Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

A coffer of rarities: Sacca degli Scardovari

The Po delta is maybe the best birding spot in Italy, but this winter a good number of rare birds decided to center in the area of Sacca degli Scardovari, a vast salt water lagoon in the south of delta (Rovigo) usually known mainly because of widespread mussel farming. Black-shouldered Kite, Short-eared Owl, Turnstone, Black-throated Diver, etc were all reported there.

I decided to spend half a day around Sacca degli Scardovari and, at dawn, I was near the village of Scardovari watching the rare Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus).

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

This is usually a very rare species in Italy, but observations have increased recently, with the record number of 4 birds in winter 2017/18! Near the kite I observed also: Hen Harrier, Skylark, Water Pipit, European Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Bunting, etc.

The weather, as often in winter in the delta, was rather awful, with a thick cloudy sky and a cold breeze: luckly there was no mist, but I coudn’t obtain good colours for my pictures and the background was always invarably whitish-grey.

I decided to move south to the Barricata beach and, from there, I coasted the Sacca degli Scardovari bank. In the fields on my right I observed tens of Common Gulls (Larus canus) together with Black-headed and Yellow-legged. The Sacca was plenty of Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, but I found more interesting the Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator), not far from the road.

Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator)
Red-breasted Mergansers (Mergus serrator)

Later I spotted in a ricefield, among some Cattle and Great White Egrets, 2 Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) and 2 Glossy Ibises (Plegadis falcinellus), a rare presence in winter!

Glossy Ibises (Plegadis falcinellus)
Glossy Ibises (Plegadis falcinellus)

On the rocks along the Sacca, instead, I found 1 Water Pipit, few Dunlins and at least beautiful 17 Turnstones (Arenaria interpres).

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Near the restaurant of Marina 70, I managed to observe 2 Black-throated Divers (Gavia arctica)…

Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)
Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)

…but my attention was kept by the movements in the cut branches of Umbrella Pines: there were a lot of Chiffchaffs there and at least a Goldcrest. But I noticed also a browner and paler Chiffchaff…

Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)
Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)

I tried with Siberian Chiffchaff playback and the bird came closer, shaking the wings very excited!

Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)
Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)

It was definitely a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis), no one other Chiffchaff was interested in my tape!

Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)
Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)

I was impressed by how much close the bird came, showing me very well the only yellow parts of its body: the underwings.

Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)
Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)

Happy with my wonderful warbler, I decided to try again with the Black-shouldered Kite, hoping in few clears in the sky.

When I arrived, the sky was not blue, but at least I had some more light on the raptor, even if it was farther than on early morning.

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Before lunchtime, I left the Sacca degli Scardovari area, heading north to start the water-birds census of Po di Venezia and Valle Ca’ Zuliani: there I found an amazing flock of more than 20,000 Common Teals (Anas crecca), a real challenge for a bird counter… but that’s another history.

Common Teals (Anas crecca)
Common Teals (Anas crecca)

Luca Boscain

4 thoughts on “A coffer of rarities: Sacca degli Scardovari

  1. Counting 10,000 wigeon was hard enough, teal always seem to be more difficult. Excellent pictures, especially the black-shouldered kite – one of my favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s