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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2005, 12:32   #1
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Slovenia - birdwatching sites?

I shall be spending 2 weeks in Slovenia at the beginning of July. I realise that this is not the best time of year but any suggestions gratefully recieved. We will be staying part of the time in a village near Lake Bled and the rest in Izola on the coast. My wife is not a birder so I won't be travelling great distances to look for birds
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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2005, 14:05   #2
Jurij Hanžel
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Hello, Graham!
Nice to see another birder coming to Slovenia. During the stay in Izola, you should visit the Sečovlje Saltpans. The breeding birds, among others, include Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plovers, Little Terns, Avocet and Bee-eater. At about the same time you're going a summer-plumaged Ruff and a Lesser Crested Tern were seen. I'm sure Mugil, a BF member and warden in Sečovlje, will kindly help you out as well with some more tips.
There are two parts of the saltpans, Lera and Fontanigge. Try to visit both, but Fontanigge as a priority. It's advisable to take your passports with you because you need to cross the border and turn right on "no-man's-land" to reach Fontanigge.

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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2005, 14:23   #3
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Hi Graham-

Forum member and Slovenophile Birdman wrote a very good "non-birding" trip report after his visit in September 2004, which includes sites within striking distance from your lodgings near Bled:

He had bad luck with the weather on the day he took the Vogel cableway above Lake Bohinj, but your fortunes will probably be better in July. Try to get above tree line somewhere, at any rate, even if it's just for the Alpine wildflowers (the prospect of which might entice your wife, I hope).

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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2005, 18:45   #4
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The notes that follow are rather old (and long), but might help. I didn't have a car (as I didn't drive at the time) which would be a big asset. I also still had one of my daughters in tow, so it was hardly a 'full on' birding trip. Great country & with one of my fav. capital cities too


Birding Around Lake Bled - 12th - 19th August 1998

As is obvious from the title this is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to birdwatching in this attractive ‘new’ country, but rather a guide to what might be seen in the area around Lake Bled on what was primarily a family holiday. Hopefully others in similar circumstances to my own (i.e. on a package tour with family and without a car) will be able to build upon these notes. I have supplemented my own comments with notes kindly passed on to me by a birder who stayed in the area a week before me and some information from local sources. These notes have been placed in brackets.

I found the locals very pleasant & helpful. Many locals have a basic command of English, but just a little Slovene (‘please’, ‘thank you’, etc.) was much appreciated. I stayed at Hotel Mlino (in Mlino just outside Bled) and would recommend it. As a sticky cake addict I would also recommend ‘Šmon Franci’ (look for the ‘Brown Bear’ sign ) just beyond the bus station. As a general rule of thumb things seemed two thirds of UK prices. Ł1 = 260-270 sit

Buses generally provide a more regular, cheaper, and sometimes quicker, means of transport than trains. Bled is well served by reasonably priced buses (all prices quoted are for singles: Ł1 = c265 sit).
Bled to Bohinj - services run from the bus station from c7:30 am to c8.30 PM and take about 40-45 minutes to reach the Hotel Zlatorog at far end of Lake Bohinj. Single - c500 sit.
Bled to Ljubljana (via Lesce Bled) - buses also leave at about half past the hour and run for a similar time through the day (c80 minutes; 830 sit).
Lesce Bled to Kranjska Gora (via Jesenice) - This bus leaves Lesce Bled train station at 40 minutes past each hour just as the Bled/Ljubljiana pulls in opposite - if you’re lucky. The journey to Kranjska Gora takes c50 mins (single c450sit)
Cycles - these may be hired 1500 sit per day
Car hire - presumably available and doubtless very useful if you drive!
Cable cars / chair lifts are a vital means to get up on the ‘high tops’ without terminal exhaustion, but loads of hikers have just the same idea so get there early!
Bohinj - get off the bus at the campsite at the far end of Lake Bohinj and walk up to the cablecar to Ski Hotel Vogel. This runs half hourly from 7:30 am to c6:30 p.m. Return 1000 sit, single 700 sit. From the top of the cablecar a chairlift takes you up to Postaja Orlova Glava at c1600m (Return 700 sit, single 350 sit). There is a chairlift from here that goes higher still but it wasn’t running when I was there. Check times down - it seemed to stop at c4:00 when I was there. Note that there are several restaurants not far from the cablecar.
Kranjska Gora - to the north of the town a chairlift (in two parts) runs up to Dom na Vitrancu (1555m) where a path follows the ridge to Ciprnik (1746m). I think it runs from c8:00 am to c4:00 pm with a long break around mid-day, but check details locally. Cost c900 sit.

