Prvo je zaštićeno područje u Istarskoj županiji – A Blog about Croatian Wildlife
Golden Cape Forest Park (Zlatni Rt – Punta Corrente) is the ‘First Protected Area in the Istrian Region,’ so the Croatian version is my title. (You try Googling something like ‘Quotations about animals in Croatia!’ It’s not easy.)
Here is one of many informative notices about the park. Like everything in the area it is in Croatian and Italian but the Park adds some other languages – including English.
There are cycle paths around the area.
We spent the first two weeks of May in this area and I have cropped out the main area of our walks from the map above. The hotel area lies between the town of Rovinj to the North and the Park to the South.
Here are the impressive gates between our hotel and the Park.
This takes you to a walk through the pine forest but we usually went slightly to the right for a coastal walk.
I looked at the flowers, often resting places for insects. Rock Rose (Cistus) were coming out and their flowers often attracted several insects.
There were also White Campion and Dandelion.
I should have looked more closely when I photographed this orchid. There’s a bug trying to pose for me!
I won’t list the animal life chronologically or geographically but more or less by taxonomic order. Most pictures come from the Forest Park or from Rovinj including the shoreline and hotel areas but some come from wider trips.
I normally start my lists of birds with  Waterfowl and then  Waders (including birds like herons, cranes, storks and rails.) Well I didn’t see any of those so we move swiftly on to  Sea Birds.
Gulls are not as common in the Mediterranean as in Britain but we were on the coast. There were always gulls overhead making their plaintiff calls.
Gulls in this area are all Yellow-legged Gulls. Here is an adult in close-up and two shots in full view showing the yellow legs.
Apart from the legs they look identical to our Herring Gulls and until about ten years ago they were a subspecies. Growing up for these gulls is a two-year process as the mottled appearance changes.
I don’t attempt to identify juvenile gulls from the leg colour. For the Yellow-legged version it seems to vary from orange to pink.
Cormorants are not easy to photograph on the water. They dive and come up twenty seconds later a long way away.
I saw these by Miramar Castle near Trieste.
These were taken at a little colony on Katarina Island where the birds knew that they were safe when we were quite close.
That’s it for sea birds. With a zero count for  Raptors and Owls I have to mention in passing the Scops Owl. I have never actually seen one but their call is repetitive and easy to spot – a single note again and again. Like most people we thought at first that the sound was some kind of alarm but we heard it every evening at our hotel just about all evening and through the night – but, sadly, no pictures.
In the  Game Birds and Doves category we only have Doves. There were a few Pigeon at some places as almost everywhere. Doves are difficult to photograph because they keep nodding up and down and pecking the ground.
We heard Collared Dove often but only saw a pair once.
Woodpigeon were even rarer. I did manage a couple of pictures but not good enough quality for display here.
Under  Others only two birds get a mention. Groups of Swift were seen, mostly in the first week, and we heard their familiar screeching sound. As their name suggests these birds are too quick for photography.
Green Woodpecker were often heard in the forest and around the hotel. This is another bird with a familiar easily recognizable call.
All of my remaining bird pictures will be  Passerine, starting with the Crow family. In this area of Europe there are no Rooks and the Carrion Crow is replaced by the Hooded Crow, seen more often flying overhead than on the ground.
I saw a few Magpie but by far the most common corvid bird was the Jay
The most common relatively tame species of our garden birds was the Blackbird. They didn’t mind me getting close but didn’t stop and pose. This young one was even less wary of human contact.
The Great Tit was another bird heard more often than seen and as always White Wagtail turned up at the sea edge.
(We have the Pied Wagtail, which is our subspecies of White Wagtail. The shades of grey are a little different.)
I heard Greenfinch a few times but only saw them at the tops of very tall trees.
Serin seemed to arrive in the second week, making their high pitched twittering calls. I did catch a pair almost camouflaged in a field.
There were others that I did not manage to photograph – Goldfinch, Starling, House Sparrow and Swallow. My last pictures of birds are a pair of Wheatear seen at the sea edge, presumably in transit on migration.
I have said above that the place to look for insects is in flowers. Whether you will find any depends on the weather, the location and time of year. I am not an expert and I get most of my identification from posting pictures in various Facebook groups. These are very good for UK sightings but more limited abroad so some of my labels may involve some guesswork.
