I need a checklist!

Stefano and I spent the past couple of days (it’s a long weekend here in Italy) bird watching in two different bird reserves. On Saturday we went to the Parco della Piana, a public park…a real paradise for birdwatchers because the birds aren’t afraid but come very close to the huts…it’s located in the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino, just outside of Florence…

And yesterday we went to the WWF “Oasi di Gabbianello,” north of Florence, near Barberino di Mugello, for those familiar with Tuscany…(I’ve posted photos from both reserves here on the blog, incidentally, so if you’d like to see more bird photos, just do a Search of my blog.)

On Saturday we were in a bit of a hurry to leave the house, so I didn’t check my camera bag, as I normally do. Mistake! When we arrived at the Parco della Piana and settled in one of the bird watching huts that has a lovely a view of the lake (and the birds), I realized that my camera battery was blinking on “low.”

Ah well, no problem, I thought! I began fishing around in my camera bag but, to my absolute horror!, I discovered that I didn’t have any extra batteries…not even ONE. I’d left them all at home…

And that’s why I need a camera bag CHECKLIST, you see! ;)

I mean, there they were, all those splendid waders and water birds, right in front of me, providing photo ops that would have delighted any professional nature photographer. For instance:

  • A little grebe mamma feeding and teaching her three noisy chicks…(no photos, sorry.)
  • A white heron harassing a pair of black-winged stilts that had just finished building their nest…they were angrily flying around the heron, trying to shoo it away…photo no. 1, top left. The best I have.
  • Another female black-winged stilt who was already keeping her eggs warm on a nearby “island”…photo no. 2, right.
  • A great crested grebe swimming practically at our feet…photo no. 3, here on the right.

And I…I didn’t have an extra camera battery…

Blink blink blink.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I did manage to take several photos before my battery kicked the bucket…but I have to admit at being very disappointed (and a tad envious!) just sitting there and watching the birds (some came sooo close!)…and listening to Stefano’s camera going tatatatatatata! Sigh…

Anyway, that was Saturday…

On Sunday, with my camera bag CHOCK FULL of extra batteries, we spotted fewer birds (at Gabbianello). Typical…

But, and this was terribly exciting!!!, we did catch sight of, and manage to photograph, two new (new to us, that is!) birds:

  1. a ruff, which in Italian is called “combattente” (=literally, “fighter”; see http://goo.gl/4alQG). See photo no. 5, bottom left. 
  2. a squacco heron (“sgarza ciuffetto,” in Italian; see http://goo.gl/A9Tg5). We’d seen a squacco heron at Gabbianello on one other occasion but didn’t know what it was back then. Now we do (sort of). Let me tell ya, a squacco heron isn’t that easy to spot unless you see it in flight (it has easy-to-detect white wings) and manage to follow it until it lands…That’s how Stefano first spotted it, in fact. Okay, now you can play my “spot the bird!” game–try to see where the squacco heron is in photo no. 4, just above, on the right. See what I mean??? Good luck! ;) 

Whenever and wherever we go birding, we bump into Fabio (you can view his photos here (not for sale, btw): http://goo.gl/L1bp0), a very friendly, cheerful and knowledgeable birdwatcher. In fact, Fabio identified the ruff for us on Sunday. It’s really handy to have friends like Fabio when you’re a birding beginner, let me tell ya! :)

Stefano and Fabio get along famously, since they both know everything there is to know (I mean that!) about camera equipment. While I’m checking out the birds on the lake, they begin blabbing about lens aperture, pixels, shutter speed, noise blablablabla. I tune it all out…

As I’ve written on previous occasions, I have one of those “point and shoot” digital cameras with a decent zoom, and that’s good enough for me! :)

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