Sunday, 29 January 2012

PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER twitch (!!) and the Pine Buntings that followed

We succedeed at last!
Today me and a bunch of other birders from Trieste tried again our luck with the proregulus near Treviso. As soon as we arrived to the place where it was usually reported (at 9.50 am) we joined a small group of birders that were already watching the bird. A few indications of its whereabouts were given to us, a quick look on a high tree and seconds after, binoculars on it: a gorgeous tiny **PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER** showing off its little golden crown and yellowish rump! Wooow!! Yes! Pure excitement followed as we enjoyed this magnificent little dwarf of the Siberian forests. It was on a constant move among the high twigs of alder trees, sometimes venturing a bit lower on some ivy.
After the first few minutes of watching, it then decided to show itself even better and started to descend the trees. From that time onwards we colud almost constantly watch it on low bushes at the sides of the Storga stream. Here it joined a group of 15 or so hyperactive Common Chiffchaffs and showed extremely well until 12.40 am - for nearly three hours! It usually preferred to stick around a low waterside bush just 2-3 meters away from us, making small flights over the water's surface and hovers as well. We all enjoyed the bird, showing off the typical characters for the rest of our stay. Due to its very mobile and restless behaviour I didn't even try to take some good pictures, but preferred to have some prolonged views instead. I did actually manage to take a few shots for documentation (above). The photographers pictured below were quite keen to take loads of full-frame pics and were very successfull.
Among the other Chiffchaffs there was still one Siberian Chiffchaff that gave close views as well. Higher up in the alder a few Siskins were also of note and a Cetti's Warbler sang nearby.
Photographers in action...

...and the result - by Igor Maiorano (here too):

And this is the bird as seen with naked eye:

Just before 13.00pm we decided to change location and visit the wintering stronghold of Pine Buntings in North-east Italy - Magredi del Meduna near Pordenone. Walking the vast gravelly bushy areas, we could immediately spot part of a large mixed flock of buntings. Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings were the commonest, with several colorful Rock Buntings too. Not long afterwards I already had in my scope a female PINE BUNTING followed by a nice male. As we continued to walk around, flushing hundreds of buntings from the ground, we could enjoy them on the trees (pics below). We managed to find 3 other males and at least 4-6 females, for a total of at least 10 Pine Buntings! Two males were especially handsome-looking with very bright white and reddish colouring on the face. A real pleasure to see them so well!
On the higher trees, flocks of Fieldfares moved around - we counted at least 40 birds. Among them was also a nice REDWING showing its reddish flanks. Just before ending the walk we added 6 Cirl Buntings to our day lists.
Pine Bunting male:

Pine Bunting female:

"Motorway sightings" earlier in the morning included 3 ROOKS near Palmanova and a flying Pygmy Cormorant near Cessalto.

I spent a really enjoyable Sunday, seeing great birds (special thanks go to the Pallas's Warbler!) and being in the good company of fellow birders.
I would call this one of those "memorable days"!