I will start with Lepidoptera and, in particular, Butterflies, which seemed much more common on the first few days. This may be a seasonal thing or it may have been because of a few days of nice sunny weather.
The male Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni, is bright yellow (not as dull as its picture here) and the female is greenish white. There were many of both.
Much smaller are two brown butterflies I saw only once each – Brown Argus, Aricia agestis, and Wall Brown, Lasiommata megera.
Just before publishing this blog I saw this one, probably Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina.
I missed some other photo-opportunities including at least three Red Admiral and some small Blues.
To complete Lepidoptera we have to look at Moths. There were some tiny Moths that eluded me. This one was so well camouflaged that I only spotted it as it flew and landed. It’s a Loxostege (one of over fifty species.)
My other one was bigger, more moth-like – and I recognized it! It’s a Silver-Y, Autographa gamma.
The next group Hymenoptera includes bees, wasps and ants. I have no pictures of wasps or ants to show you but not surprisingly lots of Bees are found on flowers. I will start with the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera, and Bumble Bees. Note that the Italian race of Honey Bee has a large orange section.
(Bumble bees are what they call Bombus sp. I won’t guess at species without local knowledge but the last one was definitely a queen.)
The next one is Lasioglossum sp. Wikipedia tells me rather unhelpfully that this is the largest bee genus with over 1700 species.
There were lots of these tiny bees with large bright orange pollen baskets (corbiculae.) In my book the obvious candidate was Dasypoda altercator but they may be Andrena sp.
The one above is unidentified but my last bee is a Long-Horned Bee. I think it could be Eucera longicornis. Only the males have these long antennae. Wikipedia just says that the 32 genera of Eucerini, with over 500 species, mostly have long horns.
I have to include one other from Hymenoptera, an Ichneumon. My Collins Pocket Guide to insects calls them Ichneumon Flies and Wikipedia calls them Ichneumon Wasps. There are about 50 000 species so I won’t venture a guess for this one.
We move on to Coleoptera, Beetles. Suprisingly, these were also apparently quite seasonal. I will start with a picture showing two beetles.
The larger one is a White Spotted Rose Beetle, Oxythyrea fenestra, common in the first week wherever the Rock Rose were in flower – but disappearing by the second week.
Also within the flowers of Rock Rose were smaller beetles, Oedemera Sp., like this one that I persuaded to pose on my finger to show its size.
I found one flower with about a dozen (possibly O. flavipes) crawling over each other, perhaps in a lekking display. Those with thick legs are male.
Here is my only good picture of a female.
To complete Coleoptera here are an even smaller flower beetle, Malachius bipustulatus (as seen peeking over the top of my first beetle picture,) and a tiny weevil possibly Bruchidius Sp.
Hemiptera are what Entomologists call true bugs.
Here are the Mirid bugs Closterotomus biclavatus and Pachyxyphus lineellus.
Under Diptera, Flies, my best find was a small crane-fly Nephrotoma appendiculata.
Apart from that there were some small insignificant flies and a few hover-flies. This one was large and identified as Eristalis Tenax, one I have seen at home!
I know they are not insects but here are three spiders. The first two knew that inside a flower was a good place to lurk. The third one has lost two legs and looks quite ant-like.
Number one is unidentified; two could be a Napoleon Spider, Synema globosum; three looks like Asagena phalerata.
If you have been waiting patiently for lions, herds of wildebeest or elephants you could be disappointed. I have just two more quite small animals to mention.
I might have hoped for more animal life by the sea but I saw little. After a single distant Crab scuttling away I found a couple hiding by the shore on Katarina Island. They may be Marbled Rock Crab, Pachygrapsus marmoratus, or possibly some other species.
My final offering is a small green lizard. I thought it would be easy to identify a lizard. I found the European Green Lizard, which sounded good. I soon saw that ‘There are three very similar species living in Croatia and all three are protected: Lacerta bilineata, Lacerta trilineata and Lacerta viridis.’ They were green but none of them looked right. I found the Italian Wall Lizard or Ruin Lizard and the Dalmatian Wall Lizard both found in Croatia.
From their descriptions I think these are Italian Wall Lizard, Podarcis sicula.
It hasn’t really been a comprehensive survey of Croatian wildlife, just a few notes about the animals I have photographed, mostly birds and insects.
There will be one or two other blogs from Croatia.