|It's pretty clear where a lot of the funding has come from.|
On Wednesday (02/03/2016) I was at the inauguration of the new DOPPS visitor centre at Škocjanski Zatok - Val Stagnon on the outskirts of Koper - Capodistria, Slovenia's 3rd city and only port. Everybody who knows me is aware I have been a great admirer of DOPPS, Birdlife International's partner in Slovenia, since I became aware of their work around the time of the break-up of Yugoslavia. They are immensely professional, achieving huge amounts over the decades with limited resources and endless commitment.
|Radipole Lake, Dorset, UK (l.) and Škocjanski Zatok, Koper, Slovenia (r.)|
|An Istrian Ox or Boškarin and a Cattle Egret (summer picture, photo Domen Stanič)|
|The main visitor centre set in an industrial estate but with the great backdrop of a |
snow-capped Monte Slavnik - Taiano in NE Istria
|Cranes 'n' cranes. At about 2pm on inauguration day the reserve was 'blessed' with a flock of about 200 cranes passing over the Visitor Centre, trumpetting. The 'augurs' were a sort of Roman high priest of good luck. One was said to his work "Agere augurium, aves specit" - "to conduct the augurium, he observed the birds". The Ancient Greeks too practised Ornithomancy. On that basis the future of Škocjanski Zatok is very rosy indeed! (r.h. photo Domen Stanič)|
|Lucky young DOPPSers enjoying the sun and the new visitor centre|
It's important I finish this blog being upbeatand positive. The buildings are beautiful and functional. There was a great crowd and I'm sure the bar and shop will do a roaring trade so close to the city and so close to Trieste. Whatever an old ex-pat. fart says or thinks, banging on about the "the suburbanisation of birding" or feels in his 'se stava mejo quando se stava pezo'* head, it matters not a jot. I wish DOPPS every success with the magnificent new visitor centre and the thousands of lucky schoolkids who will get to visit it each and every year. There was certainly nothing like that for us when we were young. Well done DOPPS!
To re-set my brain, to de-suburbanise it and get everything back in perspective, without EU project financing and disabled access, cream teas and T-shirts in the gift shop I set off with Domen in search of one of Europe's more elusive birds. I've had no luck with this species at all this winter and I better get some soon as I'm supposed to be showing it to people next week. Domen's hunch was correct. There it was in all its glory. If I were an ornithomancer I would say my luck's changed. We'll see.
|Wednesday's Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) - photo Domen Stanič|