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A botched February ski trip remembering the Autumn (1 Viewer)

3Italianbirders

well-known member
Supporter
Italy
This post is mostly an excuse for writing up about our weekend (in October 2021) in the Dolomites (same place as last summer) for the annual meeting of EBN Italy. I had started working on a brief report when we came back but then somehow it fell by the wayside. 🙄

So, first the botched ski trip, which had been carefully organised months ago in order to coincide with a friend’s birthday in late February - they were coming from Rome (my hometown) and we were looking forward to meeting there and spending a few days together on the slopes. I was also hoping to find some time for a little birding on the side, given that previous skiing trips (pre-Covid) had been pretty decent on that front, with Snowfinch, Yellow-billed Chough, Crossbill, Nutcracker, Buzzard and Raven all seen from the slopes. But this time I was planning a few quick visits to the Tamers valley in order to try and find other species, such as Crested Tit, Woodpeckers, Eagles etc.

But fate had different ideas…

The offspring and I minus G got to San Vigilio at lunchtime on Saturday and proceeded to drive along the Tamers valley all the way to the end, for a quick meal at the PederĂą mountain hotel. On the way there the first birds were 2 Golden Eagles, which I mistook as a good omen. Driving back we stopped by a house with some feeders, which were full of Great Tits (must have been at least 15 of them), some Coal Tits and a single Willow Tit, then we stopped just before town to have a look at the stream and, sure enough, there was a very nice Dipper - it was within range of my small zoom, but unfortunately a walker scared it off.

So far, so good, except that the following morning the offspring woke up with a massive cold, complete with sore throat, temperature, headache, earache you name it… both a home testing kit and a rapid test at the local pharmacy confirmed that it wasn’t Covid. I was hoping that she would recover in a couple of days so we decided to stay, but as on the Tuesday night she wasn’t getting any better, the following morning we packed our stuff and drove back home. End of the story. The only other birds of interest were a couple of Crag Martins along the motorway (also various herons, egrets etc), flyover Raven and Carrion Crow and House Sparrows and Yellow-billed Choughs in town.

The October trip had been another kettle of fish altogether. Even if it was just one full day and two half ones we had a fantastic time. We had all the herons (Great White, Little and Cattle Egret, Grey Heron) on the way north, along with Great and Pygmy Cormorant, Sacred Ibis, Marsh Harrier, and various Buzzards and Kestrels.

Then up north, the usual Carrion Crows and House Sparrows, plus Black Redstart, Crag Martin, Goldcrest, Willow Tit, Yellow-billed Chough, Song Thrush, Crossbill, Dipper and Golden Eagle.

The next day there was a planned group hike up to the Fanes plateau, where we had already been in the summer, and we added to the tally Nutcracker, Coal and Crested Tit, Woodlark, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and surprisingly Pintail, Mallard and Teal in a pond at 2000 metres of altitude. The scenery was as breathtaking as it had been in the summer, minus the wildflowers but with the Autumn light and colours.

But the best bit came on the Sunday morning: a dawn excursion up a mountain in the next valley. We started from the car park when it was still dark and immediately heard at least two different Pygmy Owls calling, while a Woodcock flew over. We continued up the gentle slope, and at the crack of dawn we had Bullfinch, Nutcracker, Nuthatch, Crossbill, Coal, Crested and Long-tailed Tit. Over the treeline we had a Water Pipit, then continued uphill until we reached a sort of lookout on a slope where our guide said we should point our scopes. Immediately we saw a Raven mobbing a largish bird of prey which turned out to be a Goshawk. Just below there was a female Hen Harrier which then engaged in a prolonged skirmish with the same Goshawk. In the meantime, just below, we could see the real target of the morning: three male Black Grouse showing very nicely in the scope.

That was it. Time to head back home, but what a fantastic morning!
 

