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Birding in Southern Tuscany and thereabouts (1 Viewer)

3Italianbirders

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Italy
Another new species for 2021 today: we spent some time in a field taking photos of a mixed group of Lesser Kestrels (7-8, mostly females with a couple of males) and Red-footed Falcons (5, all males in various plumages), seeing little else apart from a Buzzard, the usual Corn Buntings and Skylarks, and the second Roller of the year. While we were driving back towards home, we saw two Stone Curlews by the side of the road. It wasn't far from a place where they have bred in the past, so it wasn't the sighting in itself but having seen them while driving past, as it's usually very good at blending in! I promise that the photos will be coming soon!
 

3Italianbirders

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Italy
First Honey Buzzard yesterday and we also heard a Tawny Owl, and we had also seen one Saturday night when we went to pick up our daughter from a friends' place.
 

3Italianbirders

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Italy
This afternoon’s drive got us two new species for the year and quite a few interesting sightings.

We started with the usual Kestrel, Stonechat, Subalpine Warbler, Red Kite, Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Swallows, Swifts and House Martins, then we had a pair of Lesser Kestrels acting suspiciously 🙃 around a ruined farmhouse… their range is expanding and they breed just over the border in Lazio, so you never know, they may like it here… fingers crossed!

Also around Bee-eaters, Corn Bunting, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, another Hoopoe, a Yellow-legged Gull, Skylarks everywhere (almost deafening), a lone male Red-footed Falcon and the first Black Kite of the season.

A short distance away, two Roller on a wire, a couple of Lesser Kestrels and a female Red-footed Falcon were hunting over the fields.

We took the long way home adding the first Red-backed Shrike of 2021 (a male), a small flock (5-6) of migrating Whinchats, a Great Reed Warbler signing from a clump of reeds in a tiny irrigation pond, Greenfinch, Nightingale, Buzzard and Chiffchaff.

Big grins all around! 😁

I promise photos tomorrow!
 

3Italianbirders

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Italy
Here we go... I have selected some of the most significant photos of the past month - there will be several instalments: I apologise for the delay but I am arguing with a new photo editing software 🙄

First some local specialities: Corn Bunting, Hoopoe and Short-toed Eagle in typical Tuscan landscape
 

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3Italianbirders

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Then some birds of prey: nocturnal and diurnal, spot the one in the middle! 😜
 

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3Italianbirders

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Three breeding species, although Stone Curlew does occur in winter too
 

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3Italianbirders

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Montagu's Harriers...
 

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3Italianbirders

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A very satisfying drive around our local patch yesterday afternoon, especially since most of the sightings came from the same 1 km. stretch of road (an abandoned one with nearly zero traffic). There we saw Red-footed Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Corn Bunting, Roller, Bee-eater, Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike (the first of 2021 for me), Turtle Dove, Grey Heron, Swallow, Skylark, Red-backed Shrike, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark and Great Tit (also Italian Sparrows and Starlings, but we don't count those) and heard Quail and Stone Curlew.

In a field not far away a group of 10 Cattle Egrets, then a Buzzard a two different male Montagu's Harriers.

A track through more fields brought more Corn Buntings, another Great Spotted Woodpecker, Zitting Cisticola and Cirl Bunting.

Finally, up a hill with awesome views, we had Kestrel, Nightingale, more Bee-eaters, another Buzzard and two Peregrine Falcons.

More photos soon!
 

3Italianbirders

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The weekend was a bit of mixed bag, especially since the weather on Saturday wasn't very bird-friendly: low clouds, a fierce wind and drizzling all day long. We were meeting two friends who were down for the weekend on the other side of the mountain, near the picturesque village of Roccalbegna. We were hoping for birds of prey, shrikes, and maybe a Dipper in the stream, but we only got a Grey Wagtail and the usual Redstart, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting and Chiffchaff, with the only raptors being a couple of Red Kites and a distant falcon which could have been either a Peregrine or a Lanner (the former more likely).

