Ali (Wings) - Spring 2012

Editorial Spring 2012

NOBODY SAID IT WOULD BE EASY

David Lingard

Almost everyone involved in nature conservation is finding life very difficult, as the vitally needed funds are drying up almost daily.

Like most similar organisations, LIPU relies on contracts from the state or regional authorities for a large part of its income. However, in the last four years the budget of the Environment Ministry has been slashed to a tenth of its former level and this cannot fail to cause problems for our friends in Italy.

The legacy of the banking crisis is that governments have to make a real attempt to balance the books after decades of borrowing without a thought of how they were to repay the debt. The new realism simply means that priorities are being set as to what spending by governments can be cut and what cannot. Tragically, the needs of the environment always count for little when placed against healthcare and similar human needs.

I offer these grim comments in the Spring edition of the Ali – the one which carries our only appeal for donations over and above your annual membership subscription. We are proud to be different from those charities which bombard members with appeals on an almost monthly basis but that makes this time of the year doubly critical to our success.

As in every year, we have agreed with our friends in Parma that we will fund four projects in the year ahead. We make this agreement in good faith and then hope that our fund raising meets the target – until three years ago this was always easily achieved. Since then we have been less successful and, this year, we have had to reduce our support commitment – full details are in this issue.

Please give us all the help you can in this appeal, the needs of birds in Italy are decreasing only slowly but the funds to carry on the vital work are becoming harder and harder to find. In past years you have responded magnificently to the call, please help us again and make Italy a safer and better place for the birds we love.

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COVER STORY

Vittorio Giacoia, the warden of the LIPU Oasi “Gravina di Laterza” in Puglia sent me this report.

On a Sunday morning in December I arrived at the visitor centre of the LIPU oasis and, as always, I was going to open the gate to the centre. It was then that I saw a bird of prey hovering on the edge of the ravine at about 25-30 metres high, it was the size of a buzzard, but it was very clear that it was not a buzzard, but I could not identify the strange bird of prey. Unfortunately I did not have binoculars and a few minutes later, once I had opened the visitor centre, the bird had disappeared. Unfortunately, I heard gunfire in the distance and my thoughts immediately went to that raptor flying so low. I had other matters to deal with, and after about an hour a car stopped in front of the visitor centre of the oasis. A man got out and asked me if I was part of LIPU, I nodded and the man opened the boot of the car and pulled out a bird of prey which, from a distance, I again thought was a buzzard. He told me that he had been in a forest about two km away and was intent on looking for mushrooms when suddenly the raptor fell in front of him. He tried to catch it, but at first the sharp claws of the eagle wounded him in the fingers of his right hand. Then a second attempt was successful and he decided to bring it to the LIPU visitor centre. The Booted Eagle was taken the next morning to the rehabilitation centre for the Region of Puglia, where it received the best of treatment. The bird is still in the centre and is responding well to treatment; it is most likely that in the spring it will be released in the same place where his journey had been interrupted.

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HUNTING AND POACHING

by Danilo Selvaggi, LIPU Head of Institutional Relations, and Andrea Mazza, LIPU Press Office

Hopeful signs from the South

The 2011/12 hunting season is over. Some regions are complying with the law, while others show serious breaches.

It is 31 January 2012, and Italy breathes a huge sigh of relief: the hunting season is over. Relief in the woods, where people fear to walk; relief on the land, invaded by hunters who ‘overlook’ the safe distance around houses. Relief amongst hunting guards, who this year have encountered particularly difficult and disturbing situations. And finally, a symbolic sigh of relief from the wild birds and animals, targets of a long and brutal season.
Better protection

And yet, there have been positive signs. For a long time Italy has ignored important provisions of the Birds Directive. Following prosecution and a fine for non-compliance, law 157/92 was enacted which, among other things, outlaws hunting during the pre-breeding migration period. Following a campaign by LIPU, environmentalists and animal protection organisations, 11 regions have fallen into line, mainly in the South. Led by Puglia, they have changed the opening of hunting for woodcock, thrush and waterfowl from the traditional third Sunday of September to the first of October, and brought forward the closing date by 10-20 days. This is an important change, given the importance of January to their breeding habits, and the natural difficulties of such a cold month. This suggests a sensible next step: that hunting be closed on 31 December.

