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July 6- August 1, 2009

We left Budapest Hungary on July 6,2009 and visited Postojna in Slovenia; San Marino, Venice, Abruzzo National Park, Rome, Orbetello, Pisa, Florence, Verona, and Bormio in Italy; and Lauterbrunnen, Leukerbad and Flims in Switzerland.

Total driving miles was 3,020.

The weather was exceptional with 25 out of 29 days being sunny and beautiful.

We visited the summits of Passo Dello Stelvio in Italy, and the Schiltorn and Cassongrat in Switzerland. Fortunately, the weather was perfect even when we visited these high alpine areas. I observed a total of sixty-two species during this trip but more importantly, I was able to observe and photograph all six of my special target birds: Greater Flamingo, Lammergeier, Snow Finch, Ptarmigan, Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor!

Fourteen of the 29 days involved no birding and were either spent sightseeing or driving leaving 15 days (73 hours total) for bird photography. Most of the 62 observed species are common and widespread except for the six species above and Golden Eagle and Peregrine Falcon. Below are more detailed reports for my six target species and the two other significant species.

Greater Flamingo- July 9, Found 300-400 Flamingos at Salina Di Camacchio and Salina Di Cervia . Camacchio was closed with no access but Cervia allowed views from small road at a 100 meters distance.

Lammergeier- July 23, Observed a Lammergeier flying low over Passo Dello Stelvio at 7AM. We then drove into Valle De Brauilo and I observed the nest of this pair. We then visited Valle Zebru and found both adults and a fledgling on the cliff in and near the nest. Observed both adults perched close together but at a great distance. After about one hour both adults flew off in different directions. July 24, I drove back to Valle De Braulio Lammergeier nest site. Saw Golden Eagle then Lammergeier at 9:30AM. For 1.5 hours I watched Lammergeier flying along cliff and observed a Lammergeier flying into nest cave. I was very fortunate to observe and photograph two of the very few nesting pairs of Lammergeier in the Alps. Thanks to Mr. Enrico Bassi, and Francesca Of Stelvio National Park for their very valuable assistance and kindness.

Snow Finch- July 23, Observed a pair of White-winged Snowfinch that had a nest in a building along the Passo Dello Stelvio road.

Ptarmigan- July 24, Went to Passo Dello Stelvio ski area at 6AM .walked up dirt road at 400 yards and found a group of approximately 12 Ptarmigan.

Wallcreeper-July 27,Drove to Leukerbad and visited the Wallcreeper location Hohe Brucke over the Feschelbach Gorge from @2-3PM and then 5PM-5:30 PM. July 28, drove to Feschelbach Gorge at 5:30 AM Clouds and fog were present. From 6AM-6:30 AM scanned gorge walls but no Wallcreeper. Drove back up to Leukerbad but clouds were present so returned to Hohe Brucke. Still overcast. At 8AM spotted a Wallcreeper on the left wall of the gorge looking up from the bridges. It was about 50 meters from the rim. I observed this bird for 20 minutes. It creeped over the surface for about 10 minutes then flew about 50 meters towards the bottom of the gorge. We returned at 11AM and looked for the Wallcreeper for a half hour but could not locate it. I visited this location four times for a total of 2.5 hours but only observed the Wallcreeper during one of the four visits. Seeing a Wallcreeper at this location can be difficult because the gorge continues above and below the two bridges for hundreds of meters and the gorge walls are close to 100 hundred meters from the top to the stream at the bottom. Many of the cliffs in the gorge are recessed and hidden from view from the observation areas on the two bridges.

Alpine Accentor- July 29, Went on the first chairlift to Cassongrat arrived at summit 9:45AM. Within 50 meters of the station , I observed and photographed an Alpine Accentor from 10 meters or less. Fifteen minutes later I found a second or the same bird with a beak full of insects (same as snowfinch behavior) A third Alpine Accentor was observed in the 1.5 hours at the summit but these were the only birds seen on the summit the entire time.

Golden Eagle- July 23, Observed 2 Golden Eagles, one in Valle de Brauilo and 1 in Valle Zebru.

Peregrine Falcon- July 27, observed at Feschelbach Gorge.

Michael Walther

Oahu Nature Tours
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