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).
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.
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!
On the rocks along the Sacca, instead, I found 1 Water Pipit, few Dunlins and at least beautiful 17 Turnstones (Arenaria interpres).
Near the restaurant of Marina 70, I managed to observe 2 Black-throated Divers (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…
I tried with Siberian Chiffchaff playback and the bird came closer, shaking the wings very excited!
It was definitely a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis), no one other Chiffchaff was interested in my tape!
I was impressed by how much close the bird came, showing me very well the only yellow parts of its body: the underwings.
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.
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.