On our summer cruise from Mantua to Venice, though, we found the Po in much gentler mood and spent much time on the top deck, watching the sparkling waters play around pale beaches, sundappled islands and the vast salt marshes of the Po Delta, which are rich in flamingo, heron, tern, black-necked grebe
and other spectacular birdlife.
1968: Nesting behaviour of the black-necked grebe
Podiceps nigricollis (Brehm) in Southern Africa.
We spent several sunny hours out on the top deck, binoculars at the ready, as our boat glided effortlessly past the pale blonde beaches and sleepy, tree-laden islands of the Po Delta nature park, a vast and verdant region which, fed by six branches of the Po and home to heron, tern, black-necked grebe
and even the occasional flamingo, is one of Europe's most important wetland areas.
Anglesey continued to host Slavonian grebe at Beddmanarch Bay and black-necked grebe
at Cefni Reservoir.
Andrew Seed, 45, was caught when police, acting on a tip off, raided his home and found 2,500 eggs, including osprey, golden eagle and black-necked grebe
- British stronghold for this rare bird since 1980's
Most tantalising, however, is the news that the black-necked grebe
, now in its smart black and chestnut plumage, with golden yellow ear tufts, has stayed into April.
A waxwing over Bangor on Sunday was the first for several weeks, while a long-tailed duck off Newborough, black-necked grebe
on Cefni reservoir and redhead smew at RSPB Valley lakes are all scarce birds this winter.
Species allegedly include osprey, roseate tern, black-throated diver and black-necked grebe
Other eggs include chough, found in parts of Wales and Northern Ireland, black-necked grebe
, found in parts of northern England, and marsh harrier, possibly from southern England.