Country: Slovenia

Organisation: EBU - RTVSLO

Location: Cerkniško jezero

Lake Cerkniško jezero is one of the largest intermittent lakes in Europe. It appears every year on a karst plain, called Cerkniško polje, and disappears again during the dry season, so it is possible to paddle, fish, hike or mow grass all in the same area within the same year! The lake was first mentioned in Roman times by Pliny the Elder, and has been included on the maps of Europe since the 15th century.  Local communities have strong ties to the intermittent lake; the abundance of fish has attracted people and provided them with food since the Stone Age.  The intermittent lake of Cerkniško jezero is the heart of Notranjska Regional Park, and was designated a Ramsar site, together with the picturesque karst valley of Rakov Škocjan and underground marvel Križna jama cave, which ranks 4th in the world in diversity of cave fauna.

The biodiversity of Cerkniško jezero wetlands is extraordinary as well.  Over 100 bird species nest in the area, while more than 270 different birds were spotted here - representing ¾ of all bird species ever found in Slovenia.  The lake is one of the two nesting sites for endangered bird species such as common snipe, red-necked grebe, ferruginous duck, northern shoveler, redshank and Eurasian curlew.  The park's forests are home to rare Eurasian three-toed woodpeckers, hazel grouses, Ural and Boreal owls, and in the spring, we can listen to the sounds of the globally endangered corncrake.  Shy Black Storks and magnificent White-tailed Eagles hunt in this wetland of international importance, and raise their young in extensive beech and fir forests of Javorniki mountains.

As the importance of the intermittent lake for the endangered bird species goes far beyond Slovenia's borders, lake Cerkniško jezero has also been designated as a Natura 2000 Site.  It is also home to 45 mammal species (half of all mammal species found in Slovenia), 125 butterfly species (over 2/3 of all Slovenia’s butterflies) can be spotted there and 15 amphibian species (over 2/3 of Slovenia’s species).

On Air: Andreja Gradišar (reporter) & Tomaž Jancar (bird expert)

Andreja Gradišar: Andreja joined the team of Radio Slovenija 1 when she was still a student.  In recent years she has worked there as a journalist and a morning show host.  Her topics of interest include underprivileged people, social themes and the Middle East.  She prepares shows about animals, including birds, and her favourite bird is a Eurasian eagle-owl living in a cellar of a block of flats in Maribor, the second largest Slovenian city.

Tomaž Jancar: Ornithologist Tomaž Jancar is chief science consultant in the Notranjska Regional Park.  He is a chemical engineer by profession, a great lover of nature and a keen mountaineer.  As a child he spent a lot of time in nature with his family and has been interested in birds ever since.  Since 1980 he is a member of the DOPPS Birdlife Slovenia, where he was employed for fifteen years: four of which as a director, and in the end as head of the sector for bird conservation.  While monitoring birds, he discovered that many species of birds, particularly those nesting in the grass, are severely endangered by agriculture and that a number of them are at the brink of extinction (for example the Eurasian curlew or the corncrake), which prompted him to become actively involved in the planning of Slovenian agricultural policies.  He says it is difficult to choose one bird as his favourite, but has decided on the corncrake, because in recent years he has devoted his time to studying it. He also runs yearly surveys on its population numbers in Slovenia.

Key Species: Nightingale, Yellow wagtail, Reed bunting, Yellowhammer, Common whitethroat, Blackcap, Blackbird, Great tit, Common Chiffchaff, Tree pipit - and we are especially hoping to hear corncrake and great bittern, because they are very hard to find anywhere else in Slovenia.