It’s still early when we reach the lake at the Lago di Alviano. It’s a place of mists and muffled sounds. There’s the familiar shape of a Marsh Harrier flying languidly over the distant watery pools on the other side of the lake:
The Western Marsh Harrier’s scientific name is Circus aeruginosus. Circus means circle, because of the habit of flying in circles, and aeruginosus means rusty. It’s a Rusty Circler.
It’s a glorious sight for our early morning start. I’ve seen them before in Somerset:
Hen Harriers were extinct in mainland Britain in the 19th Century, due to farming land-use changes and persecution by gamekeepers. They were then poisoned by DDT and now they are still persecuted by gamekeepers, their nests are disturbed and their eggs collected. Their population is probably still a fraction of what it should be, given our destruction of wetland habitats.
This one looks magnificent in the greyness and the gloom:
Head down, it considers an attack, then flies on: