Itinerary

In Europe there are relatively few species, which retained their original character. Slovakia, because of its abundant net of primeval reserves has, in this respect, a key position in Central Europe. A number of valuable forested areas, which offer refuge to many rare species of birds, can be found in the wider environs of Zvolen town. This trip includes more demanding treks and is designated for participants that are in good shape. On this trip we shall see birds that live in leaf forests, in mixed forests, pine needle forests, in meadows and pastures, wetlands and aquatic birds. Especially interesting is watching of birds active at night and listening to their voices in the Polana Biosphere Reserve.

  1. Day 1

    Arrival to Slovakia, accommodation, informal reception.

  2. Day 2

    Birds of Deciduous Forests – Xerophytic Populations (State Nature Reserve /SNR/: Kovacovske kopce – South) The SNR Kovacovske kopce – South shelter the best preserved Panonian (Matra) type of flora and fauna in Slovakia. The reserve is situated north of the Danube river, in between its junction with the Hron and Ipel rivers. Unique forests that gradually change into arboreal steppes cover the very steep slopes with many protruding rocks. An abundance of rare species of birds live in this area. For example, a few couples of Rock Bunting (Emberiza Cia) nest in this area that is the northernmost border of their occurrence. Also, we can observe here Hoopoe (Upupa epops) and birds of prey; at night, the European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) and rare Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops) may be noticed. A few colonies of European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) live near the reserve.

  3. Day 3

    Birds of Deciduous Forests – Rich Populations (SNR Sitno) The SNR Sitno is unique because of the occurrence of well preserved natural oak forests that cover the southern slopes of Sitno and reach the altitude of almost 1000m. Around the top of the hill, there are rock formations characteristic of this hill. They provide a great view of the entire massif of Stiavnica Hills. More than 50 species of birds live in the reserve and habitats neighbouring it. To name a few rare species, White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus), Wood Lark (Lullula arborea), Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Tawny Owl (Strix aluco), and Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) may all be observed here.

  4. Day 4

    Birds of Mixed Mountain Forests (SNR Mlacik) The SNR Mlacik represents a well preserved wild forest composed of beech, maple and fir. We can find here bird species that are characteristic of a Carpathian mixed forest, such as Coal Tit (Parus ater), Willow Tit (Parus montanus), Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus), Common Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Mistle Trush (Turdus viscivorus) and Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus). Also, the following rare species nest in this area: Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) – a glacial relict, White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) – the most endangered species of the European woodpeckers, Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas) – also on the list of endangered species; from owls: Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) and Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum).

  5. Day 5

    Birds of Coniferous Mountain Forests (Crater of Polana – traverse) The massif of Polana is the largest extinct volcano in central Europe. Natural spruce forests have been preserved around the part of the hill that was once the crater of the volcano. Mainly for their natural virgin-forest character, the area of Polana was included in the UNESCO network of biosphere reserves. The bird species that may be observed here are typical for the Carpathian coniferous forests: Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus), Crested Tit (Parus cristatus), Coal Tit (Parus ater), Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes), and from the rare ones: Tengmalm´s Owl (Aegolius funereus), Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum), Ural Owl (Strix uralensis), Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus).

  6. Day 6

    Birds of Meadow and Pasture Populations (Dobra Niva - Zvolen - traverse) During an almost 15 km long trail that starts in the unique Panonian grove Gavurky, passes by a fish pond, continues across fields, meadows and a forest at the end, it will be possible to observe a great variety of bird species. Except for the common meadow, forest and aquatic species, we may be able to see also several species of birds of prey. The following ones are among those that are rare: Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina), Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo), Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix).

  7. Day 7

    Birds of Aquatic and Wetland Populations (water reservoir Ruzina) Aquatic and wetland habitats have developed at the Ruzina water reservoir. They, along with the adjacent meadows, provide good conditions for the life of a great number of bird species. More than 100 species have been found here, out of which more than a half nest in this area. The water reservoir is exceptionally rich as to the occurrence of aquatic birds, especially during the spring and autumn migration. During the time of nesting, the following birds may be observed: Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Common Teal (Anas crecca), Garganey (Anas querquedula), Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), Common Coot (Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris), Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), and rarely also: Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena), Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) and Ferruginosus Duck (Aythya nyroca).

  8. Day 8

    Birds Active at Night (Polana) The massif of Polana reaches as high as 1458 m above the sea level. The foot-hills are not forested; however, with the growing altitude the oak, beech and mixed beech and spruce forests alternate until pure spruce forests prevail. A plenitude of bird species live in this wide spectrum of habitats. The day-active species may have been observed during the previous days. The night excursion to these habitats, however, yields a different type of an enchanting experience. At night, the sounds of some of the night-active birds may be perceived. Mainly early in the spring, the following birds may be heard: Tawny Owl (Strix aluco), Ural Owl (Strix uralensis), Long-eared Owl (Asio otus), Tengmalm´s Owl (Aegolius funereus), Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum) and Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo); in summer: European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), Corn Crake (Crex crex), Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis) and Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix).

  9. Day 9

    Farewell and departure from Slovakia

Basic information

from €749 per person

Duration: 9 days

Type/style: Guided observing and birdwatching tour

Level of difficulty: Easy

Languages: English, French, Deutsch

Pick up & Drop off: On your request

Birdwatching Ferruginous duck bird Eurasian eagle-owl bird Eurasian nightjar bird Hoopoe bird Great crested grebe bird Black woodpecker bird Red crossbill bird

Included

trip transport, accommodation in stylish 3* hotel/pension, half board - breakfast and dinner, guide services, information materials, entrance tickets and fees

Excluded

transport from airport to starting point of the trip and back