Venice

Tuesday 11th March to Friday 14th March 2008
The main highlights of our holiday in Venice last week were the stunning views, the food, the wine, the music, the architecture, the weather - in other words, Venice itself. It was definitely a non-birding trip, but there were some interesting birds seen - besides the large number of Feral Pigeons for which bags of grain are still sold in Piazza San Marco.

Tuesday 11th March
We arrived in San Marco airport after a one-and-a-half hour flight from Gatwick, and took the Alilaguna waterbus across the lagoon. At the airport quayside, the first birds were Italian House Sparrows (above), Yellow-legged Gulls and Black-headed Gulls. On the hour-long boat-ride to Venice I saw 15+ Garganeys, a Great Crested Grebe, two Oystercatchers, four Little Egrets, two Great White Egrets, a Hooded Crow plus several Magpies, Yellow-legged Gulls, Cormorants, Black-headed Gulls and Mallards. We took a walk in the afternoon taking in the Riva Degli Schiavoni, (the lagoon-side 'promenade') where two summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebes (below) were fishing near the moored gondolas. Further along at the Giardini Pubblici (public gardens), one of the few areas in the city with any notable expanse of grass and trees, there were a few Blackbirds and a Great Tit.

Wednesday 12th March
A Buzzard was circling over Piazza San Marco. From the start of the gondola ride in the afternoon, six Black-necked Grebes were off the Riva Degli Schiavoni, mostly in breeding plumage but one still in winter plumage (below).

Thursday 13th March
We took a boat trip to the lagoon islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello in the afternoon, seeing several Black-necked Grebes, Great-crested Grebes, Black-headed Gulls, Yellow-legged Gulls, Cormorants and Hooded Crows from the boat. On the island of Torcello, a singing male Serin was a highlight, also on the island was a singing male Cetti's Warbler, a Little Grebe, two Shelducks, several Mallards, 2+ House Martins, 1+ Swallows, three Starlings, several Italian House Sparrows, a Collared Dove, two Robins, and a Little Egret. Several other Little Egrets and Great White Egrets were seen distantly in flight late afternoon going to roost.
Above and bottom: Yellow-legged Gulls
Friday 14th March
The only butterflies of the trip were two Commas in the Cannaregio part of the city. On the waterbus journey back to the airport, more birds were seen, though mainly at speed including several Great-crested Grebes, the usual gulls and Mallards, several Shelducks, two Spoonbills, a few Little Egrets and Great White Egrets, a Common Sandpiper and a pair of Shovelers. At the airport a Peregrine was near the waterbus stop.

Lots of photos of our trip can be seen here: http://picasaweb.google.com/Paulbirder/Venice

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