My “Big year 2018” in Veneto and Italy

In the 2018 I took part to the national Big Year of Italy and to the regional Big Year of Veneto, the Italian region where I live. A Big Year is a kind of race among birders that decide to compete in the number of observed species of birds during 365 days.

It is rather different from other races I’ve attended in my life, such as the “24 hours races“, in which usually a team of birders spends all the day together birding and trying to find as much birds they can (you can find a sample on this post, about my presence during the International race “Champions of the Flyway” in Israel, a couple of years ago: link), because you compete alone (but often sharing informations and single day excursions with other participants) and you need to concentrate the efforts all around the year, planning in the best way the researches of seasonal or rare species.

Position of the region of Veneto in Italy
Position of the region of Veneto in Italy

My aim was to compete seriously in the Big Year of Veneto, my region, but at the end, adding to the Venetian species the birds spotted during the trips I led for Naturetrek in other regions of Italy and a couple of other holiday trips with my patient girlfriend Michela, I got a pretty good result also at national level.

Overall I spent in Veneto about 38 weeks of the total of 52 of 2018 (the 73% of the days of 2018), because I went few times abroad (Georgia, Croatia, France), spending there about 5 weeks (the 10% of the days of 2018), but I visited often other Italian regions: Piemont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Sardinia, Puglia and Sicily.

Big Year 2018 of Veneto
Ranking of the Big Year 2018 of Veneto

The Veneto check-list counted 412 species of birds in 2010 (link), 179 of them breeding regularly: during my Big Year I managed to see or heard 270 species, the 65,5% of the total!

Among the breeding species, I missed: Hazel Grouse (seen less than a km far from the border of Veneto), Common Quail (heard less than a km far from the border of Veneto), Tengmalm’s Owl, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Bearded Reedling, Short-toed Lark, Wood Lark (seen less than a km far from the border of Veneto), Barred Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Blue Rock-thrush, Tawny Pipit and Ortolan Bunting. Most of these species have a dramatically decreasing population and are on the verge of extinction as breeders in Veneto. Other rather frequent species (reported almost every year in small numbers) I missed were: Greater Scaup, Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Smew, Red-throated Diver, Yelkouan Shearwater, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, Pomarine Skua, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Eleonora’s Falcon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Red-rumped Swallow, Subalpine Warbler, Bluethroat, Collared Flycatcher, Red-throated Pipit, Citril Finch, Snow Bunting and Pine Bunting

At the Italian level, I counted 309 species of the 548 reported in the last check-list of 2014 (link), the 56%.

Ranking of Italian Big Year  2018 dominated by the unbeatable Guido Perdisa
Ranking of Italian Big Year 2018 dominated by the unbeatable Guido Perdisa

If 270 species were enough to win the Big Year of Veneto (link), the 309 species (305 with a different check-list that doesn’t count, for example, Rock Dove and Tyrrhenian Flycatcher) in Italy allowed me to reach a decent 5th position in the ranking (link)!

Marmora’s Warbler (Sylvia sarda)

Among the 309 species found in Italy, 12 were totally new for my Italian list: Brant Goose, Hazel Grouse, Barbary Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Red Kite, Sabine’s Gull, Eagle Owl, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Marmora’s Warbler, Mediterranean Flycatcher, Rosy Starling and Corsican Finch.

While the new entries for my list of birds observed in Veneto were: Lesser White-fronted Goose, Red-legged Partridge, African Sacred Ibis, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Pallid Swift, Eagle Owl, Short-eared Owl, Grasshopper Warbler, Red-billed Leiothrix, Rook, Rosy Starling and Common Redpoll.

Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) among White-fronted and Greylag Geese
Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) among White-fronted and Greylag Geese

I will publish now the check-list of the species I saw or heard during the 2018, attaching some of the best pictures of my wonderful Big Year 2018!


