A day of surveys in the Po delta

I had to do some surveys in the lagoons of Veneto Po delta for the Association Sagittaria: to be around in those areas, even if mainly spending the time counting birds, means to have often nice photo oportunities as well. The fauna of Po delta never disappoints!

On the way to the delta, heading south, I spotted the first Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) of the year gliding to the Venice lagoon, while a quick stop at the Chioggia rubbish tip allowed me to find a Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) and an Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), among hundreds of Yellow-legged Gulls.

Probable hybrid between Herring and Caspian Gull (Larus argentatus x L. cachinnans)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

So I spent the morning in the most northern lagoon of the Veneto Po delta (Rovigo province), Caleri lagoon. By boat it’s much easier to approach birds: I counted maybe 80 Black-necked Grebes…

Black-necked Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis)
Black-necked Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis)

2-3 Red-breasted Merganser, 300 Dunlins, 20 Grey Plovers and beautiful 40 Curlews.

Curlew (numenius arquata)
Curlew (numenius arquata)
Curlew (numenius arquata)
Curlew (numenius arquata)
Curlew (numenius arquata)
Curlew (numenius arquata)

But even more interesting were the big flocks of hundreds of gulls: I counted 110 Black-headed Gulls and 310 Yellow-legged Gulls, but I managed to spot also 1 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Common Gulls and 2 rare Slender-billed Gulls (Chroicocephalus genei).

Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)

At midday, I did a quick tour of the most southern Veneto Po delta lagoon, Sacca degli Scardovari. here the low tide exposed vast mudflats that were incredibly rich in birds: hundreds of Shelducks and Gadwalls, 5 Common Buzzards, 800 Pied Avocets, 24 Turnstones, 40 Oystercatchers and a stunning Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) hunting in daylight above the beach!

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres)
Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

So I surveyed the Canarin lagoon, but besides 800 Shelducks…

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

…the only interesting birds I spotted were 1 Sardinian Warbler, 1 Firecrest and 3 Siskins, a rare bird in lowlands.

Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

I finished my day of bird counts along the Po di Maistra, where is settled a big roost of almost 600 Great Cormorants. The near “valle” was plenty of hundreds of Pied Avocets, Wigeons, Shovelers, egrets and at least 12 Spoonbills (Platalea alba).

Spoonbills (Platalea alba)
Spoonbills (Platalea alba)

Luca Boscain

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