Naturetrek Trip to Umbria 2nd - 9th May 2004

To see a list of birds seen on this trip click here

I led these two back to back Naturetrek trips to this region of Italy.

Sunday 2nd. May 2004

Arrive Rome at 10.30 local time. Drive to the monastery.  Attempt to do some birding at a coastal bird reserve north of Rome curtailed due to it being very busy - ? a bank holiday. Therefore a trip inland to see if we could find Black-headed Buntings in a hilltop site, near a derelict church - no success. Later, drove to monastery and arrived approximately 6pm - had a lovely three course dinner.

Birds seen:-

Black Kite (1 south of Civitavecchia), Buzzard (1), Kestrel (1), Yellow-legged Gull (1 near Rome), Collared Dove (near Rome), Turtle Dove (calling at the monastery), Cuckoo (calling at the monastery), Swift, Bee Eater (12), Hoopoe (1 at the monastery), Crested Lark (6-7), Swallow, White Wagtail (1), Robin, Stonechat (2 males), Whinchat (1 male), Blackbird,  Blue Tit, Wren, Red-backed Shrike (1 male), Magpie, Hooded Crow, House Sparrow,  Corn Bunting (3-4),

Flowers seen:-

Monkey Orchid (1 flower spike in garden of monastery, adjacent to the swimming pool), Green-winged Orchid (1 flower spike adjacent to the swimming pool)

Other species:-

Common Frog - chorus in pools around the monastery.

Monday 3rd. May 2004

Breakfast at 8:30, greeted by light drizzle which cleared very quicky from the south then became a warm, bright, sunny day with occasional cloud. A walk from the monastery, leaving at 9:30, along the ridge line, and to a tower on a nearby hill. Picnic lunch on a warm hillside, with a wonderful view, in still conditions - perfect. Saunter back at our own pace, arriving back at the monastery at approximately 4:30.

Birds seen:-

Buzzard (1), Kestrel (1), Hobby (1), Goshawk, (1), Woodpigeon (3), Turtle Dove (3-4 calling), Swift, Hoope (3-4 calling), Bee Eater (5), Green Woodpecker (2), Robin (1), Nightingale (1-2), Blackbird (several), Blackcap (1-2), Subalpine Warbler (2-3 including good views of 1 male), Bonnelli's Warbler (2-3 including good views of 1 male on top of a bush), Chiffchaff (2-3), Blue Tit (several), Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch (1), Magpie, Hooded Crow,Jay (2-3 calling), Chaffinch (many in song), Serin (2), Cirl Bunting (2-3 singing male)

Hare (1), Grass Snake (1), Porcupine quills (several)


Blue Bugle, Star of Bethlehem, Three-leaved Anemone, Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Arabis, False Milk Vetch, Rock Rose, Italian Alder, Juniper, Salad Burnet, White Oak, Mistletoe, Green Hellebore, Italian Sainfoin, Tassel Hyacinth, Yellow Milkwort, Purple Bugloss, Scorpion Vetch


Sword-leaved Helleborone

Lizard Orchid (not yet in flower)

Common Twayblade

Bertolini's Bee Orchid (Ophrys bertolinii)

Sombre Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca)

Ophrys garganica

Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)

Early Spider Orchid (Ophrys sphegoides)

Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio)

Mediterranean Green-winged Orchid (Orchis picta)

Provence Orchid (Orchis provencalis)

Toothed Orchid (Orchis tredentata)

Lady Orchid (Orchis purpurea)

Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia)

Lesser Butterfly Orchid (Plantathera bifolia) - not in flower

Violet Bird's Nest Orchid (Limodorum arbortivus) - not yet in flower

Hybrid Lady x Monkey

Tuesday 4th May 2004

From the monastery to Lago Trasimeno, via Umbertide, Castel Rigone, Maggione, San Feliciano, the ringing site at San Savino and nearby lay-by. Then on to Lago di Montepulciano, for picnic lunch, via Chiusi, La Muffa and Villastrada. Finally brief visit to Lago di Chiusi, before return to monastery.

Weather - cloudy most of day. Light showers in the morning, later progressively heavier rain during the day, culminating with heavy rain by the afternoon.

