Crag Martins and 5 Alpine Swifts were flying above us.

July 16

Woke up with the song of a Bonelli`s Warbler, singing up hill. In the morning we drove to the highest point you can reach by car: Mount Vrsic, 1611m. We were not the only one with that idea, so we walked there for only half an hour, in search for some alpine species. A bit disappointed to not find a Alpine Chough or so, we drove a bit further for a more quiet place. Again, not much birds. The few birds to mention were the Ravens and a Dipper.

The few birds were compensated by the butterflies: Euphydryas intermedia was the highlight, and other species we saw were: Erebia pharte, Aricia artaxerxes and Coenonympha gardetta.

Back at the campsite, the usual Crag Martins were flying around, and a flock of 15 Alpine Swifts flew past. A short search for Dipper along the river near the campsite produced nice views of one bird.

July 17

Again Bonelli`s Warbler singing in the morning at the campsite. The weather was getting worse, so we decided to drive to Croatia this day. We drove from the Alps to Ljubljana, Novo Mesto, crossing the border at Metlika and took the motorway A1 all the way down to Paklencia NP. Leaving the Alps, Carrion Crow is replaced by Hooded Crow. At Jesenice we saw 1 Carrion Crow and 1 Hooded Crow, in Radovljica we saw 1 group of 35 Hooded Crows. The road conditions were surprisingly good. Especially the A1 motorway in Croatia is very good, though you have to pay toll. In the late afternoon we arrived in the village Starigrad-Paklencia, near Paklencia NP. Along the coast, just before arriving at Starigrad-Paklencia we saw a flock of Yellow-legged Gulls (larus michahellis). While scanning the gulls I found a gull very much looking like a Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans). It was a near adult with long thin bill and very flat forehead. I have no idea about the occurrence of Caspian Gull here. 1 Common Sandpiper was seen here as well. We randomly choose one of the many campsites here, and it was a good one: very small campsite, with nice private spots with a lot of shadow and a very friendly owner. The campsite was a bit tricky to find, and is behind the only ATM in town. It was cheap as well: about €10 per night for 2 persons, a tent and a car. Be aware to not end up at one of the big crowded auto-campsites here!

In the evening we visited a Rock Partridge spot. We got the spot from two trip reports. The directions: In the village Starigrad-Paklencia is a small road to the north, signposted as: Veliko Runjo 10Km. Follow that road. After about 3 kilometres and passing a garbage dump there is a small settlement, with a few houses and an old phone booth. The two other trip reports tell you from here on the road is unsealed. But now the road is sealed, and you have to follow the new road for about 1 kilometre. If doing so you find a few ram shackled houses at the right. From that point on, start searching. We couldn`t find the species, but during the search we saw 2 Western Rock Nuthatches, 2 Blue Rock Thrushes, 1 male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, 1 singing male Cirl Bunting and many Red-backed Shrikes. When it became dark we decided to call it the day and try it again the next morning.

July 18

We woke up very early, and went to the Rock Partridge spot. At the spot we met a friendly Hungarian Birdwatcher, also in search for the partridge. We split, he searched just past the ram shackled houses, we searched up hill. Up hill not much birds, but brief views of a singing male Subalpine Warbler and a male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. After half an hour, we heard and saw the Hungarian birdwatcher calling and waving to us. I was down in no-time, and yes he saw a Rock Partridge walking over the road in the bushes. We had to wait only a few seconds, and the bird flew up, to his two friends a bit further. We could observe the 3 birds a few minutes. They were vocal, and a fourth bird was answering the calls at the other side of the road. After this sighting we went to the ram shackled houses, cause there was relatively much green, which maybe gives more birds. We took our time, and sat in the orchard. The patience was rewarded with the following birds: a family Sombre Tits, 1 Eastern Orphean Warbler, 1 Nightingale, 1 Middle Spotted Woodpecker, family Red-Backed Shrike, 1 Cirl Bunting and a few Western Rock Nuthatches. Butterflies were plentiful, attracted by the field and orchard with many flowers. Some good species: Scolitantides orion, Limenitis reducta, Polygonia egea, Brintesia circe, Polyommatus daphnis, Polyommatus coridon and Satyrus ferula. In the afternoon we took a nap, it was very warm, it must have been close to 40 C. Around the tent 2 Pieris mannii were caught (and released).