English nameLatin nameVenetoItaly
Tundra Bean GooseAnser serrirostrisXX
Greylag GooseAnser anserXX
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifronsXX
Lesser White-fronted GooseAnser erythropusXX
Canada GooseBranta canadensisXX
Brant GooseBranta bernicla
Barnacle GooseBranta leucopsisXX
Red-breasted GooseBranta ruficollisXX
Black SwanCygnus atratusXX
Mute SwanCygnus olorXX
Egyptian GooseAlopochen aegyptiacaXX
Common ShelduckTadorna tadornaXX
Ruddy ShelduckTadorna ferrugineaXX
GadwallAnas streperaXX
Eurasian WigeonAnas penelopeXX
MallardAnas platyrhynchosXX
Northern ShovelerAnas clypeataXX
Northern PintailAnas acutaXX
GarganeyAnas querquedulaXX
Eurasian TealAnas creccaXX
Marbled DuckMarmaronetta angustirostris
Red-crested PochardNetta rufinaXX
Common PochardAythya ferinaXX
Ferruginous DuckAythya nyrocaXX
Tufted DuckAythya fuligulaXX
Greater ScaupAythya marila
Common EiderSomateria mollissima
Velvet ScoterMelanitta fuscaXX
Common ScoterMelanitta nigra
Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangulaXX
GoosanderMergus merganserXX
Red-breasted MerganserMergus serratorXX
Dark-bellied Brant Goose (Branta bernicla) among White-fronted and Greylag Geese
Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)
Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)


Hazel GrouseTetrastes bonasia
Western CapercaillieTetrao urogallusXX
Black GrouseLyrurus tetrixXX
Rock PtarmiganLagopus mutaXX
Rock PartridgeAlectoris graecaXX
Barbary PartridgeAlectoris barbara
Red-legged PartridgeAlectoris rufaXX
Grey PartridgePerdix perdixXX
Common QuailCoturnix coturnix
Common PheasantPhasianus colchicusXX
Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)
Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)


Red-throated DiverGavia stellata
Black-throated DiverGavia arcticaXX
Great Northern DiverGavia immer

Yellow-billed DiverGavia adamsii
Yellow-billed Diver (Gavia adamsii)
Yellow-billed Diver (Gavia adamsii)
Arctic Diver (Gavia arctica)
Arctic Diver (Gavia arctica)


Scopoli’s ShearwaterCalonectris diomedea
Yelkouan ShearwaterPuffinus yelkouan
Scopoli's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea)
Scopoli’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea)


Little GrebeTachybaptus ruficollisXX
Red-necked GrebePodiceps grisegenaXX
Great Crested GrebePodiceps cristatusXX
Slavonian GrebePodiceps auritusXX
Black-necked GrebePodiceps nigricollisXX
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)


Greater FlamingoPhoenicopterus roseusXX
Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus)


Black StorkCiconia nigraXX
White StorkCiconia ciconiaXX
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)


African Sacred IbisThreskiornis aethiopicusXX
Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellusXX
Eurasian SpoonbillPlatalea leucorodiaXX
Eurasian BitternBotaurus stellarisXX
Little BitternIxobrychus minutusXX
Black-crowned Night HeronNycticorax nycticoraxXX
Squacco HeronArdeola ralloidesXX
Western Cattle EgretBubulcus ibisXX
Grey HeronArdea cinereaXX
Purple HeronArdea purpureaXX
Great EgretArdea albaXX
Little EgretEgretta garzettaXX
Western Reef HeronEgretta gularisXX
Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis)
Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis)
African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)


Northern GannetMorus bassanusSulaXX
Pygmy CormorantMicrocarbo pygmeusMarangone minoreXX
European ShagPhalacrocorax aristotelisMarangone dal ciuffoXX
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carboCormoranoXX
Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus)
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus)


