Bee-eaters and orchids

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The weather during our second walk focused on flowering plants this year was pleasant. We had to change the subject of the first walk (and went birdwatching around the Morava River) due to 20 cm of snow in early April, which is very unusual in Slovakia. Today´s walk was focused besides flowers – mostly orchids flowering in this time – also on one of our most colorful birds, the European Bee-eaters.

We met at 9:00 am in Devínska Nová Ves and together we set off to Kobyla. Before our arrival to Sandberg we heard and soon after also saw a flock of Bee-eaters. These migratory birds winter in Africa and they return to their breeding grounds in the end of April/beginning of May, so the observation of them belongs to strictly spring or summer joys. Bee-eaters flew and sat down around the sand terrace directly over Sandberg. This place is heavily visited by people and birds are regularly disturbed here, so we will see whether they will stay at this locality or will they move to the lower, more quiet part. Afterwards we moved to the Slovinec with a beautiful view of the surrounding country. There we examined a galore of first spring flowers that were already fading away: Grape Hyacinths, Yellow Pheasant´s Eyes or Scorzonera austriaca . In this time Globularia punctata, Meadow Sage, pink colored carnation (Dianthus) and white Long-headed Poppy just started to bloom. On our route we came across a stand of unusual looking species of grass – Feather Grass.

Our next stop was dedicated to Bee-eaters again. This time we focused our scopes on lower part of an old sand quarry, where we can find the biggest nest colony of these colorful bird on Devínska Kobyla. While observing Bee-eaters at this site , the clouds have faded away and we were able to see beautiful colors of the Bee-eaters as they sat in flocks on the branches of the trees. If there was something that stressed them out they flew towards Morava in small flocks and after awhile they loudly returned back. After we gazed upon them for a while we moved down the blue-marked tourist path to Devín. During our walk we found many species of flowering plants and typical species of shrubs growing at this site (endemic buckthorn Rhamnus saxatilis ssp. saxatilis, Mahaleb Cherry, Wayfaring Tree, European Spindle, Hawthorn, Cornelian Cherry).

In an old limestone quarry we stop for the second main aim of our walk – orchids. There were plenty of them around. The majority of them were violet colored Greed-winged Orchids. We found also a few white colored individuals of the same species. Less common but much more interesting finding was Burnt-tip Orchid – one of the rarest orchids in Slovakia and one of the most common here, at Devínska Kobyla.

We followed the path through woodland part until we came to open space above village Devín. There we saw numerous pits as witnesses of the last week´s theft of hundreds of Pasque Flowers, Yellow Pheasant´s Eyes and Burnt-tip Orchids. Despite this was not the worst impacted place, empty places after plants made us sorry and angry at the same time. On the slopes we saw already faded away clumps of Yellow Pheasant´s Eyes, a few fuzzy heads of faded Pasque Flowers and a group of beautiful flowers of Burning bushes. Satisfied with today´s walk we descended down under the Devín Castle where few of us had a refreshment drink.

List of observed bird species:

Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Domestic Pigeon (Columba livia f. domestica)

Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Swift (Apus apus)

Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius)

Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)

Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)

Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

Great Tit (Parus major)

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

European Serin (Serinus serinus)

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

Some of observed flowering plants:

Yellow Pheasant´s Eye (Adonis vernalis)

Globe daisy (Globularia punctata)

Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis)

Southermoravian Long-headed Poppy (Papaver dubium ssp. austromoravicum)

Scorzonera austriaca

Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias)

Angular Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum)

Purple Gromwell (Lithospermum purpureo-coeruleum)

Burnt-tip Orchid (Neotinea ustulata)

Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio)

Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus)

Burning Bush (Dictamnus albus)

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