In search of Mediterranean warblers in Tuscany

This morning we left Viareggio but before we started our 1,000km long trip home I wanted to give a chance of finding some more warbler species in one of the most famous wine region of the world. Tuscany is a beautiful province of Itlay. I fell in love with this wine region within a minute. The landscape, the people, the wines and the tranquility make this land extraordinary and visitors just want to return just before they leave this atmosphere.

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Olive tree avenue to the Casa Emma Winery. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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The entrance of the very intimate Casa Emma Winery where European Goldfinches were chasing each other. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Birding wise it was light but some nice species was seen. Sardinan Warblers were singing at several spots like at San Donato. Also in San Donato I saw the very first Common House Martins for this year. In La Croce I heard and saw a beautiful Common Redstart singing on a chimney. In Radda in Chianti I saw two other Common Redstarts where we had our lunch break. While we were waiting for our extra sized pizza a dark phase Booted Eagle was flying just over the terrace of the pizzeria. It was strange to me that very very few birds of prey was seen during the whole trip in Italy. Barn Swallows, Italian Sparrows, European Blackcaps and Common Chiffchaffs were singing all around.

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Typical Toscan terrior. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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In about a month Mediterranean warblers will sing in these beautiful bushes. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Tuscany provided some extraordinary memories and made sure that we return the soonest.

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Sudden idea to jump to the sea

We decided to return to a place we had been years ago with my birding friend, Tamás Zalai. Then we targeted to find the wintering Pine Buntings around Viareggio, Italy and we succeeded to find some birds. Today we woke up early morning to drive to this lovely coastal town with full of Mediterranean feelings.

With the first morning lights, as we approached the coastline, I saw several flocks of Western Cattle Egrets. Spring progressed well close to the Mediterranean Sea coastline and it was a pleasure to see green leaves and feel warm whiffs.

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Western Cattle Egret. © Gyorgy Szimuly

In Viareggio we had to wait until our hotel room was prepared so decided to visit the sandy beach. Kea has seen the sea for the first time and apparently enjoyed it. It was too early to swimm but it was fun to collect shell pieces.

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Kea and me at the sea. © Andrea Szimuly

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Beautiful road to Torre del Lago. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Images of the Viareggio coastline. © Gyorgy Szimuly

On the sea I could see some Great Crested Grebes and some Mediterranean Gulls were flying by with a few Black-headed Gulls. In the afternoon I picked up my Swarovski bino and drove along the shoreline to southeast direction and visited the Pine Bunting area. It was just west to Torre del Lago at the coast line. The coastline was scattered mainly by Common Juniper bushes. The only “exotic” species I could hear and see was some Sardinian Warbler. The gorgeous red eyering was seen pretty well on a singing male. I love to see these Mediterranean warblers. They are so attractive. In this habitat European Blackcaps, Common Chaffinches, Common Chiffchaffs, European Robins, Song Thrushes, European Blackbirds and European Greenfinches were singing endlessly. Over the sea about 200 Mediterranean Gulls were swimming with Yellow-legged Gulls and a few Black-headed Gulls. Here a flock of drake Garganey were chasing each others. It was strange to see them on the sea as normally we see them on freshwater in Hungary.

As spring migration has just started I was not expecting to find more local speciality and returned to the hotel. I was, however, surprised to see two Common Swifts in late afternoon just next to the harbour of Viareggio. They arrived quite early event to this warm Mediterranean part of Europe. I have no idea if this is a regular timing or they were really too early. I should not say that the promenade was full of the recently split Italian Sparrow (from House Sparrow).

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Italian Sparrow was abundant in the town (this image was taken by a Nikon V1). © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Evening lights in Viareggio, Italy. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Birding around Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria

Traveling with a kid sometimes overwrites plan especially birding plans. I have to be more consistent in following my plans but birding was nice anyway. I was not sure if I could find my target species, the Citril Finch but I hoped.

