Croatia 2014

This year was the first time of running our Wildlife Watching and Tracking course in Croatia. We had a brief recce of the area last year and were blown away by the shear beauty of the area and also the amount of wildlife sign we observed in a short four days.  We knew then that this had the makings of an awesome course and this year proved that to be the case.

forest in sunlight

The instructor team went out a day early to set the course up and just a brief visit into the Risnjak National Park yielded Wolf tracks and Marten scat beside a small stream and as we were walking back we encountered a Fire Salamander crawling across the track.


The following day the course participants joined us and after a journey through some stunning scenery, a bite of lunch on route and a stop off in the nearest big town for a spot of grocery shopping,  they were introduced to the instructor team and our Croatian hosts.

The following day, the group went into the park and to introduce everyone to Risnjak, we followed the three mile long Leska trail along the length of which are 23 educational boards in Croatian and English giving a great insight into the history, geology, flora and fauna  of the area. We were soon immersed into this amazing pristine forest and what should have been a 2 hour walk, took all day as we became absorbed into new species of plant and fungi.

Lion's M‎ane Fungus ‎Hericium erinaceus
Lion’s M‎ane Fungus
Hericium erinaceus

We also found plenty of animal sign including woodpecker, red deer, hare and wild boar. The icing on the cake was to find fresh lynx tracks in the sand next to a stream on this first day. Considering that there are only a handful of lynx in the park and that they roam vast distances we were incredibly privileged.

Lynx Track
Lynx Track

We finished the day with a dusk sit spot next to a wild boar feeding spot.

The rest of the week carried on in a similar way. Days were spent exploring areas of the park from the Source of the Kupa river to the top of Mount Risnjak, looking for tracks of the local wildlife, watching the diversity of bird species, identifying plant and fungi species, and generally just soaking up this amazing country.


Evenings were spent sampling typical Croatian cooking as we were spoilt with some fantastic meals in our guest house……. I’m certain that everyone went up a belt size during the week!

In addition we;-

  • Befriended the park rangers and learned about their work and have struck up a partnership to work with them in future years
  • Dissected owl pellets to identify what they had been feeding on
  • Set up trail cameras
  • Played owl and wolf calls to attract a response and had a Pygmy Owl reply.
  • Examined hazel nut shells to determine what small mammal species where in the area
  • Learned how the local community utilise some of the wild plants to make medicinal preparations.

Towards the end of the week, we took it in turns four at a time to spend the night in the Lazac lodge.  Situated by a clearing in a remote part of the park at an elevation of 100om, the area is baited by park staff to attract bear and boar.

On the second night we were lucky to have a small family of wild boar come down to the baiting area. They waited until it was completely dark before making an appearance but there was just enough moonlight so spot these illusive creatures.

The lodge saved the best for last. On the Saturday the lucky last group  hit the jackpot as a female bear with two cubs crossed the clearing in front of the lodge.  We had spotted plenty of bear sign around; tracks, fresh scat, claw marks on trees and even found a hair caught on a fallen tree across one of their trails but this was the pinnacle of an amazing week.


All in all a remarkable trip, so much so that many of the people who went this year have rebooked for next year’s trip in May.  There are just a few places left here.

Below is a list of all the plant and animal species observed or that we saw sign of in 2014

