Croatia Day 4 - 9th May - Krka National Park & Vransko Jezero

Little Bittern, Vransko Jezero
 
Todays Route
This day was supposed to be an all day affair at Krka NP, famous for its waterfalls, scenic views and wildlife. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to expectations but it was a good day none the less.
I deliberately missed out the motorway but the journey would have been far quicker if used.
I stopped first at Nin salt pans but the water levels were altered and the birds were increasingly dispersed across the pans. A few Spoonbills and a selection of common waders were the only things to be seen.
Eurasian Spoonbill - juvenile, Nin
I continued my round about drive towards Krka but soon stopped at the outskirts of the village of Galovac.
Galovac "T"-junction - Site A
A flock of Bee-eaters and Hirundines made me pull over at a T junction just east of Galovac. The area consisted of scrub, Oak wood and Pines. There is a cemetery close by with a large Spanish Sparrow colony. At least 6 Golden Orioles were singing here plus several Woodchat Shrikes and Cirl Buntings. There were several thousand Swift, Pallid Swift. Swallow and House Martin mixed in with 200+ Bee-eaters. The noise was amazing. This area would be worth checking further if time allowed.
Common Swift
 Golden Oriole, male
Woodchat Shrike, male
After a short stop I continued NE then SW past the village of Nadin.
Nadin - Site B
I wasn't going to stop but the sight of a fantastic Short-toed Eagle hunting by the road was a suitable bribe. Several Montagu's Harriers were hunting around the Olive groves and, yet again, Rock Partridge was heard nearby but not seen. The farmland in this part of Croatia is supposed to be very good for Olive-tree Warbler, I didn't see or hear any at my stop but I did get an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler singing from nearby brambles. A Stone Curlew could be seen amongst the Olive trees. Still lots of Bee-eaters overhead. I estimated 1000 (thousand) birds during the short time I was there.
European Bee-eater, Nadin
Pokrovnik - Site C




I pushed on to Krka and my destination of Pokrovnik. a stake out for Calandra and Short-toed Larks. The countryside was perfect but the only larks I collected were Crested Lark and my first Sky Lark of the trip. However, there was recompense in the form of my first ever Olive-tree Warbler singing away nearby. These birds can really hide despite their size.
Pokrovnik church tower
Sky Lark, Pokrovnik
Skradn - Site D
I really should have done a bit more homework on this area and travelled toward the top (Eastern end) of the park. Everywhere I went was inundated with tourists and parking was at a premium. In the end I headed toward Skradn. It was absolutely beautiful. Lush valley, blue lakes, waterfalls but lots of tourists, even on a weekday. I eventually parked and had a quick scout. Common Buzzard, Serin, Cuckoo and Alpine Swift were seen. The sparrows in town were House Sparrows! I ate at a restaurant opposite the car park and ordered, much to the waiters delight, the local delicacy of Skradinski Risotto, a rich, meaty, risotto which, apparently, takes 12 hours to cook properly. Luckily I didn't have to wait that long.
Arum italicum

Dalmatian Wall Lizards, female (top) & male
Speedwell sp. Skradn
Vransko Jezero - Site E
After Skradn I decided to move across to Lake Jezero where I had visited briefly on my first afternoon. It took a while along a convoluted route. The only new birds were a pair of Northern Wheatears. Aesculpian and Dice Snakes were seen basking in the road along with Green Wall Lizards. Nearly all road kill in Croatia is reptile!
At Vransko Jezero I parked at the bridge and looked over the side. Thankfully I had my camera in my hands as a female Little Bittern made a bid for freedom.





Little Bittern, Vransko Jezero
I walked to the hide listening to the various warblers when a strange noise made me turn around only to see a female Little Crake, my first ever, running across the path behind me. I must have walked right past it. On the lake were thousands of Hirundines & Swifts. The reeds were bending toward the water due to the weight of the birds as they went to roost.
Sand Martins on reeds
A sleepy Barn Swallow
A quick walk around the ringing station produced Red-backed Shrikes, Marsh Harrier, Spotted Flycatcher and Marsh Warbler.
Red-backed Shrike
Spotted Flycatcher
That's it for the 9th May. I need a rest now, if only I could keep that Scops Owl quiet.
Sunset over the Adriatic








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