4 May 2014

4 May 14 - Being Legless In Croatia Isn't A Problem

Mid afternoon saw us heading back up to the Velji Do road in the hills above Cavtat. There was a good selection of typical Mediterranean species seen: included the Eastern subspecies of Black-eared Wheatears & Subalpine Warblers, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Woodchat Shrike & Spanish Sparrow. Frustratingly, most species seem to quickly disappear into the bushes at the appearance of the camera.
Subalpine Warbler: Male. Eastern albistriata subspecies
The small village of Velji Do
The Ron Brown Pathway: This walking trail was set up in memory of Ron Brown, US Secretary of Commerce, who was killed in a plane crash in April 1996 (just after the end of the Croatian War of Independence which ended in 1995). The trail passes through Velji Do. Ian Merrill heard several pairs of Rock Partridges along the trail
Bosnian hills: Ken explored a trail from the village & found a Croatian sign he didn't understand that seemed to indicate he shouldn't carry on. On getting home, he got it translated & found it was a border sign & the track continued into Bosnia. Had we realised at the time, I guess I would have had to walk along it for the Country tick
Andy, Ken & Edge: The main track out of the village was explored, but wasn't that great for birds (it also stayed in Croatia)
There were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the wider local wildlife. We were really surprised the local hillsides weren't being grazed by Goats. As a result of this lack of grazing, there was a good selection of Orchids amongst the rocks (more of those in a future post). But surprisingly the Butterfly species present were pretty poor.
The rocky slopes were really good for flowers
Clouded Yellow
The best wildlife I found that afternoon was a European Glass Lizard. Apparently, this large, legless Lizard is harmless & feeds on the local large Snails we were commonly seeing.
European Glass Lizard: This harmless Lizard was over 0.5 metres long. Clearly, being legless doesn't seen to be a problem for this Lizard
Early evening saw us walking down to Cavtat, to have a look around & figure out which of the many places to eat in Cavtat, we were going to try. Might be a problem finding food later in the year, but it wasn't too busy at the start of May. Presumably, the German package tourists were eating in one of the large tourist hotels on the edge of Cavtat or were based closer to Dubrovnik. Cavtat is a nice coastal town & would be a good location for a family holiday, with some birding in mind.
Cavtat: Plenty of waterfront restaurants to choose from, but we ended up in another restaurant on another bay
Cavtat: I even remembered to appear in a photo (for once)
Cavtat: Another view of the old town
For any birder looking for an inexpensive holiday with Birds including the high quality Rock Partridge, Orchids & general wildlife, then this area looks a good option. It would work well for anybody with a family where non birding was also to be fitted into the trip. Prices for accommodation & eating out were cheaper than in the UK with a good selection of restaurants & accommodation. The return flight worked out about £150 from Gatwick with Monarch. Talking to a couple on the plane on the way back, their friends had flown out with Easyjet & returned with Monarch & thus had a few more hours in Croatia, for a similar price. The car hire for 2 days including full collision damage waver was about £130. We spent about £10 on fuel for the 2 days, with most of that on the trip to Dubrovnik. We found the locals were well used to tourists & English was widely spoken.

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