Sunday, 30 September 2012

Italy wildlife part 1

We've just got back from a fantastic trip to 'Le Marche' in Italy. It is an area on the Adriatic coast which encompasses the dramatic Sibillini Mountains. We arrived at the port city of Ancona, where we saw still-migrating swifts, swallows and martins, which presumably follow the Italian coastline before heading out across the mediterranean to their African wintering zones.

Heading inland to the rolling uplands of olive groves and farmland punctuated by small, red-tiled hilltop towns, we found that birdlife was much less evident than in our corner of Norfolk. We hypothesised that this may be to do with a range of factors, from land management regimes, lack of hedgerows, hunting and widespread feeding of birds in the UK. But maybe the large numbers of lot of raptors also gave a clue?

But the diversity, size and abundance of insect-life was really staggering. If your thing is crickets, grasshoppers and butterflies, it is the place for you. In the garden around us there were huge numbers of all of these. And this in turn meant large numbers of things that predate insects such as lizards, spiders (including this beautiful Wasp Spider Argiope bruennich) and amphibians.

For me, one of the most exciting insects was this enormous bee that we saw. It was around an inch long, fat, mostly black with iridiscent blue wings, and sounded like a small power tool. I think it is probably a Violet Carpenter bee Xylocopa violacea which have occasionally been seen in the UK, but are mostly only found in southern Europe. The butterflies were also great - more about those to come.

And just like Duncan in France, no trip abroad is complete without nearly treading on a huge, ugly toad, such as this chap...

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Ads. We saw a huge carpenter bee in France also and were astonished by its rich iridescent black body and wings, it's quite an intimidating insect to look at but apparently harmless. (Unless you got one in the eye on a cycle-ride perhaps.)