Maps: excellent maps (1: 25,000 & 1:50,000) are readily available locally in Tourist Office and numerous shops. If you intend to walk in the mountains / woods the 1:25,000 maps are invaluable since they show way marked paths.

Books: ‘Slovenia’ - Lonely Planet Ł8.95 - an excellent general guide.
‘Collins Gem - Slovene Phrase Finder’ - Ł3.50
‘Walking in the Julian Alps’ Cicerone Press Ł8.99 - very useful book suggesting many walks of varying
lengths. It was my wife who wanted to take the walk on p114 which gave me Three-toed Woodpecker.

John Cantelo

Bird List

Grey Heron - seen once Bohinj Lake

Mute Swan - a few birds always present on the lake

Mallard - always on the lake with birds apparently flying between here and Bohinj.

Honey Buzzard - one over Ski Hotel Vogel cablecar [Daily over Straža Hill behind
Mlino 1-7/8]

[Goshawk - seen three times over Straža Hill]

Sparrowhawk - 4 birds seen in Bohinj and Kranjska Gora

Buzzard - the most common raptor esp. in areas of mixed farm & woodland; up to 15
per day.

Kestrel - moderately frequent in farmland areas, but less so in the mountains - seen
most days

[Peregrine - seen four times over Straža Hill]

[Pheasant - seen once]

[Woodcock - roding over Straža Hill]

Black-headed Gull - Lake Bled 15/8

Yellow-legged Gull - seen on the river near Kranj

[Hazel Hen - described by locals as ‘secretive’; found in woodland above Bohinj and
in Pokljuka plateau]

[Ptarmigan - I was recommended to try the ridge east of Ski Hotel Vogel - Rodica to
Crna Prst, but had no luck. the mountainous area in the opposite direction
looks just as good to me!]

[Black Grouse - as Hazel Hen]

[Capercaille - as Hazel Hen]

Feral Dove - common in towns

Woodpigeon- scarce seen once en route to Ljubljana

Collared Dove - only seen a few times in larger towns

[Pygmy Owl - I was recommended to look in woodland above 1000m on the Pokljuka plateau (east of Bled) and to use a tape, but I couldn’t get to one and don’t have the other. Birds on Vitranc (above Kranjska Gora) responded strongly to my poor imitation of Pygmy’s call ......

[Tengmalm’s Owl - Pokljuka apparently holds good numbers of this species

[Tawny Owl - heard calling from Straža Hill]

Swift - 6 seen near Bled 14/8
[Green Woodpecker - seen near Bled 2/8, 4/8 & 7/8]
[Black Woodpecker - heard near Bled 3/8 & 5/8; signs of typical Black Woodpecker ‘demolition work’ noted in superb habitat around Bohinj]
Great-spotted Woodpecker - heard daily at Bled & Mlino
Three-toed Woodpecker - a stunning male performed brilliantly (down to 3m) on Ciprnik north of Kranjska Gora 15/8. See notes. [Pokljuka holds the bulk of the Slovenian population, but they’re very quiet & elusive]

Wryneck - one Mlino 14/8

House Martin - common around Bled

Swallow - very common around Bled.

Water Pipit - common on the slopes of Rodica

Grey Wagtail - regularly seen on the river behind Mlino & Bled

White Wagtail - very common

Wren - apparently scarce only heard near Bohinj

Alpine Accentor - seen on Rodica & Vogel above Bohinj , but quite elusive

Robin - common around Ljubljana Zoo, but otherwise very scarce - Bohinj

Black Redstart - a common bird in towns and around Ski Hotel Vogel

Redstart - found once near Radovljica

Wheatear - 3 seen on Rodica

Ring Ousel - 2-3 birds en route to Rodica

Blackbird - fairly common

Song Thrush - seen daily but elusive

Blackcap - very common

Chiffchaff - very common right up to the treeline.