Birds seen:-

Little Grebe (2-3 Lago Trasimeno), Black-necked Grebe (Lago di Montepulciano), Great Crested Grebe (several all lakes), Squacco Heron (3 near lay-by near Lago Trasimeno), Little Egret (4 Lago Trasimeno), Great White Egret (1 Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Purple Heron (1 Lago Trasimeno), Little Bittern (1 female Lago Trasimeno ringing site. Excellent views, clinging to reeds), Mute Swan (1 Lago di Chiusi), Mallard (16 Lago Trasimeno), Garganey (1 drake, Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Pheasant (1 calling Lago Trasimeno), Short-toed Eagle (excellent views of 1 bird flying low over Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Montagu's Harrier (1 female seen briefly, near Castel Rigone), Marsh Harrier (1 distant male, Lago Montepulciano), Goshawk (1 bird near Castel Rigone), Red-footed Falcon (poor view in rain of a female (?) near Lago di Chiusi), Hobby (1 near Lago di Chiusi), Moorhen (2-3 Lago Trasimeno), Coot (10+ Lago Trasimeno), Black-winged Stilt (2 birds at lay-by, Lago Trasimeno), Black-headed Gull (1 Lago Trasimeno, 1 Lago di Chiusi), Yellow-legged Gull (15+ Lago Trasimeno), White-winged Black Tern (7 in mixed flock of 'marsh' terns, in summer plumage, Lago di Montepulciano), Black Tern (6+ Lago Montepulciano), Whiskered Tern (6 Lago Montepulciano), Tawny Owl (2 in grounds of monastery in the evening), Woodpigeon (2), Collared Dove (1), Turtle Dove (3-4, including 2 seen Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Cuckoo (several calling, 1 seen Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Swift (very large numbers over the lakes in the inclement weather), Hoopoe (1 seen near Castel Rigone), Kingfisher (2-3 Lago Trasimeno, 1 Lago di Montepulciano), Crested Lark (1), Sand Martin (20+ Lago di Montepulciano), House Martin (several hundred), Swallow (several hundred), Nightingale (2-3 in song, Lago di Montepulciano), Blackbird, Blackcap (several in song), Reed Warbler (1 in song, Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Great Reed Warbler (1-2 in song Lago Trasimeno and Lago di Montepulciano), Cetti's Warbler (heard at the lakes), Willow Warbler (1 singing Lago di Chiusi), Bonnelli's Warbler (1 singing monastery grounds), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Penduline Tit (heard calling, in reeds, Lago Trasimeno ringing site), Magpie, Jay (heard in monastery grounds), Hooded Crow (several), Jackdaw (2-3 Lago Trasimeno), Starling (3-4), Tree Sparrow (2-3 Lago Trasimeno), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Serin

Flowers seen:-

Urospermum dalechampii

Cyclamen repandum (on the road to Castel Rigone)

Wednesday 5th May 2004

A VERY wet day. Trip to Gubbio for culture. Some of the party went up on the funicular (cages). Some stayed on the ground, taking shelter from the elements. Cold.

Hoopoe (2-3), White Wagtail (1), Peregrine (1 Gubbio), Hooded Crow (several), Serin (several Gubbio), Jackdaw (10 Gubbio)

Also seen near the monatery:-

Red Squirrel (1), Roe Deer (1)

Thursday 5th May 2004

Day to Colfiorito. Route:- Umbertide, E45 to Perugia, then S75 past Assissi to Foligno. Then turn off, over the road, signposted "Abbe di Saaovivo, up to Colfiorito. Pull off at far end of lake / reedbed. Spend lunch at lake then walk up the hill behind the lake for the flowers. Wonderful display of orchids, especially morio and pauciflora, as well as hundreds of Grape Hyacinths. Weather - somewhat better, though still showery and not much sun, but at least we could walk places and do things!