Western OspreyPandion haliaetusXX
Black-winged KiteElanus caeruleusXX
European Honey BuzzardPernis apivorusXX
Griffon VultureGyps fulvus
Short-toed Snake EagleCircaetus gallicusXX
Greater Spotted EagleClanga clangaXX
Booted EagleHieraaetus pennatus
Golden EagleAquila chrysaetosXX
Eurasian SparrowhawkAccipiter nisusXX
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilisXX
Western Marsh HarrierCircus aeruginosusXX
Hen HarrierCircus cyaneusXX
Montagu’s HarrierCircus pygargusXX
Red KiteMilvus milvusXX
Black KiteMilvus migransXX
Common BuzzardButeo buteoXX
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus)


Water RailRallus aquaticusXX
Corn CrakeCrex crexXX
Little CrakePorzana parvaXX
Spotted CrakePorzana porzanaXX
Western SwamphenPorphyrio porphyrio
Common MoorhenGallinula chloropusXX
Eurasian CootFulica atraXX
Common CraneGrus grusXX
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
Common Cranes (Grus grus)
Common Cranes (Grus grus)


Eurasian Stone-curlewBurhinus oedicnemusXX
Eurasian OystercatcherHaematopus ostralegusXX
Black-winged StiltHimantopus himantopusXX
Pied AvocetRecurvirostra avosettaXX
Northern LapwingVanellus vanellusXX
European Golden PloverPluvialis apricariaXX
Grey PloverPluvialis squatarolaXX
Common Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticulaXX
Little Ringed PloverCharadrius dubiusXX
Kentish PloverCharadrius alexandrinusXX
Eurasian DotterelCharadrius morinellusXX
Eurasian WoodcockScolopax rusticolaXX
Common SnipeGallinago gallinagoXX
Black-tailed GodwitLimosa limosaXX
Bar-tailed GodwitLimosa lapponicaXX
WhimbrelNumenius phaeopusXX
Eurasian CurlewNumenius arquataXX
Spotted RedshankTringa erythropusXX
Common RedshankTringa totanusXX
Marsh SandpiperTringa stagnatilisXX
Common GreenshankTringa nebulariaXX
Green SandpiperTringa ochropusXX
Wood SandpiperTringa glareolaXX
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucosXX
Ruddy TurnstoneArenaria interpresXX
Red KnotCalidris canutusXX
SanderlingCalidris albaXX
Little StintCalidris minutaXX
Temminck’s StintCalidris temminckiiXX
Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferrugineaXX
DunlinCalidris alpinaXX
Broad-billed SandpiperLimicola falcinellusXX
RuffPhilomachus pugnaxXX
Collared PratincoleGlareola pratincolaXX
Black-legged KittiwakeRissa tridactylaXX
Sabine’s GullXema sabini
Slender-billed GullChroicocephalus geneiXX
Black-headed GullChroicocephalus ridibundusXX
Little GullHydrocoloeus minutusXX
Audouin’s GullIchthyaetus audouinii
Mediterranean GullIchthyaetus melanocephalusXX
Common GullLarus canusXX
European Herring GullLarus argentatusXX
Caspian GullLarus cachinnansXX
Yellow-legged GullLarus michahellisXX
Lesser Black-backed GullLarus fuscusXX
Gull-billed TernGelochelidon niloticaXX
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspiaXX
Sandwich TernThalasseus sandvicensisXX-
Little TernSternula albifronsXX
Common TernSterna hirundoXX
Whiskered TernChlidonias hybridaXX
White-winged TernChlidonias leucopterusXX
Black TernChlidonias nigerXX
Arctic SkuaStercorarius parasiticusXX
Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus)
Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus)
Sabine's Gull (Xema sabini)
Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini)


Rock DoveColumba liviaXX
Stock DoveColumba oenasXX
Common Wood PigeonColumba palumbusXX
European Turtle DoveStreptopelia turturXX
Eurasian Collared DoveStreptopelia decaoctoXX
European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)


Common CuckooCuculus canorusXX


Western Barn OwlTyto albaXX
Eurasian Scops OwlOtus scopsXX
Eurasian Eagle-OwlBubo buboXX
Tawny OwlStrix alucoXX
Ural OwlStrix uralensisXX
Eurasian Pygmy OwlGlaucidium passerinumXX
Little OwlAthene noctuaXX
Long-eared OwlAsio otusXX
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeusXX
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)