Worst offenders

Not all regions have been as compliant. Seven: Lombardy, Liguria, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Sardinia and Lazio, have ignored the new law completely, and the worst cases, Lazio and Sardinia, have refused to comply even with the orders of Regional Administrative Tribunal and the Council of State. The illegitimate actions of Lazio and Sardinia, with their irreversible damage to wildlife, have pushed us into action. Following repeated warnings, we are resorting to the Public Prosecutors and the Audit Court. We are not going to tolerate destruction of nature and neglect of the rule of law any longer.

Anti-poaching:

Cagliari – 8,000 snares destroyed

It is called ‘Pillonis de taccula’: an eight-bird skewer eaten as a delicacy around Cagliari, mainly in the Christmas period. A LIPU anti-poaching camp in Sardinia has achieved impressive results against this illegal and cruel ‘tradition’. Together with CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter), the volunteers hid miniature cameras in the woods. These cameras filmed six of these poachers, who were reported to the Carabinieri at Capoterra for illegal poaching and cruelty to animals.

Working in collaboration with the Carabinieri, camp volunteers have destroyed 7,934 bird snares and 50 wire cages for trapping medium to large mammals. Volunteers also succeeded in putting a name to three poachers previously filmed in 2010, again by hidden cameras. In raids on their homes, Carabinieri discovered and confiscated both frozen birds and poaching equipment.

A man from Capoterra was stopped by the Carabinieri and reported for illegal poaching, cruelty to animals and possession of specially protected species.

Brescia – Two tons of traps removed

LIPU agents, acting under the leadership of Inspector Piergiorgio Candela, have been active in the area around Brescia, where ‘seasonal’ poaching is a continuous, open sore. Tens of badly-treated dogs have been found, kept on short chains and without adequate shelter. Over two tons of bow and gin traps have been removed, holding over a hundred dying robins and other birds, as well as cages of various sizes for trapping animals.

The volunteers have also located a thousand metres of nets, containing countless dead birds, all strangled. Several decoy birds were also found, imprisoned in small, filthy cages, and these have been set free. In some cases the traps and nets were set out in plain view, near to chicken coops, vegetable patches, gardens, and woods sheltered by mountain passes.

The agents were helped in their work both by detailed information volunteered by legal hunters, worried that their dogs would be caught in the poachers’ nets, and by horrified tourists, who stumbled upon dying robins, caught in row upon row of snares.

THE BLACKBEARD VULTURE, THE GOLDEN EAGLE AND POISON

by Simona Imperio

Persecuted for Centuries, the Lammergeier returns to the Alps.

It deserves the reintroduction project, which has had particular success in the Stelvio Park, watched over by LIPU activists. A success story? It’s a bit early to say - and watch out for poison pellets.

The mysterious Blackbeard, and a splendid Golden Eagle, threatened unknown to them by a powerful poison introduced into their food - it seems like a horror story, but it’s all too true.

The Golden Eagle is known to everyone for its majesty, but have you ever seen a Lammergeier – a Lamb Vulture? It is an extraordinary creature, a vulture with a wing span of up to 2.60 metres, with a ruddy orange breast, and a white head from which sprout two locks of bristly black feathers, which surround the eye and fall below the beak, to form a sort of beard, (hence the name “Bearded Vulture”). Like all vultures, it feeds on animal carcases, and in particular their bones.

However, it was the subject of various terrifying legends, which would have it as a widespread raptor of children. Thus, a harmless creature which inhabited all the mountainous regions of Southern Europe was mercilessly exterminated from the Alps at the beginning of the last century – in Europe it was present in stable populations only in the Pyrenees, Corsica and Crete.

From 1986 to today, an ambitious programme of reintroduction, in which Italy, France and Austria were involved, has released over 150 young birds over a range of about 300 km. Until 2011, in Italy there were 5 pairs present in the National Park of Stelvio and neighbouring areas, and 2 or 3 pairs in the Val D’Aosta. One pair of the birds bred successfully in the Park in 1998, the first in Italy - and only the second success in the whole of the Alps.

And it is here, in this splendid Alpine park, among unspoiled woods and sheer cliffs, that four LIPU activists decided a few months ago to take part in the annual census of Lammergeier and Golden Eagle. Every year in October about 500 volunteer surveyors, in the whole of the Alpine range (160 of them in Stelvio alone) take key positions to record simultaneously the presence of pairs and single members of the two species, often, like ourselves, facing snow and ice! The experience has been gratifying, above all in seeing so many people enthusiastically involved, knowing that they are contributing to the success of the project. The result is that the population seems to be showing a slow but continuous growth.

