Wednesday, 18 January 2012

LESSER WHITE-FRONTS return from Siberia

This morning I went to pay tribute to the four Lesser White-fronted Geese, present since last week at Isola della Cona. The birds were seen among the many other White-fronts, usually feeding on the grassy fields just out of the reserve. As I arrived to the area I immediately spotted the 800 or so White-fronted Geese, just a few tens of meters away from the road. Within minutes of scanning I soon found the 4 LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. All were pretty obvious with a clearly visible yellow orbital ring (see the pics above). One of them had some more white on the forehead than the others and more black on the belly, thus suggesting an adult.
Unfortunately, after about 15-20 minutes of watching, some cameramen from a local television flushed the whole flock, as they walked into the field. What a shame! The flock moved to a central area of the same field, but quite far away. Thus the Lesser White-fronts were impossible to pick out from that distance.
As I hadn't much time to spare I decided to move towards Grado. Near the town of Aquileia I visited the area of Belvedere-Bosco San Marco. Here my targets were Stock Doves as it was quite long ago from the last ones (several years). Although regular in winter, the species is far from common and can be tricky to find. The best places are lowland-farmland areas with lots of other pigeons/doves around.
When I arrived there was quite a lot of movement as always here: 1 male Stonechat, large mixed flocks of Skylarks, Reed Buntings and +50 Corn Buntings. Separately were about 100 Tree Sparrows feeding on the ground too. A Great Grey Shrike was glimpsed flying over a hedge - later I couldn't find it again. Commoner birds included Jackdaws, several Buzzards, Kestrel, 1 male Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff, Firecrest ect.
The first pigeon-like birds I spotted were in fact 12 Stock Doves. The small flock circled around over the fields quite a while before settling, so I could take some flight images (see below). Even at a distance, the white-grey wing panels were really obvious and I could even see some glossy-green on the neck at certain angles.

Before returning home I made a quick stop on the beach at Lido di Staranzano to check the sea. The tide was very low and the sea very far... plus I had the sun in the eyes and there was a bit of mist too. These terrible conditions allowed me to pick out just a few thing on the sea and shore: 3 Goldeneyes, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, Curlew, Grey Plover, Dunlin and many common Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes.