Tragopogon porrifolius (Salsify)
May 15th, the penultimate day of my holiday in beautiful Croatia. I had slept badly during the previous night but I was determined to head for Krupa and explore the entrance to the canyon. Such an amazing place. Hoopoe & Wryneck were competing with a wide awake Nightingale to decide who could make the most noise. Bee-eaters were already swarming North.
My goal today was to photograph some (live) snakes and also Western Rock Nuthatch and Crag Martin.
After an hour or so driving I turned right, off route 27 for Krupa and scanned the nearby mountains. Alpine Chough could clearly be seen displaying and 4 Honey Buzzards were trying to spiral up the days new thermals to get over the mountains. Nearby Black-headed Bunting, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift and Blue Rock Thrush were noted.
I started to head down into the valley but had to brake after 400 meters because of the snakes basking on the tarmac. As I left the car most of them made a dash for it but two were just a bit too slow. The snakes were the Four Striped Snake, Europe's longest snake and Horned Viper, Europe's most venomous snake. They were very placid as I photographed them for posterity.
Four Striped Snake, near Krupa
Horned Viper, nr Krupa
I continued onto Krupa noting more Snakes, Lizards and a Skink plus two fly past Red-rumped Swallows. As I arrived at the car park I noticed that the meadows were being worked and that the area was much busier than on my previous visit. I arrived at 10:30, parked the car, stretched and ... fell asleep. I woke up at 4pm not believing what I had done! The meadows were now empty and the sun getting lower in the sky. Most of a day wasted. Birds were few but I was not leaving without at least one picture. And along came a Sparrow.
Spanish Sparrow, Krupa
I decided to head for Nin salt pans to at least see something. I was absolutely fuming and I did get some funny looks from people who could hear me swearing at myself.
I stopped in a car park by the shore of a large lake called Novigradsko More. There was a fine looking church on a small island with a causeway. Very picturesque. Nice Italian Wall Lizard there too.
Crkva Sveti Duh, (Church of the Holy Spirit), Posedarje
Italian Wall Lizard
30 minutes at dusk at Nin produced more Little Terns some new Little Stints and Ringed plovers plus the ever present Black-winged Stilts.
Little Stint, Nin
Little Tern, Nin
I didn't see many reptiles around the camp but my friend in the picture below let me hand feed it tiny pieces of my steak. Cheeky sod!
Malcolm the Moorish Gecko (Sorry Mal, couldn't resist)
16th May, Home today but not until my 10pm flight. I had to be out of the apartment by 10am so the first job was to pack. I bought some food for lunch and then had a walk around the camp woods. There were lots of Golden Orioles and Cirl Buntings. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Tree Pipit and Sardinian Warbler were also seen. There were a fair few orchids in undisturbed areas.
Golden Oriole, Adult male
Golden Oriole 1st summer male
Cirl Bunting, female
Cirl Bunting, male
Serapias lingua (Tongue Orchid)
On my way to Split airport I stopped at Vransko Jezero one last time. A drove along the east shore for a while and came across the only two Hermann's Tortoise of the trip. Nearby there were several Montagu's Harriers displaying. Great Reed Warbler, River Warbler and Zitting Cisticola were all in good voice. Didn't expect the River Warbler as the main breeding area is in the North-east of the country.
Male Montagu's Harrier
At the canal bridge there were hundreds of Bee-eaters, Hirundines, Swifts plus Red-footed Falcon, Hobbies and Starlings chasing insects over the nearby fields.
From the tower hide bird watching was difficult because of the strong wind coming off the lake. However, there were several Pygmy Cormorants, 6 Whiskered Terns, 2 White-winged Black Terns, 4 Purple Heron, 48 Grey Heron and a Little Grebe!
In the shelter of the reeds several interesting insects were noted.
Eastern Willow Spreadwing
Violet Carpenter Bee
Back at the car and ready to head South but Croatia had a final surprise. My main reptile target, European Glass Lizard. What a fantastic beast.
European Glass Lizard
Before I sign off from Croatia I have an apology. At the beginning of my post from day 8 (Velebit Mountains) I showed off some pictures of a pink plant I called "Bauhinias" and thought no more of it. However, Philip Precey of Wildlife Travel ( www.wildlife-travel.co.uk ) sent me the correct ID, Dictamnus albus. What a plant and an opportunity missed!
"A great plant, a member of the Rutaceae which exudes a (toxic) flammable oil which forms a cloud above the plant and is quite flammable if you flick a lighter over it!"
Dictamnus albus, also known as the Burning Bush or Gas Plant!
I fully enjoyed Croatia and I will definitely be back. Great Country, Great Wildlife, Great People.