2018 highlights of a wilder Italian life

2018 started for me with a trip to Italy to celebrate my birthday with a trip to remember – a visit to Lago di Alviano and the Red Squirrels. It was fabulous to sit in tiny wooden huts no bigger than a toolshed with keen Italians waiting for the call “Scoiattolo!” to ring out as a Red Squirrel approached; the walnuts overcoming their fear and trepidation.

Red Squirrel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
A Red Squirrel at the Lago di Alviano in Italian in Winter 2018.

There are many more photographs on my blog The Imp of the Forest.

As well as Red Squirrels we saw Hawfinches so close we could almost touch them. It was a shock to see what powerful birds they are; massive finches with massive beaks:

My blog has many more photographs and the full story of Hawfinch in the Forest.

Among the smaller birds we saw in Italy were the Siskins. Fierce, challenging and competitive, their size belies their ability to defend their food against all-comers.

Back in Rome with The Puffin Whisperer, it was fascinating to see the havoc caused by thoughtless introductions of species from other parts of the world. The Rose Ringed Parakeets of Rome are a perfect example of what happens when a few introduced individuals exploit an ecological niche they would never have found on their own:

Rose Ringed Parakeet - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Finally there was a trip to Matera, perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth. Here. small falcons, Lesser Kestrels, have taken over the city and nest communally in the roofs. I adore them. They spend their days out in the countryside hunting crickets and millipede and eating them while flying.

It was entertaining to see that the male not only ate while flying but also mated with the female while still munching on a cricket. That takes talent.

I’m looking forward to heading off on some more adventures in Italy in 2019, with my camera in tow, in the time I’m not working to pay for it.

I hope you’ll be able to fill your 2019 with wildlife and nature experiences where and when you can. Life on Earth is so endangered that we need as many people as possible to appreciate the life that surrounds us all and which depends upon us to save it.

What are your favourite places to visit for wildlife and nature? Which ones do you hope to go to this year?

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