Italy instead of Turkey

Since we were able to finish our Turkey trip way ahead of time, we went twitching in Romania, but we also rescheduled our summer trip to Italy. This coincided well with a Black Heron rarity in Puglia, Southern Italy.

Arriving in Rome Italy, we immediately headed south towards the reported Black Heron. Ticked number 600 en route at a gas station, trash bird. It would have felt good to have the Amur Falcon as 600, but then again you can’t have everything.

Italian Sparrow
Italian Sparrow

Arrived at the sleepy little Mediterranean city of Porto Cesaro. We had received pretty good information from Italian friends, and we were able to find the Heron just after a few minutes scanning the bay.

Black Heron
Black Heron
Black Heron fishing
Black Heron fishing

This is an African bird, as far as we know, 7th find in WP, very good. On the shore there were also some normal Mediterranean birds, such as Yellow-legged Gulls, Audouin’s gulls, a few Little Terns and a lost Little Stint.

Audouin's gull
Audouin’s gull
Little Stint
Little Stint

Slept in Porto Cesaro after a spectacular full-on Italian dinner. Now, this is a country with food culture. Morocco, eat your hart out.

In the morning, drove north, long drive towards the mountains north-east of Lucca, close to Pisa. Camped late at night, high up. Early start, searching the steep wet slopes for Red-billed Leiothrix, an Asian bird introduced, probably by mistake as result of cage birds fleeing their captors. We found quite a few after maybe an hour of searching. Quick birds, hard to photograph.

Red-billed Leiothrix
Red-billed Leiothrix

Went from Lucca to the little village of Deiva Marina (where incidentally I were a few years ago, a bicycle race started from there) There were eBird reports of Moltoni’s warbler from that village. We found a pair almost immediately, too easy. This was a bird we had worried a bit about.

Moltoni's Warbler
Moltoni’s Warbler
Moltoni's Warbler
Moltoni’s Warbler

It’s not as hard to distinguish from the regular Subalpine warbler as you would think, the call is entirely different and the song has a different twang to it. Also, the coloration is pinkish, not red. However, the main distinguishing feature is the wren-like call. Some things are harder when you read about them than when you actually do them.

Tick on – drove further north, ticked Sacred Ibis from the highway. Abundant in the rice fields. Arrived in the afternoon at Lago Orta which hosts a category C population of Muscovy Duck. These birds were surprisingly hard to locate and we also feel uncertain of the actual category C categorisation of these birds. Anyways, the Italian ornithology organisation has deemed these birds wild.

Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck

Italians don’t speak english. Traveling Italy without being able to speak Italian you have to get by with body language. When we had ticked the ugly ducks, we got into a conversation with an Italian couple that just – well – spoke a lot of Italian. A lot. I couldn’t hold back and countered with Paperi Poperi

 

Drove to Milano and made a late evening attempt at Northern Bobwhite before crashing in hotel. Tried another site in the early morning and walking into the right habitat at dawn, we could hear the Bobwhites displaying inside the thick bushes. These birds were hard to see, hadn’t it been that the Bobwhites were calling we would never had been able to find them. Thus, it was lucky that we were able to do this Italy trip now in June, instead of as originally scheduled in July when we believe they are silent. Excellent birding in general at that site with singing Nightingales and Melodious Warblers everywhere.

Melodious Warbler
Melodious Warbler

Drove on, this time into France and the Alps. Arrived in the afternoon with spectacular weather over the Alps.

Alps
Alps

Birded the slopes of the mountain roads north east of Modane and shortly found the Citril Finch.

Citril Finch
Citril Finch

Started to walk the mountain slopes and found a displaying Rock Partridge after a few hours. The call is surprisingly loud.

Rock Partridge
Rock Partridge

Drove down the mountain in search of a camping spot and a Spotted Nutcracker flew over the road. We were able to tape in the Nutcrackers and got good views.

Woke up in the morning in rain and complete mist. Bad weather just came in. In this weather the Partridge would have been impossible, probably the Citril Finch too.

Next stop – Cyprus.

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Italy instead of Turkey”

  1. Hi guys,
    We Belgian birders are still following you since we met at Wadi En Salvadori and ticked the the Sinaï Rosefinch… You were at about 440 birds at that time, now 600, amazing.
    Funny to read about the ugly ducks of Lake Orta: I will spend a few days holidays with my family there early August, I will greet them passing by…
    Keep on doing well,
    Benoit

  2. Hi everybody,
    Last Sunday you reported a Sardinian Warbler in Nosate, in the same place of bobwhites et al.
    Did you see or recorded it? It’s a big rarity for the province of Varese (the only previous one is in 1898!), so more info about this sighting are very welcome.
    If you have some proof, please contact me at the following email:
    emberiza_cirlus@yahoo.it.

    Thank you in advance and good luck for your BY!

    Luca Giussani – Varese, Italy

    1. Hi Lucca! 

      Thanks for the input. We accually can’t remember this sighting at all. It must the the case of a wrong entry on the Igoterra app. And we did not double-check our list for that day. 

      We have now removed it from our list.

      Cheers! / Erik/Big Year

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