I started in the morning with a high tide at the wader roost on the beach of Grado. There were about 300 Curlews resting with +600 Dunlins and lots of Grey Plovers, but also at least 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 13 Kentish Plovers and 3 winter-plumaged Oystercatchers. A good mix. The sea held the first true highlight of the day - a SLAVONIAN GREBE swimming along some Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes. Close nearby, floating on the sea I spotted a raft of 53 GOLDENEYES (the firsts of the season). Two odd Crossbills and a Siskin flew over the beach, giving their flight call.
All the stretch of sea between Monfalcone and Grado was actually stuffed with Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes, along with groups of Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneyes and Wigeons.
The next stop was Valle Cavanata nature reserve where I was quite surprised to find 5 FLAMINGOS resting on the main scrape (see pic). The reserve is a good place for the species, but usually they only appear in single figures. Another good bird here was a Spoonbill - very scarce in winter.
Flamingos and Great Egret
SMEW (reported here two weeks ago) which showed well, even if a bit distant. Two female Scaups were escorting it around and also a few Tufted Ducks were present.
Smew with female Scaup
Smew with PochardJACK SNIPE. It flew off silently, literally from underneath my feet, before dropping down again in a nearby marsh.
The reserve held the usual variety of ducks and geese (incl. 450 White-fronted Geese) plus: 2 BITTERNS (firsts of the season for me), 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 female Goldeneyes, 3 Tufted Ducks, 1 Pochard, 2 Hen Harriers (male and female), +100 Lapwings, Marsh Harrier and other seasonal stuff.
To round up the day nicely I also had a look around Marina Nova - close to the harbour of Monfalcone. The sea here was again really productive with a nice group of 13 VELVET SCOTERS, 4 Black-throated Divers, 1 Red-necked Grebe, a few Goldeneyes and then an astonishing 4 SLAVONIAN GREBES (fishing together in one of the harbour's main canals).
A ringtail Hen Harrier quartering over the nearby reedbed at dusk was the final bird of the day.
One of the Velvet Scoters