Sunday, March 26, 2023

End of Winter

Oh my, it's been so long since my last post again. Here are a couple of photos from Autumn and Winter.

In early Autumn I visited a nature reserve Vodomčev gaj on their Day of open door. We saw a lot of animals up close and even held some like Common toad or navadna krastača (I tried kissing it, but it didn't turn into a prince)...

... and saw a demonstration how they catch the birds like Little bittern or čapljica... they weigh them (yes, they put the smaller birds heads down in a shot glass)
... and then they tag them. On that day there were plenty of different Warblers or penice in the nets.
I was surprised how patiently they were tolerating the handling, there was no fear or panic visible.

After the Summer sailing season Heron was in marina in Pula, it is juts 2 hours drive from our home. So we used the nice days to do some boat projets like replacing the exhaust hose. Here are both the new and the old one.

The old one was really tired, on the part near the engine it was even cracked through and sea water was dripping from it. So the replacement was urgent.
This is where it connects to the engine.
And this is in back locker - needless to say there is extremely little space through where the hose has to be laid and there are several quite sharp turns as well.
Here behind the Captain the hose is connected to through hull. 
Here's how the hose is made - it needs to withstand high temperatures from exhaust gases and salt from sea water that is mixed with gases to cool them down. 

One of my favourite pastime in Autumn is walking in woods and picking mushrooms. This past season was very good, we saw a lot of different mushrooms, not just edible ones. This is one of more exotic ones - the Devil's fingers or lovkasta mrežnica.

The Cep or Porcino or goban is considered the best of all eating mushrooms, and it's not just delicious but also pretty. This one was actually growing as on the photo - horizontally.
And this one was quite big, its cap was the size of my hand.
And some more pretty, but dangerous ones - the Fly amanitas or rdeče mušnice.
In winter we were visiting my mom a lot, and on nice days we made walks at the nearby lake or Mura river.
At our house we are regularly feeding the birds in winter, our bird feeder is quite near the house, so I can easily watch the birds through the window and even take photos of them. Here are some regular visitors - the Eurasian collared dove (turška grlica or Streptopelia decaocto) in company of House sparrows (domači vrabci or Passer domesticus).
These are my favourites - the Longtailed tits (dolgorepke or Aegithalos caudatus). They are not just so beautiful with their long tails and round bodies...
...but also have the most adorable little faces.
They are coming to the feeder for some years now and they are always in small loud groups, chatting to each other. Among other guests are all kinds of Tits (siničke), Woodpecker (detel), Finches (ščinkavci) and the pretty Goldfinches (liščki or Carduelis carduelis) with their red faces.
The winter is slowly ending, we had some nice warm spring days already now in March.  As we will spend more time outdoor and on Heron, there will be more interesting things to post in the future.

Sunday, January 1, 2023


 We wish you a fantastic new year! Our started quite bad with both of us ill, we came down with a virus. So it can only go up from here (see, my glass is always half full :-)

In absence of snow and winter scenes to photoghraph (today we had 15 Deg C) I'm posting a photo from couple of years back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

After some more detective work

I couldn't leave it alone and kept digging through internet about the gelatinous balls and mysterious snails I saw this summer. 
I learnt that gelatinous balls belong to bristle worms or Polychaete or mnogoščetinci, they are their eggs. Some are attached at the end of bristle worm tunnel like this one.
I found almost exactly the same photos as these below and these eggs are supposed to belong to Lugworm or Sandworm (peščeni črv or Arenicola marina). While the photos from Assateague island (on East coast of USA) look almost identical to mine, sandworms typically live in shallow water and could be seen on the beach at low tide. As I remember, mine were't that shallow, but I will surely measure the depth next time. So I'm a tiny bit sceptical about that.

But all of these do belong to bristleworms, of which there are many species, so it is logical that there would be many different kinds of gelatinous balls. If you wish to learn some more about these truely fascinating animals, here is a great article to read:
For now I'm happy to have figured out where the gelatinous balls generally come from.

