Thursday, 12 December 2013


I refer you to the birds that have escaped in certain countries, gone on a shagging spree and now in some cases outnumber the original natural species! Now, in our visits to the Algarve, Italy and Cote D'Azur during the last couple of years I have ticked off birds which were certainly not part of the local avifauna, until some berk left some cage doors wide open. Do you count them or not? Well I do, as they are no different to us ticking off Golden Pheasant, Mandarin, Little Owl and Ring-necked (Rose-ringed) Parakeets in dear old Blighty. Let's start in the jolly old Algarve. Whilst wandering around the Parc Ambiental in Vilamoura in October last year, as well as seeing such wonderful species as Booted Eagle, White Stork, lots of Red-rumped Swallows and Spanish Wagtails, I also had cracking views of Common Waxbills and Black-headed Weavers! These birds have been nesting and multiplying all along the Algarve coast and beyond and now have self-sustaining populations. They are now part of the local birdy scene, and are likely to stay that way for the rest of my lifetime. Moving on. In June this year we travelled to Tuscany in Italy for a fortnight's holiday, relaxing, taking in the local history, the beautiful cities (such as Florence) and sampling the local culture and manic Italian driving. I also took in absolutely stunning views of Red-billed Leiothrix (Pekin Robin to you!) lurking in riverside vegetation with Crag Martins flying overhead and Nightingales singing from the same area. Yes, together with the Red Avadavats I saw in a reserve to the south of Montecatini Terme, these are on the 'official' Italian list. Finally, our trip to the Cote D'Azur in October just past. The area around Nice and Cannes seemed to have rather embarrassing numbers of Indian Silverbills, which apparently are increasing in numbers all the time and spreading along the coast quicker than Sebastian Vettel. They are not exactly the most colourful of birds, so who the hell keeps the damned things anyway? Presumably the French aviculturalists who kept them got so bored of looking at them they tipped them out of their cages one dark night. Land at Nice Cote D'Azur Airport. You walk towards the hire car garages and there they are. Loads of them in the bamboo stands planted by the airport designers to provide some sort of 'greenery' in an otherwise grey landscape! We drove over to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat just after we landed and had a wander round the marina. It's a nice place. No dog turds on the pavements, properties kept rather clean and tidy, lots of 'yachts' in the bay and some pretty serious 'metal' on the streets. Oh, and yes, some noisy Lovebirds outside the cafe which we decided to sit outside under an awning whilst a thunderstorm passed over! Now these birds managed to provide superb views, conveniently perching in palm trees just the other side of the street from the cafe. Four of these were pure Fischer's Lovebirds, providing yours truly with another World Lifer. Examine the others closely and it soon became apparent that there were more than one species here, two were clearly Masked Lovebirds and a further two birds seemed to be hybrids between the two species! This clearly produces quite a dilemma. Yes, you can 'tick' the Fischer's as these are on the official French list. However the Masked Lovebirds are not! And yes if the two species keep on having a bit of 'nooky' with one another over the next few years, who's to say whether there will be any pure Fischer's Lovebirds left. Well, they're on my list for now. By the way, I also saw a few Ring-necked Parakeets in the Antibes/Juan les Pins area! Birding just gets more complicated, the older I get...........

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