The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Italy Trip - Days 3 + 4


I'd left the outside lights on overnight once again, and got a few moths.

The best being two of the migrants Palpita vitrealis, several Portland Ribbon Wave making me feel at home,

and the Emerald, Phaiogramma etruscaria.

Before leaving for our walk of the day, I had a quick scan of the surrounding mountains, and found a distant pair of Short-toed Eagle hovering.  Some consolation for missing the bird that was in the UK at that moment!

Also at this point, I saw two large Falcon soaring over the adjacent mountainside.  There was something about them which made me steer away from Peregrine, and towards Lanner, which is a speciality of Italy.  I was further confused by the sight of both birds seemingly catching insects in mid-air like Hobbies!  With that sort of behaviour, I decided they could surely not be Peregrine.

The destination for the day was the neighbouring ancient town of Gaeta.  Little wildlife interest I thought.

The view from the promontory was splendid.

But, what was more of a delight to my eyes, was that taking the place of Starlings sitting on the TV aerials in the town, particularly around the castle, was several singing Blue Rock Thrush.

Much better views than I got 2 weeks ago in France.

I was also delighted to discover that part of our walk route went through another country park, that of Monti Orlando.

As soon as I set foot here, I could hear a large Falcon calling.  It was difficult viewing through the trees, but I got some brief views of a male and larger female bird interacting.  The views I got weren't great, but I saw nothing to rule out Lanner, plus the noise they were making was unlike those I'd heard from Peregrine.  I listened to Lanner calls later, and I was forced to conclude that's what they were.  More on this later.

The insects again came to the fore, with Scarce Swallowtail, a gigantic Migratory Locust,

and the migrant moth Uresiphita gilvata being among the best.

In terms of birds, there were several Firecrest singing, a Short-toed Treecreeper, Sardinian Warbler were everywhere, and I had great views of Alpine Swift over the sea cliffs.

Also here, I think I finally nailed Pallid Swift, which I'd been on the look out for all day, with various possibles and probables up to that point.    Here though, there were birds nesting on the cliffs, and against the sea their brown-ness was particularly striking.

Back at home, and I found a discarded nest in the garden.  It's tiny size suggesting only Firecrest.

Later, rather than leave the outside lights on all night, I just put them on for an hour or so, and stood guard.

Yet more migrants were encountered including a male Gem, and a familiar Turnip, possibly also a migrant.

A Plumed Fan-foot was a nice find,

as was the fantastic micro Cynaeda dentalis,

but best of all, was the exquisite Eutelia adulatrix, looking like a mini Eyed Hawk-moth.


Today, we were off to the world heritage site of Pompei. 

It's an amazing place obviously, every detail so well preserved.

But as always, I was still thinking naturally, naturally!

From one of the perimeter buildings a Blue Rock Thrush sang, and the commonest birds of all were Tree Sparrow, and of course Italian Sparrow, which I finally got good views of.

In one of the ancient buildings I found this Roussillon Wave Idaea sardoniata,

and there was a great array of Beetles around, mostly unidentified.

But, I think this one is Clytra sexpunctata.

Whilst having lunch, we were visited by a Common Treecreeper.  Pretty restricted in range in these parts by all accounts.

Best bird of all though was a Hoopoe, which was seen in the only green space in the 'city'.

On arrival back at home quite late, I had another quick stint by the outside lights, this time producing only the familiar, with Small Blood-vein,

and a pale form of Small Dusty Wave.

Up to the mountains tomorrow!

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