There was also another mystery that was bugging me. It started with these two photos already last year, from which I concluded that this creature must be a mollusc. At the time it seemed to me that it was as big as my fist, but when searching for a clue what it might be, I couldn't find anything that would be that big. I was considering it being a limpet (strešica), but they are normally much smaller, or abalone (petrovo uho), but those are also not very big and not so symmetrical. So the mystery remained unsolved.
Sorry for this unsharp photo, but it is the only one I have of the whole animal.
This year I came across another one of these - again on very rugged and exposed shore. It was also overgrown with barnacles (morskimi želodki) and I found it close to the water line, as the one last year.
Once at home I decided I have figure this one out. Unfortunately I again didn't measure it, but again it appeared quite big to me. After much digging through internet I came to only plausible conclusion - it must be a Limpet (morska latvica), probably a common limpet or Patella vulgata. It is the only molusc of this shape that lives in such places and that has small tentacles around the fleshy body, but the real telltale were the patterns that it left on the rock on top right side of the photo, where it was scraping the algae off the rocks. Luckily I came across one photo of these marks, after reading through loads of different articles about limpets. But I again learnt lots of interesting facts, for example that limpets have almost 2000 teeth that are made of the toughest naturally made material, comparable to carbon fibre. They attach to the rocks not by suction, as was thought for long time, but with the special glue, it is still not clear how they can activate and deactivate it as quickly as they do. They wander around the rocks for feeding, but they return to their chosen spot on the rock to rest and with time they make a dent in the rock. Most sources state that they are 6 to 8cm long, so the ones I saw were either really big or my eyes deceived me and I only thought they were the size of my fist. Next time I see one of these grandmothers of limpets, I will surely measure it.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Holiday in Adria 2022 - part 3

From Premuda we sailed around Silba and anchored on W side of Olib in the afternoon. The sun slowly dried up the clouds and the summer weather was back. It was too late for snorkelling, but it was just right for a nice swim and a gin&tonic.
Next morning Olib looked pretty as always and I couldn't wait for the sun to climb high enough in the sky to go snorkelling. And Olib didn't disappoint. Almost right next to our boat I found the White Sea-Squirt (Bradavičasti kozolnjak or Phallusia mamillata).
There were also several small Common stingrays (Navadni morski biči or Dasyatis pastinaca) there.
I still get excited if I manage to make a photo of a really very shy Peacock worm (Pahljačasti cevkar or Sabella pavonina).
There were plenty of gobies of all kinds there - this one is a Giant goby (Skalni glavač or Gobius cobitis).
And this was my first Italian Keyhole Limpet (Italijanska strešica or Diodora italica). Only back at home I managed to figure out what it was.
I saw plenty of Mediterranean intertidal hermit crab (Zelenkasti obrežni samotarec or Clibanarius erythropus). Searching around in Internet back home taught me that it is also called St Piran's hermit crab in UK, named after the saint St Piran, patron saint of Cornwall. It disappeared from UK in 1980, probably due to the pollution, and is very slowly returning in recent years. It's definitely not rare in Adria.
This is the same kind of crab, but this one not only has the much fancier house, but a garden as well. On his house the red algae Golden seaweed (Topovejnata lavrencija or Laurencia obtusa) is growing.
As always in Olib I saw lots of tunicates, this is one of the social seasquirts (zadružni plaščarji).
These Green ormers (Petrovi ušesi or Haliotis lamellosa) were laying in the sand just like this, without my interference.
Late in the afternoon we sailed to the E side of Silba and in the evening we had a delicious dinner in restaurant Vrata Velebita. After the dinner we sailed back to Olib, there was a bit of NE wind forecast for the night and it could be uncomfortable on E side of Silba. Next morning the weather was great and the water nice and pretty and turquoise. 
I was lucky that we were not in a hurry, so after a late breakfast I got to go snorkelling again. 
And just because they are so pretty, here's a whole family of white sea squirts.
I often see scallops in Olib, this time I found a Bald scallop (Mala pokrovača or Protopecten glaber)...
...and a Mediterranean scallop (Velika pokrovača or Pecten jacobeus).
On these Mediterranean fan worms (Spalancanijev cevkar or Sabella spallanzanii) there were sepia eggs attached, they are those black grapes tied to the tubes of the worms.
This was one of the catches of the day - a Mottled sea hare (Veliki morski zajček or Aplysia fasciata). I don't see them too often.