Flora and Fauna Species List for Croatia 2014


Common Name

Latin Name


Lion’s Mane Fungus Hericium erinaceus
Cauliflower Fungus Sparassis crispa
Hedgehog Fungus Hydnum repandum
Horse Hoof Fungus Formes formentarius
Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella muscida
Dog Stinkhorn Mutinus caninus
Scarlet Elf Cup Sarcosypha coccinea
Shaggy Inkcap Coprinus commatus
Earth Star Geastrum sessile
White Cheese Polypore Tyromyces albellus
Split Gill Fungus Schizophyllum commune
Bracken Fern Pteridium aquilinum
Hart’s Tongue Fern Phyllitis scolopendrium
Silver Fir Abies alba
Mountain Pine Pinus mugo
Norway Spruce Picea abies
Juniper Juniperus communis
Hazel Corylus avellana
Beech Fagus sylvatica
Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
Alpine Buckthorn Rhamnus fallax
Ash Fraxinus excelsior
Wych Elm Ulmus glabra
Silver Birch Betula pendula
Common Dogwood Cornus sanguina
Large-leaved Spindle Evonymus latifolia
Elder Sambucus nigra
Bramble Rubus fructicosa
Raspberry Rubus ideaus
Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca
Dandelion Taraxaclum officinale
Common Solomon’s Seal Polygonatum multiforum
Blue Eyed Mary Omphalodes verna
Sticky Sage Salvia glutinosa
Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Dogs Mercury Mecurialis perenis
Purple Cyclamen Cyclamen purpurascens
Clematis Clematis vitalba
Alpine Clematis Clematis alpina
Stemless Carline Thistle Carlina acaulis
Perennial  Honesty Lunaria rediviva
Sweet Woodruff Gallium odoratum
Yellow Archangel Galeobdolon luteum
Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa
Wood Spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides
Angelica Angelica sylvestris
Tansy Tancetum parthenium
Alpine Aster Aster alpines
Autumn Crocus Crocus nudiflorus
Gallant Soldier Galinsoga parviflora
Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris
Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculii
Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus
Butterbur Petasites hybridus
Winter Heliotrope Petasites fragrans
Sanicle Sanicula europea
Stinging Nettle Urtica diocia
Wild Carrot Daucus carota
Wild Basil Clinopodium vulgare
Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta
Narrow-Leaved Bittercress Cardamine impatiens
Wood Avens Geum urbanum
Balm Leaved Dead Nettle* Lamium orvala
Rosebay Willowherb Angustifolium epilobium
False Lily of the Valley* Maianthenum bifolium
Large Flowered Calamint* Calamintha grandiflora
Broad-Leaved Helleborine* Epipactis helleborine
Lungwort* Pulmoniaria officinalis
Deadly Nightshade* Atropa bella-donna



Common Name

Latin Name



Sign Observed


Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra √ 2 seen Several dead ones on road
Common Toad Bufo bufo
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Footprints and droppings at Kupa source
Spotted Eagle* Aquila clanga
Buzzard Buteo buteo Feather found
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Black Kite* Milvus migrans
Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
Rock Dove Columba livia
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum Call heard and replied to recording
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo Pellet found at top of Risnjak. Pair seen in 2013
Barn Owl Tyto alba Several pellets found in grassy area behind village
Kingfisher* Alcedo atthis
Grey-Headed Woodpecker Picus canus
White-Backed Woodpecker Dendrocopus leucotos
Three-Toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
Grey Wagtail* Motacilla cinerea
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Pica pica
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Raven Corvus corax
Dipper Cinclus cinclus
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes Footprints in mud
Goldcrest Regulas regulus
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Blackbird Turdus merula
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Willow Tit* Parus montanus
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Coal Tit Parus ater
Great Tit Parus major Footprints in mud
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Serin Serinus serinus
Mole Talpa europaea
Noctule* Nyctalus noctula
Pipistrelle* Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus A couple of burrows found
Brown Hare Lepus capensis
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris Spruce cone and hazel nut feeding sign
Edible Dormouse Glis glis Hazel nut feeding sign, bones found in Eagle Owl pellet. Seen in 2013
Common Vole Microtus arvalis Runs in long grass, remains in Barn Owl pellet
Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus Hazel nut feeding sign
Brown Bear Ursus arctos √ Mother & 2 cubs seen Scat, tracks and hair
Wolf Canis lupus Scat and tracks
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes Lots of scat
Stoat Mustela erminea Scat at Lazac
Pine Marten* Martes martes Probable scat
Beech Marten* Martes foina Probable scat
Badger Meles meles
Lynx Lynx lynx Clear tracks in stream bed, also seen in same location in 2013. Associated with Red Deer tracks.
Wild Cat Felis silvestris Print and possible den
Wild Boar Sus scrofa Lots of scat and feeding sign, particularly Wild Carrot.
Chamois Rupicapra rupricapra Scat by salt lick on Risnjak
Red Deer Cervus elaphus Scat, tracks and feeding sign
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus Scat, tracks and feeding sign.


*Denotes probable


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