Monday, 11 March 2013

MIGRANTS BACK FROM AFRICA!

Today another exceptional full day of birding, this time further afield. I visited the usual array of coastal wetlands, mainly in the search of some year's firsts - which I found in great numbers.
Let's start from the morning. First of all I checked the Lisert wetland near Monfalcone and immediately the reedbed held a calling SPOTTED CRAKE and 2 singing MOUSTACHED WARBLERS. Both birds were just heard, so no views this time. Anyway it was great to hear that early warbling from the reedbed once again!
Minutes later a flying flock in the distance revealed 21 COMMON CRANES migrating east. Excellent! Spring was in the air with singing Chiffchaffs from every bush and the local pair of Marsh Harriers performing some amazing aerial displays. Other birds here included: Water Rail, 2 Song Thrushes, Penduline Tit, 13 Common Buzzard (thermal), 4 Stonechats (first migrant birds), Skylark, 2 Pochard (inner pond), 5 Lapwings, 1 Gadwall.
Marsh Harrier - male
 Reedbed area in the Lisert wetland
My next stop was a field near San Canzian d'Isonzo, where a flock of +100 Golden Plovers was seen in the past few days. After a bit of search I only managed to find 20 GOLDEN PLOVERS which was good anyway. Here we don't see these birds so often.
Can you see them?
Nearby was a nice male Hen Harrier with a just-caught frog in the talons.
Valle Cavanata NR held a few waders in the form of Ruff (16), Lapwing, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank, plus 6 Spoonbills. I checked the Averto canal just briefly and saw still a few Goldeneyes and Pochards.
The afternoon was spent at Isola della Cona NR, where I was joined by a couple of friends. Almost immediately a fly-by SWALLOW appeared in the sky - the first of the year! Later in the afternoon we had about 7 other birds making a quick appearance over the marsh. What a joy to se them back!
The reserve actually held the biggest number of year-firsts; mostly waders. These included: 3 Black-winged Stilts, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 10 Black-tailed Godwits and 3 Wood Sandpipers. To add a bit of spring essence there were also 2 GARGANEYS (m & f), a nice flock of about 150 Ruffs and an astonishing 1000 Lapwings (988 counted by myself). The waders were quite nervous at the beginning, because of a Peregrine soaring overhead, which later caused a great panic in the marsh.
A pair of Garganeys
 Black-winged Stilts
 Lapwings in the air
Within a miserable flock of 11 remaining White-fronted Geese we were amazed to find one of the LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE that wintered in the area. The bird was feeding on a grassy field just a few metres away from the second screening and showed very closely (see pic).

To round up the day we waited for dusk in the reserve's main hide and were rewarded with a flock of 15 COMMON CRANES landing on the mudflats to rest (below). A single Crane was also seen flying east, earlier in the afternoon.
A nice Bittern also flew past and landed in full view on a wet meadow (see below).
Other birds seen during the afternoon included: 5 Oystercatchers (on the mudflats to the south), 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 calling Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Firecrest (singing), Chiffchaff (singing everywhere), +10 Snipes, 1 Curlew, 6 Spoonbills, +10 Spotted Redshanks, 1 Temminck's Stint, 2 Marsh Harriers, 4 Dunlins, 5 Grey Plovers, 1 Common Redshank, 1 Grey-headed Woodpecker (singing), 2 Hen Harriers (m & f) plus all the commoner ducks, herons ect.
A day stuffed with birds!