“Stay home!”: local birding in Monastier di Treviso

The arrival of the Covid19 in Italy induced, in March 2020, the progressive lock down of the country, starting from the first municipalities affected by the virus and then extending to every region of the peninsula. This forced me to reduce step by step the width of my movements until just my home become allowed.

I don’t live in a very interesting natural area, being in the middle of the Veneto plain, 25 km far from the closest hills (the Montello) and 20 km from the seaside of Jesolo Lido.

Notoriously the triangle among Padova, Venezia and Treviso is considered on of the most cemented and devastated areas of Veneto because of the unruled expansion of settlements, roads, industries and commercial poles and even the few remaining fertile fields have been covered, in the last years, by intensive vineyards, following the boom of International popularity of the Prosecco.

Nearer could be the Venice lagoon, only 10 km far in the south, or the course of Piave river, 5 km far in the east, but the reduction of the movement possibilities since mid March made them unattainable as well.

Therefore I had to limit myself, walking just in the countryside of my village, Monastier di Treviso, far from people, or birding directly from my garden or my terrace.

Monastier is in fact a rather small community, with a number of about 4,000 inhabitants, enough far from the Treviso and other villages to maintain still around a ring of extended cultivated fields.

Unfortunately there are no lakes or important rivers, the only stream is the Meolo (that luckily runs right behind my home), as well as there are no proper woodlands with just some trees spread in the gardens or along scattered hedges.

Despite this, I started to explore more extensively the usual the countryside of my village, looking for patches of grass, little canals of lines of trees and something nice emerged.


March

The “river” Meolo
Ivy-leaved Speedwell (Veronica hederifolia)
Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna)
Gulls following a tractor in front of the “Giovanni XXIII” private clinic
Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) and Bird’s-eye Speedwell (Veronica persica)
Mediterranean Gulls (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Cherry-Plum (Prunus cfr. cerasifera)
Early Dog-Violet (Viola cfr. reichenbachiana)
An old villa that faces the Meolo
Common Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
Common Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)
A beetle (Pentodon bidens)
Sticky Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium glomeratum)
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
Corn Gromwell (Buglossoides arvensis)
Blue Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
The river Meolo flowing peacefully in the direction of the Parish Church of Monastier di Treviso
A star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum cfr. divergens)
Green-veined White (Pieris napi)

When everything closed and everybody was forced to keep at home all the time, excluding few people exonerated, decisive to stimulate me to spend more time birding just from my garden or from my terrace were the “Zero-Km-BW” days launched by the mainling-list EBNItalia for every weekend of March.

Another reason to keep birding was the “Zero-KM” Big Year, launched by the group Venezia Birdwatching.

Last year, another race organized by Venezia Birdwatching as well, had been the “Local Patch” Big Year: each participant chose a local patch of 4 km² where to go birding regularly, during the year, and personally I designated the area around Monastier di Treviso, frequenting always the same spots and having walks around at least once for month. At the end of 2019, I counted 80 species of birds.

Well, during just March 2020, the total number of species I had, including exclusively the birds I had from home, were incredibly 62!

My eastern side view point, facing the river Meolo
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Southern side view point
Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis)
Feral mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmaeus)
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Western view point: my terrace
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

But the day in which I put more diligence was the 31st of March, when I participated, together with a team of other 14 Italian birders led by Alessandro Ardoino and spread along the Italian Peninsula, to the International birding race called “Champions of the Flyway” that usually place in Israel but this year, because of the Coronavirus, was decided to be competed directly from the home of each participant.

“Champions of the Flyway” (http://www.champions-of-the-flyway.com/) is a charity race, that this year collected about 40,000 $ to invest in the protection of Steppe Eagles, to which I’ve already taken part in 2017, when I was in the first Italian team ever, called “Po Delta Pymies”, with the friends Menotti Passerella and Gianfranco Colombo (—> link).

This time I birded hard during all the day, from 5.30 to 19.30 and the final result was surprising: 50 species of birds!

The next shots were all taken during that day in which the team, now called “Italian Sparrows“, had in total 130 species of birds.

Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis), second winter immature
The large Parish Church of Monastier di Treviso
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

April

The month started with the full lock-down of the country still active: I had to keep observing from my garden or my terrace, looking for subjects. Every occasion was good, going from the “Zero-Km-BW” days organized every weekend by EBNItalia, to the Naturetrek bird-races on each Tuersday.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), female
Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae), male
Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum), feeding on a Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), male
Great Tit (Parus major), female
Creeping Woodsorrel (Oxalis corniculata)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Coypu (Myocastor coypus), juvenile at dawn
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), female

Another way to look for wildlife, by night, had been to set outside, in my terrace, a safari moth-trap. Unfortunately my terrace doesn’t face the river Meolo, but another small house… Despite this, I had some nice visits to the light!

Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella)
Net-spinning Caddisfly (Hydropsyche sp.)
Pale-shouldered Cloud (Chloantha hyperici)
Spotted Cranefly (Nephrotoma cfr. appendiculata)
Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)
Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)
European Vine Moth (Lobesia botrana)
White-Point (Mythimna albipuncta)
European Wasp (Vespula germanica)
Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis)
A soldier beetle (Cantharis livida)
Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)
Eastern Nycteoline (Nycteola cfr. asiatica)
Dog’s Tooth (Lacanobia suasa)
Spruce Carpet (Thera variata/britannica)
Shaded Fan-Foot (Herminia tarsicrinalis)
Pale Prominent (Pterostoma palpina)
Marbled Clover (Heliothis viriplaca)
Blood Vein (Timandra comae)
Fall Webworm Moth (Hyphantria cunea)
Sharp-angled Peacock Moth (Macaria alternata)
Giant Looper (Ascotis selenaria)
Bright-line Brown-Eye (Lacanobia oleracea)
Mint Moth (Pyrausta aurata)
Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum)

The 13th April, a regional Directive established that was possible to walk out of the 200 m around home, although the indication to keep still in proximity was rather vague… I took advantage of this walking in the fields around the my village, looking for flowers, butterflies and birds.

One of the last frosts of this winter
The bell-tower of the Abbazia Del Pero with the full moon
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Short-tailed Blue (Cupido argiades)
Great Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia)
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum)
A paper wasp (Polistes sp.)
Mallow Skippers (Carcharodus alceae)
Tree-lined road to an abandoned house
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Bulbous Comfrey (Symphytum bulbosum)
Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis)
Balm-leaved Archangel (Lamium orvala)
Brown Argus (Aricia agestis)
Common Dandelion (Taraxacum cfr. officinale)
Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
A star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum cfr. divergens)
African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
A dock (Rumex sp.)
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmaeus)
Common Sow-Thistle (Sonchus cfr. oleraceus)
Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops)

For the weekend 25th-26th April, EBNItalia had fixed the annual “24 hours” bird-race: this year, with the active lock-down, they decided to organize it with teams of 3 people from the same province, competing each one from his home, and then summing the species seen to make the final score of the team. I decided to propose the race to my friends Paolo Vacilotto and Franco Salvini, both from the Treviso province and they accepted.

So we started to keep in touch sharing our observations: in the afternoon of 24th April, they were training themselves, scanning the sky, when they begun to observe a noticeable passage of raptors.

I finally joined them, going outside in my terrace and I had a taste of that migration as well, with 4-5 Honey Buzzards, 2-3 Montagu’s Harriers, 4 Marsh Harriers, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 6 Red-footed Falcons and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull in just 45 minutes in which I felt in Eilat!

Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus), female
Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), female
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus), sub-adult 4° cal.
European Honey-Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus), male

We participated to the “24 hours bird-race the 26th April with the name “Osei Scampai Trevisani” (meaning “Treviso escaped birds” in the Venetian dialect) and I started in my garden before 5 a. m., hearing a Little Owl.

I collected, during the day, 46 species of birds including 1 Night Heron, 1 Black Stork, 1 Sand Martin, 1-2 Yellow Wagtails, 1 Wood Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1-2 Pied Flycatchers, 1 Collared Flycatcher, 1 Spotted Flycatcher and 1 male of Golden Oriole.

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), identified as 1st summer female by Andrea Corso
Egyptian Locust (Anacridium aegyptium)
Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
A jumping spider (Menemerus semilimbatus)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Sunset from my terrace

The final score we had, adding Franco’s and Paolo’s observations to mine, has been 57 species of birds: not bad at all considering our distance from any important wetland, sea or mountain!

From the 27th of April a new regional Directive established that was possible to walk or ride a bicycle in all the territory of the municipality of dwelling, so my walks around became longer, going to include other settlements nearby the main village of Monastier di Treviso.

European Serin (Serinus serinus), female and male
Italian Ashy-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava cinereocapilla)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Oberthür’s Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus)
Meadow Cleary (Salvia pratensis)
Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Common Froghoppers (Cercopis vulnerata)
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Mouse-eared Hawkweed (Pilosella officinarum)
Red Poplar Leaf Beetle (Chrysomela populi)
Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe)
Tufted-Sedge (Carex elata)
Southern Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus malvoides)
Greater Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre)
European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola), male
Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus cfr. argus), female
Western Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), female
Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica)
Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), female
Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)
Grey-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava thunbergi)
Eastern Bath White (Pontia edusa)
Italian Striped Bug (Graphosoma italicum italicum)
Broad-leaved Spurge (Euphorbia cfr. platyphyllos)
Little Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Pralongo

May

Shining Marbled (Pseudeustrotia candidula)
Heart and Dart (Agrotis exclamationis)
Unknown Tortricidae moth
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Cranefly (family Tipulidae)
Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)
Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
Orache Moth (Trachea atriplicis)
June beetle (subfamily Melolonthinae)
Flame (Axylia putris)
Willow Beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria)
Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)
Oberthür’s Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus)
Vallio river
French Meadow-Rue (Thalictrum aquilegiifolium)
Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo)
Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)

The 4th of May finally the governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, declared that was allowed to go out of the municipality borders: after almost 3 months I went out of Monastier di Treviso to take possession once again of the Dolomites, the Adriatic shores and all the other incredibly interesting habitats that I missed during the lock-down endless time!

Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)

Luca Boscain

2 thoughts on ““Stay home!”: local birding in Monastier di Treviso

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences over the last two months, Luca. Your photos show a 360 degree interest – and competence – in nature.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s