It has been so hot here. Daytime temperatures have been up in the high 30°s C (97°F+), with humidity at around 50% plus. One night at 3.30am when I couldn't sleep, I checked and the temperature in the house was 31°C (88°F) and the humidity had reached 86%. Plants have been wilting fast, and so have people. We daren't open the windows at night because of the mosquitoes (including tiger mosquitoes) and so fans and air-conditioning have placed such a strain on the electricity supply, that blackouts have been frequent.
The only time that it has been possible to consider doing anything active has been around dawn (anti-mosquito lotion having been applied.) So just as it got light one day last week, Anthony and I grabbed the bikes and headed for the Parco Nord.
We weren't the only ones with the same idea - joggers, dog-walkers and other cyclists were out in force, despite the time of day. But not enough to frighten off the wildlife, which was also taking advantage of the few hours respite from the heat. We headed for the ponds, where we saw moorhens, turtles, shoals of fish, swallows and this grey heron.
We got quite close, and he didn't seem too fazed. But then he must have decided that enough was enough, and took off ...
Grey Heron that we saw, and the Little Egret - a smaller type, completely white in colour. Both types are fairly common in Europe (as well as Africa and Asia), but because Lombardy is an important rice growing region (the largest in Europe), they are particularly common here. They hunt in shallow water and, whether near rivers, canals, ponds,or flooded rice fields, both types are fairly easy to spot wading through the water in search of the frogs and fish that are their main prey.
Lombardy has two types of heron - the large
I don't think I've ever seen one quite so close up though.