Birds seen:- (all at the lake unless otherwise stated)

Little Grebe, Cormorant (1 immature), Bittern (brief views of one in flight, and a booming bird), Night Heron (1 bird on the nest), Little Egret (3), Grey Heron (4), Purple Heron (1), Teal (1 drake), Buzzard (1 near the monastery), Marsh Harrier (1 female), Sparrowhawk (1 near Assissi), Quail (1 calling at the lake), Pheasant (3-4 near the monastery), Water Rail (1 heard sharming), Coot (several), Common Sandpiper (2), Collared Dove, Woodpigeon (2), Cuckoo (1-2 heard), Bee Eater (4-6 near the monastery), Swift, Hoopoe (2 at the monastery), Crested Lark, Skylark (1), Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail (2 males), Tree Pipit (1), Nightingale (1 singing at picnic site), Wheatear (1 female on hill behind Assissi), Whinchat (1 female), Blackbird, Blackcap (1 female seen), Sedge Warbler (1 called), Reed Warbler (2), Great Reed Warbler (2-3, seen and heard), Spotted Flycatcher (1), Blue Tit (2 at monastery), Penduline Tit (1 male seen and another calling), Hooded Crow, Starling (4), Goldfinch (several), Serin (1 singing at the monastery), Corn Bunting (3-4)

Friday 7th. May 2004

Trip to Monte Cucco, via Gubbio and Scheggia, turning left at sign for Carabierie. Drive to Refugia, stopping for orchids and views on the way up. Coffee at top (shrouded in cloud, with hail storm), then stop at beech forest on way down. Then, lunch in Pizzeria near ESSO petrol station, before going up Monte Cucco from the other side - track only at the top.

Weather - clear to start the day, then clouded over rapidly, with heavy showers and hail, as well as thunder later. Orchids were excellent on the mountain. ? pallens orchid as well as sambucina.


Kestrel (3-4), Cuckoo (1), Green Woodpecker (1), Robin, Blackbird, Jay (4),  Hooded Crow (4), Goldfinch (5-6)


Scarce Swallowtail, Wild Boar (2)

Saturday 8th May 2004

Trip for shopping to Cita di Castello, returning to monastery about 2pm, leaving clients to pack and relax. Toby and I had a trip intro Umbertide and then a walk around the meadows near the monastery. Yet another showery day.


Swift, Hooded Crow, Grey Wagtail (1 male on river, Umbertide), Hoopoe, Bee Eater.


Late Spider Orchid (1 in the meadow), Man Orchid (1 in the meadow)

Sunday 9th May 2004

6.30am departure to drop first week's clients off at Rome, then return to monastery with 2nd week's guests. To Rome direct, return route via Salinas at Citivitecchia, and La Farinesma. Arrive monastery approx 6:30 pm. Sunny, warm in the morning, then some heavy showers on the way back from the coast.

Birds seen:-

Sardinian Warbler (1 in song at motorway service station), Roller (2 birds on way up track to La Farinesma - seen very well by all clients), Hooded Crow, Hoopoe, Bonnelli's Warbler, Turtle Dove, Kestrel, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Egret (3 at Salinas), Mute Swan (2), Mallard (4 at Salinas), Fan-tailed Warbler, Corn Bunting, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Nightingale (2 in song at the salinas), House Sparrow, Serin, Woodpigeon (1), Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Swift, Bee Eater, Green Woodpecker, White Wagtail, Stonechat (1 male, Salinas), Blackbird, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Magpie, Jay, Starling, Italian Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark


Pheasants Eye (La Farinesma), Urospermum dalechampii, Cerinthus, Borage

Also seen:-

Large White, Red Admiral, Orange Tip

Longhorn Beetle

Monday 10th May 2004

A walk from the monastery to the meadow, and along tracks to the tower, reached after lunch. Weather - warm, quite sunny, calm.

Birds seen:-

Pheasant (1), Turtle Dove (2-3), Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Bee Eater, Green Woodpecker, Swallow, Woodlark (1 in song), White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail (1 juvenile on river, Umbertide), Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Subalpine Warbler (1 in song near the monastery), Orphean Warbler (1 in song near the entrance to the meadow), Bonelli's Warbler,  Cetti's Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Magpie, Jay, Hooded Crow, Starling, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting

Also seen:-

Berger's Clouded Yellow, Common Blue, Dingy Skipper, Green Hairstreak, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Small Heath, Small White, Green  Underwing Blue, Wall Brown, Bath White

Hummingbird Hawk Moth, Bee Fly (2 species), Ladybird larva, Processionary Moth caterpillars, Large Earthworm, ? Broad-bodied Chaser - photo., ?Masonry / Tower Bee, Wall Lizards, Frogs, Black Scorpions (6)

Tuesday 11th May 2004

Trip to Colfiorito, via Perugia, Spello and Foligno. Day spent around the lake and on the hillside behind the lake. Lovely warm, sunny day.

Birds seen:-

Bittern (1 booming male), Night Heron (3 adults, 1 juvenile), Grey Heron (6), Mallard (4), Buzzard (2),  Kestrel, Hobby (1), Quail (at least three calling males), Pheasant, Water Rail (1 'sharming' bird), Moorhen, Coot, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove (6), Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Scops Owl  (at least 3 calling birds near the monastery in the evening), Swift, Hoopoe (2-3), Bee Eater (10), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), Green Woodpecker (1-2 heard), Skylark (2), Swallow, House Martin, Tawny Pipit (1), White Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail (3 males), Wren, Robin, Nightingale, Stonechat (1 pair), Blackbird, Blackcap, Whitethroat (1), Reed Warbler (1), Great Reed Warbler (4-5), Chiffchaff, Bonelli's Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Penduline Tit (2 calling birds), Red-backed Shrike (2 males),  Magpie, Jay, Hooded Crow, Starling, Golden Oriole (1 male singing near Umbertide), House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting

Also seen:-

Brimstone, Swallowtail, Small Heath, Orange Tip, Painted Lady, Large White, Wall Brown

Ladybird Beetle, Field Cricket, Lizard

Wednesday 12th May 2004

Trip to Gubbio. Morning spent in museums / town. Then trip to St. Ubaldo's church via Funivia, then return to town, and trip to gorge to view site of Iridium anomaly. Then, slow drive back to monastery, stopping at suitable looking sites for flowers.

Birds seen:-

Kestel, Sparrowhawk (1 over Gubbio), Pheasant, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Swift, Hoopoe, Bee Eater, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart (1 pair, Gubbio), Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Starling, Italian Sparrow, Tree Sparrow (2 Gubbio), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Serin

Also seen:-

Fox, Roe Deer

Thursday 13th May  2004

From the monastery to Lago Trasimeno and bird reserve, then to Lago di Montepulciano, returning via the same route. Dry, cloudy but bright. Sunny later in the day.

Birds: -

But Green (3), Great Crested Grebe (10), Cormorant (2), Little Bittern (one female seen well in reeds), Night Heron (one Montepulciano), Squacco Heron (three Trasimeno), Little Egret (10), Grey Heron (1), Little Heron (2), Mute Swan (one Trasimeno), Mallard (10), Ferruginous Duck (one Trasimeno lay-by), Short-toed Eagle (2 at La Belle Ringing station), Goshawk (one La Belle Ringing station), Kestrel (2), Pheasant (1), Moorhen (2), Coot (50), Black wing Stilt (two Trasimeno lay-by), Yellow legged Gull (30), Woodpigeon (1), Collared Dove (3), Turtle Dove (20), Cuckoo (five), Tawny Owl (1), Swift (50 plus), Hoopoe (6), Kingfisher (3), Green Woodpecker (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1), House Martin (100), Swallow (50), White Wagtail (3), Wren (2), Robin, Nightingale (10), Stonechat, Blackbird, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler (10), Reed Warbler (6), Great Reed Warbler (10), Bonelli's Warbler (2), Great Tit, Blue Tit, Penduline Tit (two, including one seen), Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Starling, Golden Oriole (two Lago Montepulciano), Italian Sparrow (10), Tree Sparrow (4), Chaffinch (6), Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin

Also seen: -

Coypu (2 on the boardwalk), Italian Wall Lizard, wall brown butterfly, shiny green beetle, Common Toad, Mole, porcupine quills.

Friday 14th May, 2004

To Monte Cucco via Gubbio.

Dry, sunny and very warm. Strong wind higher up. Parked at the first part of the hill then a slow walk up. Lunch at the beech wood. then explored here and higher up. A very enjoyable day!

Any Buzzard (good views of one bird Monte Cucco, above the beech wood), Kestrel (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Pheasant (1), Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Scops Owl (one calling bird), Swift (20), Hoopoe (4), Bee Eater (6), Green Woodpecker (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Skylark, Woodlark, House Martin, Swallow, White Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Nightingale, Wheatear (2), Blackbird, Blackcap, so dark line Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Treecreeper (one calling in the beech wood), Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Starling, Italian Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Cirl Bunting (2), Song Thrush (1 near Gubbio)

Saturday 15th May 2004

To San Ponero shopping. Then a walk round the meadow near the monastery. Lovely sunny day. Later returned to the UK.