I love the hills and fields in Tarquinia. We’re here on a Little Owl hunt. That’s hunting with cameras and good intentions, with a bag full of ethical principles which include non-disturbance and refusal to bait or feed to get a photo.
We have good intel on where they’ve been seen and the best time to see them. They love small abandoned stone buildings and piles of stones in fields. This abandoned house has one such tiny stone outbuilding at the back of it and serves as a great hide so we don’t disturb their natural routine.
All we see are Geckos.
This one is a Tarentola mauritanica, a Common or Moorish Wall Gecko or, as it’s also known a Salamanquesa, Crocodile Gecko or European Common Gecko. Crocodile Gecko is my favourite name for them. Looking very closely between its toes I can see red dots. They look like red spider mites.
Back along the road we see a small crow-like silhouette. It’s not a Cornacchia (a Hooded Crow), it’s not a Taccole (Jackdaw), it’s not a Ghiandaia (Jay) and it’s not a Gazza (a Magpie). As we get closer, we can see that it’s turquoise. It’s a Ghiandaia Marina; a European Roller:
It’s a wonderful exotic bird. This is as close as we can get to it as we drive along the road. It’s perched high on the roadside.
It’s wonderful, but it’s not a Little Owl.