Goldcrest - very common

Spotted Flycatcher - extremely common

Blue Tit - common

Coal Tit - common

Great Tit - common

Marsh Tit - possibly the commonest tit around Bled

Willow Tit - appears to replace Marsh Tit above c800m

Crested Tit - common in mountain pine woods, but often silent and coaxed into action by ‘pishing’

Long-tailed Tit - heard on Straža Hill

Nuthatch - very common

Red-backed Shrike - common in farmland around Bled

Jay - few seen around Bled & Bohinj

Magpie - fairly common in farmed areas

Nutcracker - seen above Ribcev Laz (Bohinj) [and on the river near Bled]

Alpine Chough - 15+ seen on Rodica at 1600m+ [and reported over Bled 4/8]

Raven - 10+ seen on Rodica [and reported over Straža Hill]

Hooded Crow - very common on farmland at lower elevations


House Sparrow - common

Tree Sparrow - behind Mlino and common at Ljubljana Zoo

Chaffinch - common

Serin - heard once in Bled [but reported daily the previous week]

Greenfinch - common

Goldfinch - common

[Linnet - on Vogel]

Crossbill - two birds on Vitranc and a couple near Bohinj

Bullfinch - found once near Bled

Hawfinch - seen several times flying over the road at several sites; [seen three times in Bled from the Hotel Golf]

Yellowhammer - seen four times in Bohinj and near Bled

Three-toed Woodpecker site.
Take the chairlift up to Dom na Vitrancu (from the northern edge of Kranjska Gora) and follow the path along the ridge. After 15 - 20 minutes you reach the first peak, Vitranc, where there is an open space and a number of bare dead trees. It was here that birds reacted strongly to my whistling. The path plunges down and then rises sharply again towards Ciprnik. After about 10 minutes walking the path levels off a little. There are massive ‘old growth’ pines here some of which a dead or dying. The woodpecker was feeding on these. I’d imagine it could be seen anywhere along the ridge. I picked it up by its soft tapping. The guide book claims that the ‘tree ... canopy is home to many ... woodpeckers that seem undisturbed by passing walkers.’ I found the bird and watched it down to 10m. On our return my non-birding wife & daughter found it at c3m! It was the only woodpecker we saw .....

Vogel - Rodica - Crna Prst Area.
Well marked paths criss-cross the area and the really fit might try to walk the full length of the ridge to Crna Prst. A whole day on the summit area could certainly pay dividends, but take sensible precautions (waterproof, etc., etc.). When I was there the weather changed from a clear blue sky to a fearsome electrical storm (with 6C fall in temperature) in 40 minutes!

Without a car (unless you’re fit & hire a cycle) this area appears to be out of reach. Presumably for this very reason it tends to be less disturbed than the areas around Bohinj. It seems to be a key habitat for Hazel Hen, Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Tengmalm’s & Pygmy Owl, etc.
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Old Wednesday 22nd June 2005, 19:40   #5
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I was fortunate enough to see this write-up of John's when I searched the net for Slovenia birding info.

The only addition I would make concerns the last paragraph. There is a bus service in the summer months from Bled to Rudno Polje (Pokljuka). I imagine it takes you to the cross country skiing hotel, from which you will have to make your own way, but there is plenty of scope fo adventure!
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2005, 19:17   #6
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Originally Posted by birdman
I was fortunate enough to see this write-up of John's when I searched the net for Slovenia birding info.

The only addition I would make concerns the last paragraph. There is a bus service in the summer months from Bled to Rudno Polje (Pokljuka). I imagine it takes you to the cross country skiing hotel, from which you will have to make your own way, but there is plenty of scope fo adventure!
I hope it was helpful! It's gorgeous country to which I must go back sometime. What did you see on your trip?
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Old Thursday 23rd June 2005, 19:42   #7
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Hi John,

I've been lucky enough to have been a few times (and we're going again later this year), both as a birder and in "my previous life"!

I haven't seen anything that might be regarded as mega, but I certainly have seen some fantastic birds that have otherwise been difficult or impossible to track down.

A brief list of highlights, in no particular order; Red-backed Shrike, Crested Tit, Hoopoe, Black Tern, Black Woodpecker, bucketloads of Nutcrackers and Jays, Black Redstart and Firecrest.

(Missed out on a few good 'uns as well!)

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