In the late afternoon we did some birdwatching around the village. Alongside the first kilometre of the road to Veliko Runjo we saw a female Sardinian Warbler and a pair Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. We followed the coastal road from Starigrad-Paklencia a few kilometres northwest, and found a Red-rumped Swallow in a group of 4 Barn Swallows. Checking sparrows paid off an we got excellnt views of a nice male Spanish Sparrow! We saw this male at a autocamp near the coastal road near the junction to the south-eastern entrance of Paklencia NP. On the spot we saw an Italian Sparrow as well.

July 19

We intended to get up early for a good hike in Paklencia NP. But is was raining this morning. By the end of the morning the rain stopped and we took the south-eastern entrance of the NP. The entrance is signposted from the coastal road, and is a few Kilometres south of the western entrance. Along the road to the entrance was a dried out riverbed and some cultivated land which produced some birds: 1 adult Red-rumped Swallow collecting mud, 1 Hoopoe, and 2 Crested Larks. At the parking lot of the NP a few Bee-eaters were flying around. During the walk in this beautiful but dry area we saw may Crag Martins, 5 Rock Pigeons, two Blue Rock Thrushes, a few Cirl Buntings and some Western Rock Nuthatches.

July 20

Today we took the western entrance. At this entrance you have to pay for a ticket (4 euro), and it is crowded too. Just past the parking place there is a canyon where many Alpine Swifts were flying around, about 60 birds! Rock Pigeon, Black Redstart, Crag Martin and Western Rock Nuthatch ware seen here as well. We walked further along a dried out riverbed, but after a few kilometres water is still running. We saw a Sombre Tit at this part. I hoped to see some dragonflies at the stream, and I was happy to find two good species: 1 male Somatochloa meridionalis and 1 Cordulegaster bidentata. The fist dragonfly was seen just before the Foresters House and the latter about 1 kilometre upstream from the Foresters House. Other animals seen in and around the stream: 1 Salamandra salamandra, 2 Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and 4 Beautiful Demoiselles (Calopteryx virgo). The beautiful butterfly Limenitis reducta was common and sweat sucking on our heads. After a few 100 metres where the path goes uphill, leaving the stream, there is a view, from where we saw a Blue Rock Thrush.

21 July

After breakfast we decided to go to Zagreb. While packing our stuff, two Pallid Swifts where flying above us for a minute. While driving to the A1 motorway we saw a Red-rumped Swallow flying over the car. While driving on the highway to Zagreb we saw a Woodchat Shrike, the only one of the whole vacation. Before going to Zagreb we visited a fishpond area, about 25 Kilometres before Zagreb: Crna Mlaka. To get there is very easy: leave the motorway at the exit Jastrebarsko; pay your toll and then turn immediately left. Follow the gravel road for about 5km. The road runs through superb gallery forest. Make a left (signposted) and you are in the park. At the entrance there is a car-park and a barrier. There is a big sign at the entrance with a lot of information, but I don’t understand their language, so no idea what was allowed and what not. Anyway, it was an unexpected nice area with fish-ponds. We took a walk to the observation tower and walked around some ponds. Birds we saw here: adult and juvenile White-tailed Eagle, 5 Black Kite constantly hanging around, 3 Black Storks, many Ferruginous Ducks, about 100 Whiskered Terns, 2 Black Terns, 1 Kingfisher and many Little Grebes. But the herons were the best: 2 beautiful Little Bitterns, 1 Bittern and 2 juvenile Night Herons. Red-backed Shrike, Hooded Crow and Serin were common. Back at the car we decided to drive in the park, the barrier was open anyway, and we were the absolutely only persons around there. We drove to the very small village Crna Mlaka, which is just behind the fishponds. From there we found a gravel road, leading us to many more fishponds! And again, no signs to not enter that road or so. Driving along al the fishponds we saw many Ferruginous Ducks, about 70 Great Egrets, a few Little Egrets, 1 Black Stork, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Hawfinches and 1 Little Bittern. Little Hortobagy would be a good name for this great spot. We saw 2 species of Dragonfly: Orthetrum albistylum and Anax parthenope. So the stop at this reserve before going to Zagreb was well worth it! We drove to Zagreb, to the only campsite around Zagreb, along the motorway between exit Lucko and Jankomir.

