30 Days Wild – the Italian One

Having started off my 30 Days Wild while on holiday in Venice I was initially unsure about what I might see. In the comfort of my home patch I know where to go to see the wild things. Out here, in a watery city off the Italian mainland I am less sure of my bearings, let alone what kind of wildness to look for.

But if in doubt – look at the skies. There are almost always birds around! With just a few hours of sightseeing under my belt I was starting to relax into this. Even without concerted effort there is wildlife EVERYWHERE! Between the airport and the city there is what can only be described as a boat motorway, signposted with wooden markers. These markers denote the lane and presumably reduce confusion and collisions, but they also, in my uninformed opinion, seem to be protecting the wetlands that absorb the wash from the passing traffic – nature’s own tidal defence.

These wetlands were not just a welcome bolt of green, but absolutely full of birds. Visible, even at the probably excessive speed of our taxi, were herons, gulls, terns and cormorants. I’m not familiar enough with anything other than the grey heron to say for sure but I think it’s possible there was a different type of heron present – my field guide suggests the purple heron can also be found here. Heron (grey). Photo credit: Em

The terns in the sky above had pin sharp tails, long thin orange/red beaks and little black scull caps – probably common terns but again, the view was fleeting and the camera angle not the best one for aiding my inexperienced eyes in ID.

But frankly, the most exciting bird (sorry tern) was captured by my upturned lens when I was idling in a leafy square trying to catch the screaming swifts above. We have these at home but their familiarity, rather than their novelty was what I found pleasing. However, I didn’t catch the swifts. I caught something bigger, paler, and altogether a little less familiar.

This hugely zoomed image (processed on an iPhone so not great quality) is that bird. I have seen so many colour variants of buzzards that I know this is very close to ‘buzzard’ material. It could still be a buzzard. But there is a slight banding on its tail and a translucency to its fingers that could, maybe, make this a honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus). And that, my friends, is an exciting possibility.

With ice-cream calling we headed off to a busy square where the pigeons adorned the lampposts. And I thought this was going to be difficult…




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