The Slovenia Times

Chance to spot Northern bald ibis at Lake Cerknica

Environment & NatureTravels

A northern bald ibis, a large migratory bird long considered extinct, has been spotted near Lake Cerknica in the south-central Slovenia. The bird is bred in Austria as part of a repopulation project and equipped with a GPS tracker.

"It travelled from Austria to Venice, to the Trieste Gulf, across Istria to Pula, crossing the Kvarner Gulf to Rijeka and then over Ilirska Bistrica and the Javorniki Hills to our lake," photographer Zoran Vidrih described the bird's route for RTV Slovenija.

The bird, named Paride, is male and five years old. It will likely stay at the lake for a day or two and then head for its wintering grounds in Calabria in Italy or even further south, said Vidrih.

The northern bald ibis used to inhabit the Near East, Northern Africa and South and Central Europe, including Slovenia, as evidenced by old church fresco paintings depicting the bird. It disappeared from Europe more than 400 years ago, the Notranjska Regional Park said in a press release on 6 October.

A small population survived in Morocco, Algeria, Turkey and Syria. As part of the project Life+ Reason to Hope by Waldrappteam, the bird is being reintroduced in Europe, mainly Austria and Italy.

Bird lovers have a rare chance to see the bird in person, but they should make their way to Lake Cerknica quick. Even if they miss it, the lake is a paradise for bird watchers throughout the year with more than 300 species of birds spending at least part of the year there.

Alternatively, the frescoes of northern bald ibis can be seen in the Holy Trinity Church in Hrastovlje in south-western Slovenia or the local church in Gradišče pri Divači. The bird also features on the portal of Lukovec Castle in Lukovica pri Brezovici in central Slovenia.

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