July 22

Today we visited Zagreb, so no birdwatching. Although, we saw and heard many Serins.

July 23

We travelled to Buzet, Istria. On the way we stopped near Risnjak NP, east of Rijeka. Not much birds, but here we saw our first Lycaena virgaureae (butterfly) of the trip. At the end of the afternoon we finally reached our recommended campsite in Buzet. But the camping was not running anymore, so we decided to drive immediately to the Slovenian coast. It was very hard to find a campsite. Al campsites are crowded, no quiet nice campsites like in around Paklencia NP. Cause all receptions were closed we just placed our tent at a campsite around Ankaran.

July 24

We woke up at a terrible campsite and decide to leave immediately in search for a better campsite. A few meters after passing the border to Italia we found a campsite, in Lazaretto. We asked a quiet place and got one. We walked around the campsite, but it was very warm. The only bird worth to mention was the Green Woodpecker. From a report we red that around Stunjunan are some saltpans and a Scops Owl spot. First we visited the saltpans in the village. We saw many Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls, 1 Caspian Gull, 2 Little Stints, 1 Temmincks Stint, some Common Sandpipers and 4 Little Egrets. By day the village is very crowded, so make sure you are there in the evening. When it became dark we searched around the tennis court to see or hear a Scops Owl. Unfortunately we couldn’t found them, so we drove back to the campsite. The very first thing we heard while opening the car door was...a Scops Owl! With a strong torch we could easily found 2 males and a female on the campsite.

July 25

Today we visited different places around Kozina in Slovenia, in search for butterflies and dragenflies. In a small pool we found the damselfly Coenagrion scitulum in good numbers! To find that pool, take the old highway from Kozina to Koper. A few kilometres after Kozina the new Highway is on the right and look for a very small pool on the left. That is the place, and other dragonflies found there were: Ceriagrion tenellum, Crocothemis erythraea and Orthtrum brunneum. Before this spot, where the old highway goes under the new we found a few interesting butterflies: Hamearis lucina and Brenthis daphne. Back at the campsite, the Scops Owls start calling at dusk and gave good views. We found 2 juveniles and another male as well, making a total of 6 owls at the campsite.

July 26

Our destination for this day was Mount Nanos. The mountain Nanos is 1.300 meters height and halfway between Ljubljana and Koper. It's the natural border between the interior and the Mediterranean climate, so good for butterflies. If you follow the A1 Highway from Koper, mount Nanos is hard to miss, take exit Razdrto and you are at the foot of the mountain. We walked to the top and saw 40 species of butterfly! Here are the best: Lopinga achine, Brintesia circe, Plebeius idas, Satyrium spini and Carcharodus lavatherae. The birds were sparse, but here we saw our only Short-toed Eagle of the whole trip. On the way down we saw a pair rock buntings with a juvenile!

July 27

In the morning we drove to Rovinj, Istria, Croatia. It is a very nice little town, and in the harbour we saw 4 shags. 2 of them where juveniles with white underparts: subspecies desmarestii. Camping is extremely expensive: 2 persons with car and 1 tent: € 27 a night!! So we decided to camp in the free air. We heard 3 Scops Owls that night

July 28

In the morning we watched beautiful fishes by snorkelling in the clear blue sea. In the afternoon we left Istria, too expensive for this students, and visited on the way back to Slovenia lake Butoniga in the center of Istria. On the map is seems an interesting spot, but it turned out to be a reservoir. So not many birds, but in the fields around the lake we found some butterflies: Cupido decolorata, Cupido argiades and the dragonfly Somatochlora meridionalis. The few birds: Red-backed Shrike, Cirl Bunting and Zitting Cisticola. We camped that night in Kozina. There is a sombre campsite near the highway. Two Alpine Swifts flew past.

July 29

We woke up early cause today we wanted to go to the Julien Alps. In a report we red about a spot for Ptarmigan, so we drove to that spot, Mount Peci. It is in the eastern Julien Alps, so we hoped it would not be crowded there. After a long drive we arrived in Crna, about 60 kilometres northeast of Ljubljana. From there is it very hard to find the parking lot to the mountaineers hut. Follow the signs, which are sometimes lacking, and ask some people and you will find the place to park. From there it is only half an hour walk to the mountaineers hut Dom na Peci. We intended to camp, but apparently that is not usual there, and after asking we could camp for free near the hut! We were the only foreigners here, and the owners of the hut didn’t understand any English or German, so ordering dinner from a menu with only slovenian language is not easy.... In the late afternoon we checked the fields around the mountaineers hut for butterflies. Result: Boloria titania, Parnassius mnemosyne, Polyommatus semiargus and Polyommatus coridon. The woods were very silent, hard to find birds at all. The 2 males Ring Ouzel around the picnic tables at dusk were nice.

July 30

We decided to get up early to go to the top. While waking up we heard a Nutcracker and Bullfinches. While walking to the top we searched for Hazel Grouse with no luck. It takes about an hour to reach the top. Just before we reached the top we were really lucky: A female with chick Ptarmigan crossed the road! It was a barren slope, so we could easy follow the two until they bored us, incredible!! We walked the last 5 minutes to the top und saw 2 Alpine Choughs, 1 Alpine Accentor and 6 Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). No other alpine species, but found some good butterflies: Erebia gorge and Pyrgus andromedae. A bit further downhill we found Argynnis niobe form eris, Lycaena hippothoe, Melitaea diamina and Boloria titania.

July 31

We packed the tent, said the friendly mountaineers hut staff goodbye and walked back to the car. Driving downhill a Nutcracker flew over the car. We drove about non-stop to our nice little country The Netherlands without problems, arriving there August the first.

Sander Bot
Janne Ouwehand
The Netherlands

Species Lists

Butterfly list

1 Papilio machaon
2 Iphiclides podalirius
3 Parnassius mnemosyne
4 Pieris brassicae
5 Pieris rapae
6 Pieris mannii
7 Pieris bryoniae
8 Colias croceus
9 Colias alfacariensis
10 Gonepteryx rhamni
11 Gonepteryx cleopatra
12 Leptidea sinapis
13 Satyrium ilicis
14 Neozephyrus quercus
15 Satyrium spini
16 Lycaena phlaeas
17 Lycaena virgaureae
18 Lycaena tityrus
19 Lycaena hippothoe
20 Celastrina argiolus
21 Cupido argiades
22 Cupido alcetas
23 Cupido minimus
24 Maculinea alcon
25 Scolitantides orion
26 Plebeius argus
27 Plebeius idas
28 Aricia agestris
29 Aricia artaxerxes
30 Polyommatus semiargus
31 Polyommatus daphnis
32 Polyommatus coridon
33 Polyommatus bellargus
34 Polyommatus icarus
35 Hamearis lucina
36 Apatura iris
37 Limenitis camilla
38 Limenitis reducta
39 Araschnia levana
40 Vanessa atalanta
41 Aglais urticae
42 Inachis io
43 Nymphalis polychloros
44 Vanessa cardui
45 Polygonia c-album
46 Polygonia egea
47 Argynnis paphia
48 Argynnis aglaja
49 Argynnis adippe
50 Brenthis daphne
51 Brenthis ino
52 Issoria lathonia
53 Boloria titania
54 Melitaea didyma
55 Melitaea diamina
56 Melitaea aurelia
57 Melitaea britomartis
58 Euphydryas intermedia
59 Melanargia galathea
60 Hipparchia fagi
61 Hipparchia semele
62 Chazara briseis
63 Satyrus ferula
64 Minois dryas
65 Brintesia circe
66 Erebia ligea
67 Erebia euryale
68 Erebia epiphron
69 Erebia aethiops
70 Erebia pharte
71 Erebia medusa
72 Erebia gorge
73 Maniola jurtina
74 Aphantopus hyperantus
75 Pyronia tithonus
76 Coenonympha pamphilus
77 Coenonympha arcania
78 Coenonympha gardetta
79 Coenonympha glycerion
80 Pararge aegeria
81 Lasiommata maera
82 Lasiommata megera
83 Lophinga achine
84 Pyrgus andromedae
85 Spialia sertorius
86 Carcharodus alceae
87 Carcharodus lavatherae
88 Erynnis tages
89 Heteropterus morpheus
90 Thymelicus lineola
91 Thymelicus sylvestris
92 Ochlodes venata
93 Colias hyale