I took part, together with some friends of the “Venezia BW” group (link to their website), to a fishing trip by boat offshore from Chioggia. It has been a great occasion to check what was happening far from the coast, encountering some apparently rare birds and enjoying a productive sea-waching.
Unfortunately, as usual during the sea-watching, most of the birds were very far, so not exactly photographable and, this time, even the waste of fishermen wasn’t attractive for anything more than sea-gulls. But last year an amazing Grey Shearwater was reported and very well photographed (link to the photos), so… you never know, it’s worth to try!
Chioggia is an interesting art-city settled at the most southern gate of the Venice lagoon, so from there is a quick job to navigate into the Adriatic sea.
Along the wide canal that connects the lagoon with the sea there were quite a few Common Terns (Sterna hirundo), Sandwich Terns (Thalasseus sandvicensis) and Shags (Phalacrocorax desmarestii) fishing.
Further on we navigated south to the northern side of Po delta, where abound the mussel-farms. Apparently those areas were particularly rich in fish as well, and fishermen knew it, gathering there.
We noticed them fishing a Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) after the other, not envying the sort of the poor fish…
But we were there in order to bird, so we started to scan the sea surface and the expanse of buoys. We spotted in order: Gannet (Morus bassanus), many Mediterranean Gulls (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica), Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), 2 Velvet Scoters (Melanitta fusca), Parasitic Skua (Stercorarius cf. parasiticus) and…
…at least a huge Loggerhead Sea-turtle (Caretta caretta). It’s a species that, according to the many beached dead specimens you can find along the Veneto coasts, should be rather abundant in the Adriatic sea, but that is very hard to be seen alive!
We spent almost 4 hours birding 6 km far from the coast of Po delta, before start the return. Many of the nordic species we had, like Velvet Scoter and Black-throated Diver, were real rarities in this season of the year, but also Gannet and Parasitic Skua are unusual birds in Italy: the prove that the off-shore wildlife is far to be very well known and that we should bird more in the Adriatic sea!
During the way back the fishermen cleaned the fish, throwing the waste into the sea. More than a hundred of Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahellis) were attracted, 90% juveniles.
Also the second year immature of Gannet did a single passage.
After landing, we finished the day in the Valli di Brenta area, scanning some interesting islans that usually host a lot of resting waders. We watched more than 60 Common Terns, a dozen of Greenshanks, ten Common Sandpipers, 26 Oystercatchers, 2 Dunlins and a juvenile of Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) with its parent.