Saturday, 28 January 2012

BOOTED EAGLE, raptors galore & rare waders

pics by Paolo Utmar
Late in the morning me and a friend decided to do some "light" birding in the coastal areas around Grado. In the past few days the situation was quite interesting there with several reported scarce waders on the beach and most interesting: a Booted Eagle - local rarity!
We started with a wrong tide on the beach of Banco Mula di Muggia near Grado. Despite the low water level and some large areas of exposed mudflats, the waders were still tightly packed on their usual roosting site. After a while of scanning through the hundreds of Dunlins and Grey Plovers we soon found several Bar-tailed Godwits (4-6 in total). Some nice stockier and rounded waders appeared shortly nearby: at leats 3 Red Knots. This is one of the scarce species of waders we see here in winter. Usually it is found in single figures or small numbers. A few days ago there were about 14, but today we could only see 3-4. Anyway, always a great find and nice to see here! The second unusual thing we got was a winter plumaged Black-tailed Godwit, among the other Bar-taileds. This is probably one of the few records of wintering BTG in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Also this bird was reported few days ago. In the area we could also see 5-6 Kentish Plovers, 1 Sandwich Tern, 1 ad Mediterranean Gull and several Goldeneyes and Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea.
Later we moved to Bosco San Marco-Belvedere (near Aquileia) the winter raptor hot-spot! Shortly after arriving, a massive flock of Woodpigeons took off from the fields and we were immediately alerted by the presence of a bird of prey. A female Goshwak flew past...and almost at the same time, higher in the sky a Peregrine materialised. Both raptors entertained us for a few minutes, causing panic among the pigeons and doves. Later we saw the Goshawk several times, also perched on a pine. Then around 15.00 pm "the big one" appeared: a splendid white-morphed BOOTED EAGLE flying past over the fields!! Wow! We lost it as it dropped over some pines, but it later gave some more flight views - quite brief unfortunately. As it then headed out towards some far-away fields, we checked the distant trees and re-found the bird, sitting on the top of a distant pylon. Even at a distance the pale, cream markings were clearly visible on the back, as well as the different body structure and jizz. The above photos, taken by Paolo Utmar on 26th Jan, show the Booted Eagle in question.
Also in the area were many of the other usual birds like Skylarks and Reed Buntings, 1 Sparrowhawk, several Kestrels and Buzzards and some Firecrests in the pines.
We had a quick look in the lagoon of Grado too, which produced: Greenshanks and Redshanks, lots of Dunlins and Grey Plovers, flock of 40 Shelducks, Curlew, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebe, 1 Kingfisher and Wigeon.
Total score: 6 raptors today!