Monday, 27 June 2016

(K)not so hard in the end!

I spent the weekend of the 18th and 19th June in the beautiful village of Grosio, Italy. Grosio is in the Sondrio region of Lombardy, located at 600m in an alpine valley about ten minutes drive from the Swiss border. Sounds nice (and it is) but I was there to do a job. It seems an odd location for a pharmaceutical plant but the company I work for have one in the region and I was there to run some manufacturing trials over the weekend.
Our trials went to plan - which enabled me a little time to potter around the village on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. And it was well worth a potter. I know some people would bemoan birding in Italy - just sparrows and gulls. But, around the gardens of Grosio itself I had six pairs of Common Redstarts, at least three pairs of Black Redstarts (including a male that serenaded me each morning before first light from the steeple of the church opposite my hotel room), two Spotted Flycatchers, plenty of singing Serins, a Wryneck and of course loads of Sparrows (but even those were a mix of House, Tree and Italian). I walked around the grounds of a nearby old monastery where I had two Hoopoes, a male Red-backed Shrike and a brief burst of Sylvia song which I rather fancied was a Western Orphean Warbler.
As I was there with work I didn't bother to lug my lens over with me - so all I can muster for blog shots are of the village and surrounding area itself.

Grosio village with the steeple of Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Giuseppe (home of many Common Swifts, Crag Martins and a pre-dawn song post for Black Redstart)

Grosio as seen from the ruins of San Faustino

I did manage one shot with my iphone of a male Common Redstart that was frequenting a tiny orchard just outside the village. I think this qualifies as my worst image ever of a Redstart (or possibly any bird for that matter) - see if you can see him!

Frame-filling shot of Common Redstart
This weekend just gone - well, I should have wasted no time and gone for the Great Knot or at least the Caspian Tern at Breydon Water. But I got distracted by a female Bluethroat at Ness Point, Suffolk. I guess the words "+showing well" were what did it. And it was showing well, about thirty minutes before I arrived. I had brief fleeting glimpses of it up until 5pm. After that until I left at 8pm - it went AWOL. And it hasn't been since today either. Not too worry though - I still enjoyed the brief glimpses. As to whether its a failed female breeding bird or even a fledged White-spotted Bluethroat (I couldn't see it well enough to tell how fresh it was) - don't know but seems an atypical record for this species.
Today I had a day off so I did the right thing and headed for Titchwell for the Great Knot. I expected to have to work hard for this one. Its been commuting between Scolt Head Island, Titchwell beach and freshmarsh and Gore Point at Holme beach. However, I rocked up to the Parrinder hide and picked it out on the edge of a very large flock of Knot within a minute (courtesy of some guidance). I even managed some ropey record shots. In the end it wasn't so hard - its not normally like that!

Great Knot - RSPB Titchwell - 27th June 2016
So making up for missing the Breydon Water bird in 2014 and the Swords Estuary, Dublin bird in 2004 - I have finally ticked Great Knot. And it was in breeding plumage too. I'm over in Dublin for the coming week -  helping out my parents out following my Mum's hip replacement (all that golf finally caught up!). I'm not planning any birding but might slip down some evening to Coliemore Harbour to scope the Roseate Terns over on Dalkey Island - stay posted!!

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