Birding in Croatia – Colorful birds of North Dalmatia

Recently, I have upgraded my photo equipment to be able to get some nice photos of Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus or Eja livadarka in Croatian) which breeds in the area. This  harrier has a very graceful flight, with powerful but elegant wing beats which give an impression of floating. I am waiting for more close up photos to create a special post but here is a lovely group of Montagu’s harrier hunting at dusk.


I am always looking for other birds species and this area of Ravni Kotari is known for several rare bird species and most common is European bee-eater (Merops apiaster). Beautiful in its flight, it is one of the prettiest birds of Europe.


I wrote about them here:

But, there is one even prettier bird in this area. It is a beautiful European roller (Coracias garrulus or Zlatovrana in Croatian)


This is a rare bird in Croatia with about 9 – 20 couples nesting but, in the rest of Europe, it is not as rare. It is nesting in old trees and the chicks are known to vomit a terribly smelling orange liquid onto itself to deter a predator.

And there are other animals hiding in the tall grass and flying the skies.

European green lizard
Common cuckoo
Common kestrel


Čavoglave and Spring of Čikola

Many are the places we learned about from the war years of the 90s. Most of them in Slavonija but many in the hinterland of Dalmatia. One of such places was Čavoglave. cavoglave-006

Best known from the iconic song by Marko Perković “Thompson”, Čavoglave has became a symbol of war in Dalmatia and a popular destination for everyone celebrating the liberation of Croatia on August 5th.

An old, 90s tank on its resting grounds on the entrance to Čavoglave

But, Čavoglave is also a place where one of the prettiest Dalmatian rivers starts its flwo to Krka river. Čikola is a very special river and has a dramatic canyon starting just south of Drniš. The river is 47,8 Km (cc 30 miles) long and is one of the longer Dalmatian rivers. I was always curious what the spring looks like and one of my goals is to drink from every spring of Dalmatian rivers.


The river spring is not even in Čavoglave but at the very border of a small village of Mirlović Zagora. Of all Dalmatian rivers, I guess only Cetina has an impressive spring and all others are nowhere near as dramatic as the main flow. Krupa, Zrmanja, Čikola, Krčić… Nothing special.

The spring is just below this house

The spring of Čikola is actually a small cave that is not easy to reach in Spring as there is quite a bit of water but there is a small path to it from the main, asphalted road.


It is prettier if you actually go to the big house (former mill) at the water and that is easy to reach but you just ask the owners if they are around. The river flows right through the fields all  the way to Drniš and it is a gentle, easy flow through really beautiful pastures and meadows.

But, it is not good for drinking… The river spring is just below the houses where people actually live or rent them out and the septic system is simply (or most likely) connected to the spring. But, no matter what the spring looks like or the quality of water there, Čikola is still very clean and a very impressive river!

Olive Groves of Modrave

One of the last untouched parts of our coastline is beautiful Modrave region between Drage and Pirovac villages in North Dalmatia.          modraveblog008

Historically, this area belongs to the people of Murter Island (since 1880) and it is known as one of the largest olive groves in the country. However, originally, this was the area known for its vines who were all taken out and olive trees were planted. The area is long 8,5 Km and wide between 750 meters and 3,1 km. It is the only area in the country that has shores on the lake (Vransko jezero lake) and on the Adriatic sea making it a very special and valuable natural preserve.


Today, only about 5% of the olive trees are cared for of 200 000 estimated trees in the region.modraveblog003

Today, Modrave look like a maze seen from above due to an intricate network of dry stone walls, piles of rock and narrow, ancient trails.


The area has several small harbors that kept locals safe during the bad weather and the huts were open to all who needed a shelter. They were often used by the sponge divers from Krapanj as well and several of them now are set up for accommodating guests and there is also a small and charming restaurant La Spuž in the largest bay with several buoys.

modraveblog011modraveblog004Aggressive nature of tourism and greed almost moved in heavy machinery to build a resort or, even worse, cheap apartment buildings but that was stopped thanks to the effort of the locals from Murter and Betina aware of the beauty of their heritage.

modraveblog006Hopefully, we will manage to preserve this beautiful area for generations to come.