Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Fairly Average Day At The Office

With the wind in the west and the sky best part covered it didn't remotely feel like a good bird day, but as I set off down a path I have never used before, this striking

Yellowhammer flew into a tree right next to me. Further along on the beach it was the turn of this

Serin to grace my gaze, which immediately flew onto a wire fence

giving me the chance of this second shot. And as if to make up the hat-trick this weird looking

House Sparrow popped out from nowhere, but I am still totally miffed by it!

Oh, by the way perhaps I should have mentioned I'm in Croatia? Now come on how many said "he's spassed up on the Yellowhammer and clicked the enlarge button on the Bunting"? For those who wouldn't know anyway it is in fact a Cirl Bunting, while the strange House Sparrow is a Spanish Sparrow, but what a day it has turned out to be.

I heard the Cirl immediately I left the small, beautifully appointed airport at Split on the Adriatic coast and followed it up without delay. It was one of probably 3, but a bit flighty it was difficult to prove. In the corner of the car park there was a small, c7, gang of Spanish Sparrows which took little time to depart when they heard me clicking away. As for the Serin, 'they' are just 2 of lots at all locations.

It was at this point I decided to investigate the little (broken) road opposite and I was not disappointed, in more ways than one.

This Hooded Crow put in a brief appearance but soon departed, with quiet a few more seen throughout the day in various places.

As for this Herring / Yellow-legged Gull someone will have to fill me in on just which L argentatus occurs on the coast of the Adriatic Sea hereabouts.

Over a mile down the road, and a few birds in the log, I simply fired a cheery good morning to the local cafe own, who reciprocated in the same way, and continued my search. On the way back I decided to see if they had any coffee, which Ivan said they did and summoned his wife Milka to put 'ut kettle on. I hadn't even sat down when he announced I was to eat breakfast with them, making two things clear, 1 it would be fish, caught that very morning and 2 there would be no charge. Luckily he had some English and we all started to get on very well together. The coffee was excellent, for which I paid, as Ivan got down to the serious business of BBQ'ing.

In the meantime, this rather strange insect appeared on his grape vine which we attempted to catch to photograph, but failed. Maybe one of the entomological squad can put me right on this please! By now the list was increasing by the minute, with Ivan giving me the local names for Blackbird, (proper) House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Swallow, Blackcap,Starling, House Martin, Feral Pigeon and even a Common Sandpiper. There was also a suspected 'fly over' Lesser Kestrel, but it was now time to eat.

I never did get to know the proper name of these fish, but they looked rather like a type of Bream.

These little critters were quite boney, but at sweet as a nut!

Dressed with a little 'home produced' olive oil, they have 120 trees just up the road along with a small 'market garden' where they grow a multitude of things.

It wasn't long before first the home made white wine was served, after which there was an insistence that I try the red, brilliant in both cases. While there was no urgency to leave I could see this turning into 'game on', so soon after their daughter arrived with one year old Rocco, we exchanged fond farewells and I beat a retreat.

Thank You Ivan, Milka and Family for a moment to remember.

Back at the main road it wasn't long before the Trogir bus arrived, and seeing a single Black Kite on the way, spending the next couple of hours looking around this quaint town of about 40,000 people.

I have no idea of the age of this beautiful little church, but as well as the architecture there were Pallid Swifts nesting in the little square holes in the stonework.

The Town Hall was similarly attractive and ancient

and the frieze in the colonnade was also interesting.

By 14-00 I decided to make the move north to the capital Zagreb about 350 Km away. A lovely comfortable coach took me through some of the most pristine countryside I have ever seen in the developed world, this is truly a fantastic country. No rubbish (not even small amounts of litter), no rusting farm equipment or other plant, no supermarket trolleys, watercourse clear as a bell with nothing to mar the banks, and very few huge hordings advertising McDonald's or the large hotel chains.

Petrol I noticed was a little cheaper than at home (about £1.05p), the toll highways were in immaculate condition with subsidiary roads about the same, but there were not a lot of birds. However, as we past through towns such as Trogio, Trogovina, Sibenik and Krpani (had to be careful with that one) Grey Heron, Common Buzzard, Jay and a male hen Harrier went into the log. The fantastic beauty of the mainly bush and scrub, much boulder strewn rough grassland and the majestic Dinaric Alps can readily be enjoyed from a coach, while the city of Zagreb will have to wait until tomorrow.

The end of month Statistics for the Blog show a massive increase as compared with March, showing 3,295 separate visits (an average of 109 'hits' per day) from 43 different countries, the latest being Pakistan, Japan and Bulgaria. I doubt it will be long before this fine land joins the list, it being good to know the word is getting around!

Received a most welcome e-mail from Mark Forster today clearing up the mystery behind the ship entering Portland Harbour in yesterdays post. I was correct in thinking it was the former Stena Inspector apparently, but it is now re-named as the RFA Diligence (A132). Many thanks Mark.