And here are couple of more gobies - this one is a Rock goby (Mrki glavač or Gobius paganellus)...
...and this a Black goby (Črni glavač or Gobius niger)
Here the sepia eggs are attached to the tube of a tube worm, you can see that the tentacles of the worm are inside the tube.
This strange thing became not just the catch, but also the mystery of the day, I really couldn't figure out what it could be, so I took the photos from all sides. 
Only when looking at the photos on my computer I figured out that there is a shell on the bottom and on the top there is a big fleshy body, so I figured it must be a snail. And only at home by consulting all of my books I realised it was an Italian Keyhole Limpet (Italijanska strešica or Diodora italica), the kind that I already photographed the day before, only upside-down this time. It would make my detective work a bit easier had I turned it, but I never touch anything under water, I don't want to frighten or damage the pretty things.
I don't know whom these chimneys belong, but they are covered with Bryozoan (mahovnjak).
The shy Peacock worms (Pahljačasti cevkar or Sabella pavonina) come in many different colours. If you are lucky enough to come close to see them.
I was really happy to have the opportunity to snorkel in Olib twice and since the holiday was slowly ending I thought that snorkelling was more or less over for this summer.
In the middle of the day we sailed off and in late afternoon anchored on SW side of Lošinj in bay Sunfarni. We had a nice lazy evening with lots of swimming and nice dinner. Next day we sailed towards Unije but on the way stopped on N side of Lošinj near the small rocky island of Karbarus. It is a nice-weather anchorage only, because it's very open, but water is even more blue than in Olib. I had to go snorkelling and was very pleasantly surprised.
First I saw two guys that I don't see very often - Wide-eyed flounders (Širokogledi romb or Bothus podas).
Look how wide apart their eyes are, much more than with common flounder. And it is difficult to comprehend, that all flounders have eyes on each side of the head like all other fish when they are born and only later one eye travels towards the other eye on the "upper" side of body.
The biggest surprise were many octopuses that I saw, this one was looking quite frightened.
I again saw gelatinous balls, but this one looked like a sack and the funny thing was that it was pulsating. Usually they are not moving.
This one wasn't moving, and on my computer I saw that above it was another very small one. I still have no ideas what it might be.
And there were two more octopuses...
...and I think this one was the prettiest of them all. Or at least looked the most like the kraken. Or Jack Sparrow.
Later we sailed to Unije to bay Vognišča and had a nice evening and calm night there. Next day we started early and sailed over the Kvarner bay and along W side of Istra and stopped in bay Polje for swimming. Bad weather and strong NE wind was forecast for the afternoon and the night so we wanted to get to the marina till evening. But all the day NW wind was blowing, so we made another stop for swimming at island Kotez, one of the Brioni islands. On the way we saw many Mediterranean jellyfish or Fried egg jellyfish (Morska cvetača or Cotylorhiza tuberculata).
Then we decided not to sail to the marina but anchored in bay Stinjanska Draga. Even though there is a quarry on one side of the bay, it is quite pretty. There were plenty of boats there in the evening, but we were the only boat that stayed there over night. The wind finally turned to NE and became stronger, but much more annoying than that was loud music from the club on the hill and the restaurant on the beach.
Next morning we sailed into marina and we had one more pleasant surprise there - when we were almost turning into our pier we saw a dolphin. After tying our boat I went to the end of the pier and dolphin was still there. In couple of moments there were tens of people standing on the pier watching. I saw the dolphin again in the afternoon when we were getting to our car to drive home. It was a great end to the great week and great holiday.