A success story, then? We cannot yet lower our guard. The breeding pairs of Lammergeier are still too few, and it takes little to disturb a sitting pair and make them abandon the eggs. Other potential dangers include poisoning by lead from the ammunition use by hunters of ungulates (deer), a real danger for all predators of carrion, as reported for the first time in Italy, in the Study of Incidence in the Fauna Hunting Plain of the Province of Sondrio in 1997. In the following years, the Province of Stelvio, with the collaboration of the Cariplo Foundation and the Province of Sondrio itself, promoted the project, “Welcome Back Lammergeier”, seeking to improve the knowledge of the species itself and promote concrete and lasting action for its conservation. Work of awareness-raising and scientific research which will help these marvellous creatures to resume the noble role which awaits them in our mountains.

Interview with Enrico Bassi, of Stelvio Park

Raptors and Lead Poisoning

“The impact of lead-poisoning on vultures and partial carrion-eating raptors is much greater than was thought.” So says Enrico Bassi, ornithologist of the Stelvio National Park who, from 2008, with Maria Ferloni, of the Fauna of the Park of Stelvio, works on the experimental research on the risk of lead poisoning, in the project “Welcome Back Lammergeier”.

How did the project start?

After having registered 2 cases, in 2005 and 2008, of Alpine Lammergeier poisoned by lead, we discovered that this had already been covered in the literature. In the last decade, in fact, several cases of lead poisoning in raptors have been reported. Furthermore, in Bavaria the ornithologist Brendl considers lead poisoning the prime cause of unnatural deaths in Golden Eagles.

But how is it possible that they ingest all this lead?

The deer hunters, in all Alpine countries, use traditional lead bullets, which, after the animal is struck, fragment into dozens of minuscule shreds. It is common practice to empty out the slaughtered head at the hunting place, so as not to contaminate the meat and to reduce the weight to carry home. Poisoning of the raptors is certain when they feed on abandoned entrails, containing lead fragments.

What are the results of your researches?

At present we have analysed about 150 deer entrails and these show a medium-positive presence of lead in more than 60% of samples, in some species 70%. The risk that a predator could feed on contaminated entrails is thus much higher than was previously thought.

How might we eliminate this potential threat to predators?

Thanks to this research, the Province of Sondrio will adopt the requirement, during the hunting-season 2012 – 2013, to substitute lead bullets with less fragmentary bullets, made of other metals and alloys; alternatively, we expect the complete removal of entrails from the scene of slaughter.

So how have the authorities received these proposals?

The Province of Sondrio and the Park of Stelvio accepted these problems immediately, putting men and financial resources at our disposal. The Region of Lombardy has also definitely approved these actions.

What about the hunters?

There is still a certain scepticism, but in general they have shown understanding. Many have in fact immediately co-operated with the project, providing entrails and information useful to research.

Can we be optimistic?

The first years will be the most critical, but the future course of deer hunting is going in the right direction, and particularly that of single-material bullets, (which do not fragment), made of alternative material to lead, already much used in Austrian and German practice.

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SARDINIA – POACHING

LIPU Press release 9 January 2012

Sardinia. Volunteers at an anti-poaching camp have been threatened, then attacked with stones. LIPU has identified the offenders and is taking civil action.

“Get lost you *****, we’re going to kill you.” “Leave us alone, you *****.” These threats were made to LIPU volunteers by poachers near Capoterra and Assemini, in the Basso Sulcis area of Sardinia, where an anti-poaching camp is at work. The volunteers managed to dodge a hail of stones thrown at them by poachers, although a car was hit by a rock smashing one of its windows. “We are victims of violent and unacceptable behaviour”, says Fulvio Mamone Capria, president of LIPU BirdLife Italy, who was working at the camp. “Some of the poachers have been identified from previous reports to the Carabinieri. We are taking legal action”, he continues, “to have these poachers banned from the areas where they lay their traps, and to have them charged with threatening behaviour. In future we will need to take precautions to avoid a repetition of such aggression.”

“We are combing the area alongside our colleagues from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), who have joined us from all over Italy. Searching even off the beaten track, we have made safe thousands of traps laid on the ground and up in the trees” says Giovanni Malara, LIPU anti-poaching director and camp co-ordinator. “Recently we discovered tens of dead birds, including Robins, Hawfinch, thrushes, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds, and even a Sparrowhawk, found hanging from a branch, its leg caught in a snare. The Sparrowhawk is an important bird for Sardinian biodiversity, and its capture confirms both the indiscriminate methods used by illegal hunters, and the damage that they are capable of causing to the island’s wildlife.”

