Going back over old emails, this one came up from a trip at the end of November, beginning of December – presumably to avoid the crowds (very wise as May three years later demonstrated). I’m not too sure about some of the sightings but…
“The highlights started on a trip to the north of the Lagoon. I didn’t have to go far. As the boat was pulling away from the main island to Lido, a couple of falcons flew over it. I only caught a glimpse of them and naturally assumed that they were peregrines but lanner may be a possibility. I guess the habitat would favour peregrine more.
“I then got a great sparrowhawk (female presumably from its size) flying over the huge hotel on the Lido beach. A couple of firecrests at Punta Sabbioni, dozens of black-necked grebes and a common sandpiper (in breeding plumage!?) completed that day’s sightings.
“Frustratingly there was a transport strike the next day, so I had to wait until the 2nd to travel down to Chioggia. It was while waiting at Pellestrina for the final boat that I became aware of Italian sparrows. I later saw them everywhere in Venice. But the most intriguing birds at Pellestrina were some pipits. They didn’t look right for meadow pipits but I couldn’t turn them into anything else. The journey to Chioggia finally provided plenty of Mediterranean gulls.
“The highlight of the week though had to be the most tantalising. I caught the train up to Treviso and at the end of the causeway at Mestre I saw a buzzard perched in a tree. As we passed, the front of the bird came into view with a really black belly and paler feathers above. I realise that this is right at the southern end of the range for rough-legged buzzard in the winter but I don’t really see that it could have been even a dark-morph common buzzard.
“So, not a great many species but some good raptors.”
Indeed. Venice is a very homo sapiens area. And canis lupus familiaris to judge by the amount of dog shit I recall.