Sunday was still blustery but mostly dry and brought two new species for 2021: Melodious Warbler and Night Heron. Otherwise more of the same: Corn Buntings all over the place, Zitting Cisticola, Cirl Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Whitethroat, Skylark, Cuckoo, the odd Yellow-legged Gull, Little and Great White Egret, Kestrel and Buzzard. Nice sightings were a small flock of Bee-eaters, two Honey Buzzards and two Short-toed Eagles.

The flow of Lesser Kestrels and Red-footed Falcons seems to have dried up and strangely we didn't seen any of the Rollers which are usually around.
 

3Italianbirders

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Herons galore!

Yesterday afternoon we visited a small wetland reserve a 40 minute drive from us, Lake Montepulciano, on the outskirts of which last year and three years ago we had found flocks of Rosy Starlings. There had been several sightings throughout northern and central Italy over the last week so we decided to give it a go.

On the way there we had a nice trio of birds of prey: Hobby, Short-toed Eagle and Buzzard.

Unfortunately the mulberry trees on which the starlings feed were completely devoid of fruit for some reason, so no Starlings this time. Since we were there we thought we'd try the reserve itself which used to be one of our favourite places to go when it was managed by LIPU, but it changed hands due to some controversy between the local authorities that own it and had fallen into disrepair. Also the current management seems to favour a generalist public rather than birdwatchers so we hadn't been for a long time.

At the visitors' centre we were told that access to the boardwalk and remaining hide was allowed only during guided trips, so we resorted to walking along the canal that flows into the lake. Along the path we heard a Golden Oriole and several
Reed Warblers and the first Purple Heron flew overhead. But the biggest surprise was a flyover Pygmy Cormorant! We had heard of this species having been seen on the lake but hadn’t given it much credit. Further on, between the reeds, an opening that looked onto the reedbeds opposite and the lake to the right hosted a small barge moored to the bank: a perfect lookout! We installed ourselves on the barge and spent a very pleasant two hours seeing 8 species of herons: Purple, Grey, Squacco, Night, Little, Cattle and Great White Egret, and finally, to our delight: at least three different individuals of Little Bittern, one of which decided to perch for a while on a clump of reeds right in front of us.

Another totally unexpected sighting came in the shape of at least three Glossy Ibis, another species that we hadn’t seen for some time and certainly not here. We also saw Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, a nice pair of Gadwall, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gull, Reed Warbler and a Moustached Warbler too.

Heading home, just outside the reserve, Zitting Cisticola, Greenfinch, Jay, a flock of 20 Cattle Egrets and further on a Red-backed Shrike and a lone Bee-eater.

A fantastic day!

(photos on the way)
 
Last edited:

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Sounds like you're having a terrific spring - and thanks for posting some cracking photos.

Interesting the so many birds are using the lake despite the change in management.
 

3Italianbirders

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Sounds like you're having a terrific spring - and thanks for posting some cracking photos.
Thanks Mike, we are indeed! It certainly is better compared to last year! Another batch of photos is coming right after this post.
Interesting the so many birds are using the lake despite the change in management.
It maybe due to the fact that they only use a small part of the reserve, where the hide is, and the rest of the lake is left to its own devices and is not easily accessible by the general public, although it's used for fishing. In fact, as we were getting back to the car, I spoke to the guide there and told her about the Little Bitterns and she said "no, it can't be, we haven't seen them" and I said if she didn't believe me I could show her the pics, but she said, no it's ok, it's probably because that part of the lake is a lot quieter. I bet! Outside the visitors centre (which has a cafe) they have set up a large playground and picnic area with several tables, and this is right next to the canal, so it certainly isn't quiet at weekends.
 

3Italianbirders

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Here comes the first batch of photos, covering our jaunts in the Val d'Orcia...
 

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3Italianbirders

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... and the second, all taken at Lake Montepulciano.
 

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3Italianbirders

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And the last, a Little Bittern special... I love how it balances on the reeds!
 

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