Swans in love…and a purple heron…

What a day…aaah, what a glorious day…

Truth be told, it wasn’t so glorious when we woke up. On the contrary, it was raining and quite gloomy outside.

Undeterred, we decided to go ahead with our plans–spending the morning at the WWF Oasis of Gabbianello (http://goo.gl/9KJkX), located about a half hour drive from our house…not too far from Barberino di Mugello, for those who know Tuscany…

It’s a wetland area that has become very important for many bird species, migratory ones in particular. In addition to the usual birds we have been accustomed to spotting at the WWF Oasis of Focognano–great-crested grebes, coots, mallard ducks and so on–we also got a few good shots of a purple heron. I mean, a purple heron, you guys! 🙂 What a thrill!

Ah, yes, and this is clearly the season of love, sweet love, as you can see in my second photo… 🙂 Yes, we were lucky enough to witness the elegant mating ritual of a pair of swans…

Since we are not, by any means!, experts in swan behavior, what this pair was doing looked a bit mysterious to us…The only thing that was obvious is that it was all part of their courtship: our two Gabbianello swans were doing a lot of twisting around each other and winding their necks together…and dunking their heads under water over and over again…and circling around each other slowly, in a sort of mesmerizing dance…

Later in the day, after getting home, I read that all this peculiar-looking activity has the purpose of stimulating the swans’ hormones in preparation for…well, you know what…!

In the end, it wasn’t easy to leave our two graceful birds as they were water-dancing cheek to cheek and neck to neck…very sweet, it was…But we were beginning to get hungry…

So we left the oasis and had a late lunch in a nearby osteria, the English translation of which is something like “tavern.” The reason I mention this osteria is because I loved the two verses written on my paper placemat…these are from a poem written by Lorenzo il Magnifico (=Lorenzo de’Medici), the famous 15th century ruler of Florence (see http://goo.gl/VjvTu):

Literally translated:

Whoever wants to be happy, let him be so:
About tomorrow there is no certainty.

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