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3Italianbirders

well-known member
Supporter
Italy
... a few birds from the October trip and YB Choughs from the February one
 

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Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
This post is mostly an excuse for writing up about our weekend (in October 2021) in the Dolomites (same place as last summer) for the annual meeting of EBN Italy. I had started working on a brief report when we came back but then somehow it fell by the wayside. 🙄

So, first the botched ski trip, which had been carefully organised months ago in order to coincide with a friend’s birthday in late February - they were coming from Rome (my hometown) and we were looking forward to meeting there and spending a few days together on the slopes. I was also hoping to find some time for a little birding on the side, given that previous skiing trips (pre-Covid) had been pretty decent on that front, with Snowfinch, Yellow-billed Chough, Crossbill, Nutcracker, Buzzard and Raven all seen from the slopes. But this time I was planning a few quick visits to the Tamers valley in order to try and find other species, such as Crested Tit, Woodpeckers, Eagles etc.

But fate had different ideas…

The offspring and I minus G got to San Vigilio at lunchtime on Saturday and proceeded to drive along the Tamers valley all the way to the end, for a quick meal at the PederĂą mountain hotel. On the way there the first birds were 2 Golden Eagles, which I mistook as a good omen. Driving back we stopped by a house with some feeders, which were full of Great Tits (must have been at least 15 of them), some Coal Tits and a single Willow Tit, then we stopped just before town to have a look at the stream and, sure enough, there was a very nice Dipper - it was within range of my small zoom, but unfortunately a walker scared it off.

So far, so good, except that the following morning the offspring woke up with a massive cold, complete with sore throat, temperature, headache, earache you name it… both a home testing kit and a rapid test at the local pharmacy confirmed that it wasn’t Covid. I was hoping that she would recover in a couple of days so we decided to stay, but as on the Tuesday night she wasn’t getting any better, the following morning we packed our stuff and drove back home. End of the story. The only other birds of interest were a couple of Crag Martins along the motorway (also various herons, egrets etc), flyover Raven and Carrion Crow and House Sparrows and Yellow-billed Choughs in town.

The October trip had been another kettle of fish altogether. Even if it was just one full day and two half ones we had a fantastic time. We had all the herons (Great White, Little and Cattle Egret, Grey Heron) on the way north, along with Great and Pygmy Cormorant, Sacred Ibis, Marsh Harrier, and various Buzzards and Kestrels.

Then up north, the usual Carrion Crows and House Sparrows, plus Black Redstart, Crag Martin, Goldcrest, Willow Tit, Yellow-billed Chough, Song Thrush, Crossbill, Dipper and Golden Eagle.

The next day there was a planned group hike up to the Fanes plateau, where we had already been in the summer, and we added to the tally Nutcracker, Coal and Crested Tit, Woodlark, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and surprisingly Pintail, Mallard and Teal in a pond at 2000 metres of altitude. The scenery was as breathtaking as it had been in the summer, minus the wildflowers but with the Autumn light and colours.

But the best bit came on the Sunday morning: a dawn excursion up a mountain in the next valley. We started from the car park when it was still dark and immediately heard at least two different Pygmy Owls calling, while a Woodcock flew over. We continued up the gentle slope, and at the crack of dawn we had Bullfinch, Nutcracker, Nuthatch, Crossbill, Coal, Crested and Long-tailed Tit. Over the treeline we had a Water Pipit, then continued uphill until we reached a sort of lookout on a slope where our guide said we should point our scopes. Immediately we saw a Raven mobbing a largish bird of prey which turned out to be a Goshawk. Just below there was a female Hen Harrier which then engaged in a prolonged skirmish with the same Goshawk. In the meantime, just below, we could see the real target of the morning: three male Black Grouse showing very nicely in the scope.

That was it. Time to head back home, but what a fantastic morning!
Northern Italy, truly some of the most beautiful lands in Europe
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
A stunning area - and what a amazing combo - Raven Goshawk, Hen Harrier and Black Grouse!

That Goshawk is a real bruiser - at least compared to the super slim juvenile female in HK this winter

Cheers
Mike
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
Agree, those scenery photos are what us birders dream of, it looks stunning.
Fascinating to see Gos and Hen Harrier sparring, i would have thought Gos would have had the normal upper hand.
 

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