Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Europe Part 2 - Western Italy to Fitou, France

Black-eared Wheatear
On our last day in Rome we visited the local cemetery close to our apartment where vast quantities of flowers were on sale . It's a treat to wander the paths of these quaint old European cemeteries.

Rome Cemetery
A Eurasian Kestrel put in an appearance.

Eurasian Kestrel
Following our visit to Rome (see following post), we picked up our rental car, negotiated our way through the suburbs of Rome (how did humans survive in pre-GPS days?) and headed north-west, bypassing Florence and Genoa to overnight in the delightful seaside resort town of Laigueglia following a 7-hour drive. An inspection of the crowded beach reminded us of how fortunate we are with the Australian coastline we have at home.

Laigueglia, Italy

Laigueglia, Italy
Eurasian Collared-Dove was common.

Eurasian Collared-Dove
Another long drive the following day saw us head west along the Cote d'Azur in perfect weather and detouring to score a somewhat dodgy country tick in the form of Monaco - the tiny tax haven on the French-Italian border. Here was utter mayhem as authorities were clearing up after the weekend Grand Prix. So already exquisitely narrow, steep roads (if they could be called that) were further cluttered by a convoy of huge trucks.

Finally we arrived in the delightful French Mediterranean village of Fitou, where our friends Ketil and Bente from Norway had kindly allowed to stay in their villa perched in the hills above Fitou.

At Bente and Ketil's villa in Fitou
We wandered the narrow streets of Fitou and the dry Mediterranean coastal scrub in the surrounding rocky hills, criss-crossed with ancient stone fences.

Looking east across Fitou Castle

Windmills and vines
Huge windmills dominate the skyline. The countryside is interspersed with the bright green of grape vineyards; Fitous is famed for its wines.

Fitou hillside

Fitou village
It was nice to connect again with European birds not seen in a good while. Warblers included Common Whitethroat, Sardinian, Western Orphean and Dartford. Most birds were shy and difficult to approach.

Sardinian Warbler
Among the raptors were Common Buzzard, Eurasian Kestrel and European Honey-Buzzard.

European Honey-Buzzard
In the village were numerous Barn Swallows and House Martins.

Barn Swallow
A few Spotless Starlings were among the many European Starlings.

Spotless Starling
Crested Lark and Corn Bunting were common in the dry scrub and farmland patches.

Corn Bunting

Crested Lark
Other birds included Tree Pipit, European Serin, Linnet and Black Redstart.

Black Redstart
A nice surprise were a few pale phase, very smart looking Black-eared Wheatears.

Black-eared Wheatear
We drove over to the coast, checking out the town of Leucate and the Parc Naturel Regional de la Narbonnaise. Calandra Lark was present here.

Common Shelduck
A few waterfowl about including nesting Mallard and Common Shelduck.

Mallard family



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