ljubljansko barje


Although the Barje plains cover no more than 1% of Slovene territory, a half of all Slovene birds are known to breed there - about a hundred of them. At the Barje, the sizes of their populations reach twenty and even more percent of the entire Slovene population. Even more numerous are the birds that overwinter or stop here during migration. The most deserving for their diversity and numbers are the wet meadows - those that have not yet been transformed into arable land due to land drainage and are still being farmed and mown in traditional, extensive way: irregularly, late and without additional aid of various fertilisers. As such, they are an ideal habitat not only for birds but for many other species as well, and are, on top of it all, most pleasing to our eyes.

In the meadows, hedges and low shrubbery of Ljubljansko Barje one can quickly notice or hear some the most characteristic wetland bird species. Hen Harrier, Corn Crake, Eurasian Curlew, Common Quail, Eurasian Woodcock, Scops Owl, Whinchat and Grasshopper Warbler are those that have been included on the list of most endangered species in Europe and worldwide, but can still be seen fairly often in this part of the country. Which of course does not mean that they will not share the fate of Lesser Grey Shrike, Hoopoe and Common Snipe, which have disappeared from Ljubljansko Barje in the last decades, the same as the last and therefore most important colony of the Lesser Kestrel in Central Europe. Furthermore, there are some other more adaptable species that are persistently losing their fight against man and his ever-increasing appetite for the territory where these birds have reigned supreme not so long ago.

Corn Crake, this globally endangered species that breeds at Ljubljansko Barje, will be sooner heard than seen, for it likes to hide in grassland vegetation. We shall recognise it by its characteristic and persistent calling "errp-errp" or, if you like it, "crex-crex", with which the male invites, in spring and summer nights, the female to be locked in a loving embrace. In spring, Corn Crakes love to inhabit the meadows that have been inundated for a longer period of time and are mown fairly late. In the meadows of Ljubljansko Barje breed no less than forty percent of the Slovene population of this bird that has already disappeared from the majority of European countries, while at the Barje ornithologists have counted around 200 singing males. Unfortunately, their numbers are decreasing here as well, for their nests are threatened by early mowing, use of heavy agricultural machinery, abandoned mowing, and overgrowing.

Corn Crake (Crex crex) was given its Latin name on the basis of its characteristic rasping calling. Its Slovene name, i.e. kosec (scytheman), derives from the similarity of its calling to the sounds of a scythe being sharpened by a whetstone.