Redpolls and Great Northern Diver in the Lido di Venezia

The island of Lido di Venezia is usually known because it hosts the “Venice Film Festival“, but can be also a very good place for birdwatching, expecially in winter. It’s is an alogated dike that, together with the island of Pellestrina, separates the Venice lagoon from the Adriatic sea. 

View of the Dolomites from the Lido di Venezia
View of the Dolomites from the Lido di Venezia

The island follows the Veneto coastline, along an important migration route, but receives also the influence of the lagoon, a site rich in biodiversity, expecially water birds. Some patches of preserved habitats like dunes, pinewoods, Mediterranean maquis and steppe increase even more the natural value of the area. All these aspects make the Lido di Venezia a great place where to look for birds, expecially rare ones.

One of the best sides is the area of San Niccolò, with a beatiful area of grassy dunes and a long dike that penetrates for 2,5 km into the Adriatic sea, ending with a red lighthouse.

San Niccolò dike
San Niccolò dike

I visited the Lido di Venezia twice during the winter 2017/2018. The first time I went there in ordet to twitch a stunning Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer) also known as Common Loon: the greatest of European divers is a rare bird at Italian level and was one of the very few ever reported in the region of Veneto.

The bird was fishing rather far in the shallow waters.

Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)

Many more interesting birds were reported in the area during the days before, including Red-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe, but together with the diver I observed some Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)…

Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)
Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii)

…tens of Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes…

Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

…one Mediterranean Gull…

Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)

…and many Great Cormorants.

Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo)

The Great Northern Diver came closer, showing better.

Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)

I noticed also big flocks of Dunlins, with few Sanderlings, flying from the artificial island in front of the lighthouse to the lagoon, where the tide was going down: at the end I counted more than 1700 individuals.

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

The Great Northern Diver fed with gluttony on tens of mantis shrimps.

Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)

On the way back from the dike, I managed to spot a Red-breasted Merganser and a very far Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena).

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

The second time I visited the island of Lido di Venezia, I went in order to watch a flock of lovely redpolls mixed with many other finches, all feeding on the Oenothera sp. spikes in the dunes.

Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis)
Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis)

I spotted in few minutes the first redpolls: they were very confident and they proved to be Lesser Redpolls (Acanthis cabaret), with their brownish and creamy tones.

Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)
Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)
Lesser Redpolls (Acanthis cabaret)
Lesser Redpolls (Acanthis cabaret)
Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)
Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret)

Together with redpolls there were also Goldfinches, Siskins, Greenfinches, Serins, Chaffinches and Cirl and Reed Buntings.

Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Siskin (Spinus spinus)
Siskin (Spinus spinus)

But I spotted also some much whiter redpolls, with 1-2 fantastic males: Common or Mealy Redpolls (Acanthis flammea), a very rare bird for Italy!

Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)
Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)
Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)
Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)
Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)
Mealy Redpoll (Acanthis flammea)

One of the best aspects of going birding in the island of Lido di Venezia is that, expecially with the clear air and warm light of winter, on the way back by the ferry called “vaporetto“, the view is definitely breath-taking.

Lido di Venezia
Lido di Venezia
Venezia from Lido di Venezia
Venezia from Lido di Venezia
Laguna di Venezia with the far volcanic shape of Colli euganei
Laguna di Venezia with the far volcanic shape of Colli Euganei
S. Maria della Salute (Venezia)
S. Maria della Salute (Venezia)
Piazza S. Marco
Piazza S. Marco
Rowers
Rowers
Hilton Molino Stucky
Hilton Molino Stucky

Luca Boscain

2 thoughts on “Redpolls and Great Northern Diver in the Lido di Venezia

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