Etruscan Shrew and Dusky Warbler in the Oasi Celestina

The Oasi Celestina is a very small (12 ha) oasis managed by LIPU in the Reggio Emilia province that protects a couple of freshwater lakes and some patches of reedbeds, reforestations and meadows.

Three days ago the very bright Luca Bagni found there a mega rarity with less than 10 observations in Italy: an amazing Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus)! 

It’s a Siberian species of bird that usually spends its winters in South East Asia, so his big found has attracted a lot of birdwatchers and twitchers from most of Northern Italy, including me and my friends. I observed the bird just 3 times in more than 4 hours, always for not more than 10 seconds and well in the deep of branches and leaves… I managed to take only one record shot:

Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus), October 2017

All my efforts to have a better view, without the use of the playback (I don’t like to stress birds that I know will be already enough disturbed by photographers), were fruitless… However I observed more than 35 species of other birds including: 60-70 Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), 1-2 Great Egrets (Ardea alba), 9 African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus), 1 Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), 1 Little Owl (Athene noctua), some Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) and Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis), 2-3 Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita), 1 Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), tens of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus), 1-2 Siskins (Carduelis spinus), 1-2 Serins (Serinus serinus) and 5 Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes).

With a rather warm sun I also observed few species of butterflies: Common Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), etc.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), October 2017

But the most interesting ones were mammals: we found a very cute juvenile of Coypu (Myocastor coypus) with the coat almost white (albino or leucistic) and apparently blind:

Coypu (Myocastor coypus)
Coypu (Myocastor coypus)

…but also, above all, an incredibly small dead individual of Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus), also known as Etruscan Pygmy Shrew or the White-toothed Pygmy Shrew. It’s famous to be the smallest mammal of the world, with an average weight of about 1.8 grams. Beeing still “fresh”, I seize the opportunity to take  pictures with the ruler of the mobile phone and with some “almost alive postures”.

Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus)

Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus)
Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus), October 2017

Luca Boscain

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