European NightjarCaprimulgus europaeusXX
European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)


Alpine SwiftTachymarptis melbaXX
Common SwiftApus apusXX
Pallid SwiftApus pallidusXX
Pallid Swif (Apus pallidus)
Pallid Swif (Apus pallidus)
Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba)
Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba)


European RollerCoracias garrulusXX
Common KingfisherAlcedo atthisXX
European Bee-eaterMerops apiasterXX
Roller (Coracias garrulus)
Roller (Coracias garrulus)


Eurasian HoopoeUpupa epopsUpupa

Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)


Eurasian WryneckJynx torquillaTorcicollo
Xesser Spotted WoodpeckerDendrocopos minorPicchio rosso minore
Middle Spotted WoodpeckerDendrocopos mediusPicchio rosso mezzano
Great Spotted WoodpeckerDendrocopos majorPicchio rosso maggioreXX
Eurasian Three-toed WoodpeckerPicoides tridactylusPicchio tridattiloXX
Black WoodpeckerDryocopus martiusPicchio neroXX
European Green WoodpeckerPicus viridisPicchio verdeXX
Grey-headed WoodpeckerPicus canusPicchio cenerinoXX
Tree-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus alpinus)
Tree-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus alpinus)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor)


Lesser KestrelFalco naumanniGrillaio
Common KestrelFalco tinnunculusGheppioXX
Red-footed FalconFalco vespertinusFalco cuculoXX
Eleonora’s FalconFalco eleonoraeFalco della regina
MerlinFalco columbariusSmeriglioXX
Eurasian HobbyFalco subbuteoLodolaioXX
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinusFalco pellegrinoXX
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)