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The entrance of the Swarovski Optik factory. © Gyorgy Szimuly

In the morning I visited the Swarovski Optik factory and said hello to some people. They were so kind. I wish I could manage to see the production lines in life. From the factory we turned to a small road (L225) which runs at the foothill of the higher peaks of the Alps. Birds were active but the number of species was rather limited along the road. Willow Warblers, Common Chiffchaffs, Common Chaffinches, Eurasian Greenfinches, Coal Tits were the most abundant songbirds but again many Carrion Crows was seen between Absam and Terfens. As weather warmed up Common Buzzards were soaring over the cliffs. Unfortunately no signs of the presence of Citril Finches was detected. This is Dale Forbes‘s homeland but unfortunately he is out of office today. I am sure he could help me to find some Citrils if it is not too early for that species.

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Church of St. Martin, Tyrol, Austria. © Gyorgy Szimuly

In the afternoon I was birding in a small village, named Mühltal. I parked the car (for € 2) and started to walk on the trail of the foothill of the Niederstasse Wald in my sandals. Forgot the tiny fact that the winter is still here so gave up walking after the first hunderd meter when the path turned to be ice covered. I simply could not make a step forward so returned to the car. I made some birding around the car park. I was happy to see 2 Eurasian Crag Martins, a male Black Redstart, a singing Common Chiffchaff, a Coal Tit, a few Carrion Crows and 3 Common Buzzards. Common Chaffinces were singing everywhere.

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Common Chaffinch. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Stream of Mühltal. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Ice and snow covered track in the Alps. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Images from Mühltal. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The evening was spent in the historical part of Innsbruck which delighted our time. The warm lights, the wonderful temperature and seeing the social life of the Tyrolese people made this evening unforgettable.

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Collection of images of the historical part of Innsbruck. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A wonderful short trip to the homeland of Swarovski Optik

The best thing is when business could be linked with family trips and, of course, some birding. Today we geared up early morning and travelled to home of Swarovski Optik in Tyrol, Austria. Now I understand how the Swarovski’s engineering team could design and produce such awesome products what we, birdwatchers, are enjoying. Absam and Innsbruck is such a wonderful place. While the temperature was over 20 °C, the peaks of the Alps was still snow covered. I was impressed by this amazing contrast as well as by the friendly local people. They are so different compared to the eastern Austrian people.

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Historical centre of Absam. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Today was more about the family and less about the birds. We simply enjoyed being together, the spectacular scenery and the lovely weather. The best species was a single Red Kite flying over our car east to Salzburg. I have not seen this secies for years. Certainly the most abundant species was the Carrion Crow and Western Jackdaw in this alpine region. In the evening a Grey Wagtail was flying next to the Inn River in Innsbruck. At our hotel, in Igls, Coal Tits, Willow Warbler and Eurasian Siskins were singing. That was about the birds for today. Without knowing the exact location for the sought after Citril Finch, I doubt I find one tomorrow. That is one of the three potential lifers in this region.

I post some landscape and city images of the region as bird images are still missing. However, there is something at the corner…

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A view to the Alps from Vill. © Gyorgy Szimuly

A wonderful short trip to the homeland of Swarovski Optik

The best thing is when business could be linked with family trips and, of course, some birding. Today we geared up early morning and travelled to home of Swarvski Optik in Tyrol, Austria. Now I understand how the Swarovski’s engineering team could design and produce such awesome products what we, birdwatchers, are enjoying. Absam and Innsbruck is such a wonderful place. While the temperature was over 20 °C, the peaks of the Alps was still snow covered. I was impressed by this amazing contrast as well as by the friendly local people. They are so different compared to the eastern Austrian people.

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Historical centre of Absam. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Today was more about the family and less about the birds. We simply enjoyed being together, the spectacular scenery and the lovely weather. The best species was a single Red Kite flying over our car east to Salzburg. I have not seen this secies for years. Certainly the most abundant species was the Carrion Crow and Western Jackdaw in this alpine region. In the evening a Grey Wagtail was flying next to the Inn River in Innsbruck. At our hotel, in Igls, Coal Tits, Willow Warbler and Eurasian Siskins were singing. That was about the birds for today. Without knowing the exact location for the sought after Citril Finch, I doubt I find one tomorrow. That is one of the three potential lifers in this region.

I post some landscape and city images of the region as bird images are still missing. However, there is something at the corner…

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A view to the Alps from Vill. © Gyorgy Szimuly