Dragonflies and few migrant birds in Valle Vecchia of Caorle

A couple of days ago I was woken up by the song of a Willow Warbler. Then a small flock of Golden Orioles started to chat as well in the garden: the sky was cloudy, with a rather hazy and humid air. I decided that, with a forecast predicting thunderstorms during the day, it could be a great day to look for migrant birds!

Golden Orioles (Oriolus oriolus) from home
Golden Orioles (Oriolus oriolus) from home

I drove to the eastern coast of Veneto, to the Valle Vecchia of Caorle area: it’s usually a wonderful place where to go birding, expecially at the end of August or in September, when a lot of migrants can occur.

Unfortunately, when I arrived, the sun came up

I found 3 Red-backed Shrikes (Lanius collurio) in the Brussa fields, 4 Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca) in the first pond of Valle Vecchia, so I moved to the Falconera environmental restorations.

Falconera birding tower
Falconera birding tower

I walked into a trail that crossed in the middle of the ponds, surrounded by canals, nice mud flats and reedbeds plenty of secretive Acrocephalus warblers. There were a lot of ducks (Garganeys, Common Teals, Shovelers, Gadwalls, Red-crested Pochards) and Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta)…

Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)

…but also tens of waders like Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus), Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius), Wood Sandpipers (Tringa glareola) and 3 Temminck’s Stints (Calidris temminckii).

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Temminck's Stint (Calidris temminckii)
Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii)
Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus)
Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

With a very warm sunshine, a lot of colourful dragonflies were around: Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope), Broad Scarlets (Crocothemis erythraea), Keeled Skimmers (Orthetrum coerulescens), Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum) and few Blu-tailed Damselflies (Ischnura elegans).

Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea)
Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea)
Blu-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Blu-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens)
Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens)
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

Encouraged by this sunshine, I tried to go through the pinewood and to reach the beach, in order to look for the rare Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra), that I had there in the first half of July.

Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra)
Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra)

The species wasn’t anymore present, probably because it was too late in the season, but, anyway, the sand dunes hosted some interesting blooms, going from European Searocket (Cakile maritima) to the attractive Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum).

Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum)
Sea Holly (Eryngium maritimum)

As usual, when an abundant food source is available, can’t lack the consumers, so I spotted Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum), Large Heart Bumble-bee (Bombus terrestris), Tree Grayling (Hipparchia statilinus), Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria), Nosed Grasshopper (Acrida ungarica) and Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens).

Tree Grayling (Hipparchia statilinus)
Tree Grayling (Hipparchia statilinus)
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Nosed Grasshopper (Acrida ungarica)
Nosed Grasshopper (Acrida ungarica)
Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria)
Vestal (Rhodometra sacraria)
Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)
Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens)

With a lot of possible preys, there were also few reptiles, including Western Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata) and Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus).

Western Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata)
Western Green Lizard (Lacerta bilineata)
Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus)
Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus)

Along the shore I was surprised by the observation of 4 Sanderlings (Calidris alba) and 15 Kentish Plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus), enjoying the low human presence on the beach, and by the nice presence of some Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) in salty waters.

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Sanderlings (Calidris alba)
Sanderlings (Calidris alba)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

About dragonflies, I had only some Blue Emperors (Anax imperator), Brad Scarlets and Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii).

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)
Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)

On the way back, I crossed the wet meadows of sedges and rushes where runs few salty streams: there weren’t many birds, but I liked the presence of some crabs Carcinus aestuarii and of few butterflies such as a two-spotted Common Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), apparently a beautiful Mediterranean form of the common species.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
Carcinus aestuarii
Carcinus aestuarii
Passenger (Dysgonia algira)
Passenger (Dysgonia algira)

I finished my birding day on the eastern side of Valle Vecchia: I worked hard in order to locate some migrant passerines in the hedges rich of mature fruits, but I couldn’t find more than a Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) and a couple of Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina).

Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)
Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)

In the nearby Baseleghe lagoon the tide was rather high and the waders far, so I just managed to spot some Oystercatchers, Curlews, Whimbrels, Grey Plovers, Dunlins and a solitary Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).

Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus)
Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)

I had to leave Valle Vecchia, with less than 80 species of observed birds, exactly when the sun had been covered by dark clouds: in a dozen of minuts the thunderstorm started… let’s try again next time, hoping in a better migration day!

Luca Boscain

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