Monk ParakeetMyiopsitta monachusXX


Red-backed ShrikeLanius collurioXX
Great Grey ShrikeLanius excubitorXX
Woodchat ShrikeLanius senator
Eurasian Golden OrioleOriolus oriolusXX
Eurasian JayGarrulus glandariusXX
Eurasian MagpiePica picaXX
Spotted NutcrackerNucifraga caryocatactesXX
Alpine ChoughPyrrhocorax graculusXX
Western JackdawColoeus monedulaXX
RookCorvus frugilegusXX
Carrion CrowCorvus coroneXX
Hooded CrowCorvus cornixXX
Northern RavenCorvus coraxXX
Coal TitPeriparus aterXX
European Crested TitLophophanes cristatusXX
Marsh TitPoecile palustrisXX
Willow TitPoecile montanusXX
Eurasian Blue TitCyanistes caeruleusXX
Great TitParus majorXX
Eurasian Penduline TitRemiz pendulinusXX
WoodlarkLullula arborea
Eurasian SkylarkAlauda arvensisXX
Crested LarkGalerida cristataXX
Greater Short-toed LarkCalandrella brachydactyla
Calandra LarkMelanocorypha calandra
Sand MartinRiparia ripariaXX
Barn SwallowHirundo rusticaXX
Eurasian Crag MartinPtyonoprogne rupestrisXX
Common House MartinDelichon urbicumXX
Red-rumped SwallowCecropis daurica
Cetti’s WarblerCettia cettiXX
Long-tailed TitAegithalos caudatusXX
Willow WarblerPhylloscopus trochilusXX
Common ChiffchaffPhylloscopus collybitaXX
Western Bonelli’s WarblerPhylloscopus bonelliXX
Wood WarblerPhylloscopus sibilatrixXX
Great Reed WarblerAcrocephalus arundinaceusXX
Moustached WarblerAcrocephalus melanopogonXX
Sedge WarblerAcrocephalus schoenobaenusXX
Eurasian Reed WarblerAcrocephalus scirpaceusXX
Marsh WarblerAcrocephalus palustrisXX
Melodious WarblerHippolais polyglottaXX
Icterine WarblerHippolais icterinaXX
Common Grasshopper WarblerLocustella naeviaXX
Fan-tailed WarblerCisticola juncidisXX
Red-billed LeiothrixLeiothrix luteaXX
Eurasian BlackcapSylvia atricapillaXX
Garden WarblerSylvia borinXX
Lesser WhitethroatSylvia currucaXX
Common WhitethroatSylvia communisXX
Dartford WarblerSylvia undataBX
Marmora’s WarblerSylvia sardaX
Spectacled WarblerSylvia conspicillataX
Subalpine WarblerSylvia cantillans
Moltoni’s WarblerSylvia subalpinaX
Sardinian WarblerSylvia melanocephalaXX
Common FirecrestRegulus ignicapillaXX
GoldcrestRegulus regulusXX
Eurasian WrenTroglodytes troglodytesXX
Eurasian NuthatchSitta europaeaXX
WallcreeperTichodroma murariaXX
Eurasian TreecreeperCerthia familiarisXX
Short-toed TreecreeperCerthia brachydactylaXX
Rosy StarlingPastor roseusXX
Common StarlingSturnus vulgarisXX
Spotless StarlingSturnus unicolorX
Ring OuzelTurdus torquatusXX
Common BlackbirdTurdus merulaXX
FieldfareTurdus pilarisXX
RedwingTurdus iliacusXX
Song ThrushTurdus philomelosXX
Mistle ThrushTurdus viscivorusXX
Spotted FlycatcherMuscicapa striataXX
Mediterranean FlycatcherMuscicapa tyrrhenicaX
European RobinErithacus rubeculaXX
Common NightingaleLuscinia megarhynchosXX
European Pied FlycatcherFicedula hypoleucaXX
Collared FlycatcherFicedula albicollis
Black RedstartPhoenicurus ochrurosXX
Common RedstartPhoenicurus phoenicurusXX
Common Rock ThrushMonticola saxatilisXX
Blue Rock ThrushMonticola solitarius
WhinchatSaxicola rubetraXX
European StonechatSaxicola rubicolaXX
Northern WheatearOenanthe oenantheXX
Black-eared WheatearOenanthe hispanica
White-throated DipperCinclus cinclusXX
House SparrowPasser domesticusXX
Italian SparrowPasser italiaeXX
Spanish SparrowPasser hispaniolensisXX
Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanusXX
White-winged SnowfinchMontifringilla nivalisXX
Alpine AccentorPrunella collarisXX
DunnockPrunella modularisXX
Western Yellow WagtailMotacilla flavaXX
Grey WagtailMotacilla cinereaXX
White WagtailMotacilla albaXX
Tawny PipitAnthus campestrisXX
Meadow PipitAnthus pratensisXX
Tree PipitAnthus trivialisXX
Water PipitAnthus spinolettaXX
Common ChaffinchFringilla coelebsXX
BramblingFringilla montifringillaXX
HawfinchCoccothraustes coccothraustesXX
Eurasian BullfinchPyrrhula pyrrhulaXX
European GreenfinchChloris chlorisXX
Common LinnetLinaria cannabinaXX
Common RedpollAcanthis flammeaXX
Lesser RedpollAcanthis cabaretXX
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostraXX
European GoldfinchCarduelis carduelisXX
Corsican FinchCarduelis corsicana
European SerinSerinus serinusXX
Eurasian SiskinSpinus spinusXX
Corn BuntingEmberiza calandraXX
YellowhammerEmberiza citrinellaXX
Rock BuntingEmberiza ciaXX
Cirl BuntingEmberiza cirlusXX
Common Reed BuntingEmberiza schoeniclusXX
Common Rock-thrush (Monticola saxatilis)
Common Rock-thrush (Monticola saxatilis)
Corsican Finch (Carduelis corsicana)

Luca Boscain

2 thoughts on “My “Big year 2018” in Veneto and Italy

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