Garden Birding - in Italy

Our next door neighbours very kindly invited us to spend a few days with them at their house in Emilia-Romagna, in the lower Apennines west of Bologna. While we saw a few birds tramping around the hills, the most exciting action was in their garden!  

View from the house.

There's not much more pleasant in life than sitting in the shade sipping a large Rentini*, binoculars and camera at the ready. Unfortunately I only took the 300mm lens, not the big one. This was a shame as the birds were very wary on the whole and all the pics are heavily cropped. 

The real stars of the garden were a family of Red-backed Shrikes, the adults and two constantly importuning youngsters. They must have begged for food for at least eight hours a day.


For sheer elegance, it's always hard to beat a Hoopoe, or two. A pair often patrolled the very bottom of the garden.

The garden had its own sparrow flock, at least 50 Tree Sparrows! It's been a few years since I saw any in the UK, so I was very happy. :-)

There were a few other birds around, Serins, Italian Sparrows, Spotted Flycatchers, White Wagtails and Black Redstarts.

Now, if you've read "My Family and Other Animals" you may remember the "Rose Beetle Man". I got ridiculously excited to find these beetles where you might expect them...

These weren't the only showy insects.

* Rentini - the recipe (named after Frank Renton, our host).

  • Add a lot of ice to a big, preferably bowl-shaped glass.
  • Put in one large measure of Cinzano (the red one)
  • Add two measures of orange juice (blood-orange gives a better colour)
  • Add a dash of soda water for a few bubbles
  • Finally, add a good dash of white wine

(experiment with the proportions, but not too liberally or you'll fall over)

The Rentini.

"Let loose the Kraken!"

  • Lovely photo set;     that's what I call a relaxing holiday break !   stunning scenery whilst you enjoy that thirst quenching Rentini and what brilliant species of bird and butterflies you saw Stuart;  let me know if the house on the other side of your neighbour comes up for sale   lol    


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Not too relaxing Hazel, I missed out the hiking up and down the hills in the national park next door in 35 degree heat ;-) Apart from the hordes of Buzzards and Kestrel, other birds were very hard to see. It's a beautiful area, but as we've sadly seen recently, it's a bit prone to earthquakes! (We were well north of this recent one though).

    "Let loose the Kraken!"

  • In reply to Stuart Vine:

    35 degrees would definitely put a stop to uphill walking !   Great the raptors must have been lovely to see too.    Yes, as you mentioned, the recent earthquakes were shocking and the huge loss of life.  


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    great set Stuart, i'm still yet to see a Hoopoe abroad (or at home) so quite envious there. On the drinks foot I find that ice takes up too much room -:)




    My Flickr:

  • That looks like my kind of birding holiday. Sitting on the patio with binoculars in reach and sipping a glass or three of Rentini and looking forward to delicious Italian food in the evening. Unfortunately, all the birding trips I've  been on drag me out at the crack of dawn.

    Nice shots Stuart. Especially the butterflies. I recognise the Scarce Swallowtail but what is that gorgeous Fritillary?



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Lovely photos Stuart, birds, heat and wine? sounds good to me   Nice to see some Tree Sparrows, and the Hoopoe bird is always lovely to view.

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to Bobs_Still_Retired:

    Hi Bob, it took me years to see my first Hoopoe, now I can't avoid them (apart from in the UK). The easiest place is probably on the hills around the Acropolis - particularly on the archaeological sites. ;-)

    "Let loose the Kraken!"

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    Hi Tony, I'd tentatively go for Silver-washed Fritillary, but other opinions would be welcome! If we're not staying with slug-a-bed neighbours, we're usually out at dawn.... and then back to a nice shady base for a cooling drink and a siesta when it gets really hot. ;-)

    "Let loose the Kraken!"