Croatia Day 2, 7th May, Nin salt pans & Pag


Crested Lark, Velo Blato, Pag
 
 
My first full day in Croatia. I had expected an early start but 2:45am was beyond stupid. Then I discovered what had woken me...a pair of Eurasian Scops Owls duetting. They were so loud that I thought they were on the end of the bed! I didn't see them but they saw me because the noise stopped when I went outside and then started again deeper into the Pine wood.
A few other birds were making their presence heard over the noise of the Cicada's. The ubiquitous Nightingale of course, an unexpected European Nightjar and something else which, after 15 minutes on the Xeno Canto website, was identified as Long-eared Owl, again unexpected.
Back to the land of Nod.
Woke again at a more reasonable hour and had a stroll around the woodland attached to the site. Lots of common birds such as Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch but also some typically Mediterranean species such as Golden Oriole, Hoopoe and Cirl Buntings. Brown Hare was also seen. A few pieces of log were turned over and mainly produced a variety of Ants but also some of the largest, most vicious, Centipedes I have ever seen. 
Wild flowers were in perfusion. These are just three...
Butterfly Orchid, Anacamptis papilionacea

Bertoloni's Bee Orchid, Ophrys bertolonii

Tassel Hyacinth, Muscari comosum
 
The main plan for today was to visit Nin salt pans and the island of Pag searching for Rock Partridge mainly. The route is below.
Day 2 route.
Site A - Nin Salt Pans
 
First stop was the, nearby, Salt Pans at Nin. The pans are still working and they are quite a tourist attraction, along with the museum. The water levels do vary which can affect the birds seen. A road bisects the pans and there is a raised viewing platform for birdwatching, parking off the road, on the verge. Black-winged Stilts were obvious, as were the Little Terns, This is the only site where Little Terns were seen. Up to 30 birds at any one time.

 "Bird On A Stick!", Black-winged Stilt, Nin
Little Tern, Nin
 
There were a variety of waders on show. Nin is one of only 3 sites which host nesting Kentish Plover in Croatia. Several pairs were on show alongside Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers. Sandpipers were represented by Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, and Spotted Redshank. A small, pale wader, on it's own drew my attention. TEREK SANDPIPER! a Croatian rarity, though I didn't know how rare at the time. Two Eurasian Spoonbills were also present. A handful of Wagtails were all Black-headed Wagtails.
Curlew Sandpiper, Nin




video
male Black-headed Wagtail, M. f. feldegg, Nin
Nin salt pans

Nin, the extremely old footbridge and some of the town fortifications.
 
Site B
The second site today was the parking area just after crossing the famous Pag Bridge. The landscape looks barren but holds Blue-Rock Thrush, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and Short-toed Lark.
Pag Bridge

Velebit range from Pag.
Site C

Next stop before heading for Velo Blato wetlands was the view points overlooking Pag Town. There are great views of the surrounding area. Birds included a female Rock Thrush, Tawny Pipit, European Bee-eater, female Red-footed Falcon and Lesser Kestrel. Several Rock Partridge could be heard close by but none were seen.
Site D
After lunch I decided to head for Velo Malo but accidentally turned off before the actual road at the Village of Gorica. What a stroke of luck. The road went through reed beds up to 8ft high with wet, clear, areas between them. It was here I added a lifer with a singing male Eastern Orphean Warbler. Melodious Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, and Red-backed Shrikes were also present along with 15 Green Sandpipers, 44 Wood Sandpipers, 18 Little Stint and a Dunlin.
Following the road right led to a change in habitat with grassy fields and thick bushes. A stop near the junction with the main road produced Stone Curlew, Quail, Common Redstart and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler...another lifer. The final piece of track is not for the faint hearted.
Red-backed Shrike, nr Gorica
 
Site E
The penultimate stop was Velo Malo which is the summer residence of several pairs of Montagu's Harrier. Lots of Rock Partridges were heard on nearby farmland but, again, none were seen. Crested Lark and Skylark were plentiful.

Montagu's Harrier, male, Velo Malo
Site F - Velo Blato (P=parking)
The last site of the day was Velo Blato. Probably the only real area of standing water on the whole island. A Pygmy Cormorant showed well as did Squacco Heron and Glossy Ibis. Less cooperative but still seen were a pair of Great-spotted Cuckoos flushed accidentally from a small plantation, Golden Oriole and Moustached Warbler. Stone Curlew and Rock Partridge were both heard but not seen. Bee-eaters were more common here.


Crested Lark, Velo Blato


Squacco Heron, Velo Blato
Well that's it for day 2. A hot meal and a comfy bed beckon.
 
Off to Veliko Rujno for day 3.





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