LIPU volunteers have discovered thousands of bird and mammal traps in just two weeks. The operation will continue as planned.

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BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL

by Giovanni Albarella, LIPU report section

Paraguay, a paradise threatened by deforestation

Situated in the centre of Latin America, Paraguay is divided in two by its eponymous river: the northern part of the country, called Chaco, is the wilder part, rich in biodiversity and with few inhabitants, whilst the southern part contains the capital, Asunción. Although Paraguay is quite small compared with the other countries of South America, it is, however, characterised by a remarkable environmental diversity and a very rich variety of animals, especially birds, with about 712 species recorded. We spoke to Alberto Yanosky, director of Guyra Paraguay, which is a partner of BirdLife International.

Alberto, what are the main threats for birds in Paraguay?

The main threat is certainly the loss of territory. Paraguay contains six important ecoregions, two of which are in particular danger: the Atlantic Forest, which has lost 90% of its original extent to deforestation, and the Forest of Chaco, which has undergone deforestation at a rate of 1,200 hectares per day. Other threats come from the uncontrolled increase in agriculture, water pollution and urbanisation.

One of your principal activities is protection of forests. What are the objectives?

We are working in many areas to show the importance of the forests in supplying the ecosystems. Guyra Paraguay are conducting a project included in the programme “Forest of Hope”, which is evaluating the value of 10 thousand hectares of virgin forest in offsetting the production of 850 thousand tons of CO2, in order to ensure conservation. This includes 270 hectares in collaboration with the indigenous Mbya tribe in the Atlantic Forest, and another 4,700 hectares with the Ishir tribe in the Chaco-Pantanal region.

Do you believe that the laws in Paraguay are effective in conserving nature?

Legislation in Paraguay is innovative, modern and comprehensive, but the great problem is that the authorities do not enforce the laws. One example is the case of the Bay of Asunción, an Important Bird Area (IBA) protected by national laws. However, this habitat has been badly damaged as a result of the planning and construction of an enormous highway along the bank of the River Paraguay, with negative effects on American migratory routes.

Do you collaborate with BirdLife partners from other South American countries?

Yes, on a permanent basis, and not only in south America. Along with partners from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, we founded the Prairie Alliance, and with many American partners we are collaborating to safeguard migratory and aquatic birds. In addition we have worked with Nature Kenya by giving help to conserve fragile habitats.

Thanks to your efforts, the Bare-throated Bellbird (Procnias nudicollis) has been recognized as the national bird. Why was this species chosen?

Paraguay has a very widespread musical tradition and many popular songs refer to birds: the most popular one is Pájaro Campana (Bare-throated Bellbird). Following a petition with more than 25 thousand signatures, we promoted a law which when passed in Congress recognised the Bare-throated Bellbird as the national bird of Paraguay.

Guyra Paraguay was born in 1997: what are the prospects for such a young association?

  1. Our ambition is to be recognized as an authoritative organization in the field of conservation of biodiversity and in the sustainable use of natural resources, especially with respect to birds and their environment. Our prospects are based on six pillars:
  2. Conservation of species, by means of the monitoring of threatened populations, and creating specific action plans;
  3. Conservation of sites by means of the promotion of sustainable use of resources in priority areas for biodiversity;
  4. Promotion of the landscape by means of constant monitoring of all ecoregions and the promotion of sustainable agriculture;
  5. Influencing policies so that biodiversity conservation, climate change and land use are indirectly taken into account in all decisions;
  6. Participation by citizens through appropriate means of communication and education, in order to integrate the importance of nature conservation in development and respect for human rights;

Consolidation of the association through the reinforcing of its own capacity to manage and develop projects.

As Doctor Claudio Prieto, founder of Guyra Paraguay said: “Being part of the Council of Guyra Paraguay is a responsibility which allows us to be willing champions in the defence of the biodiversity of our own country”.

Identity Card: Guyra Paraguay

Date of birth – 1997

General Director – Alberto Yanosky

Members – 300

Number of Important Bird Areas (IBA) – 57

Number of species globally threatened – 27

Website – www.guyra.org.py

BIRDWATCHING IN SPRING

See the map below this feature

Spring is here and, as nature reawakens, Italy is replenished with thousands of birds. The period from March to May is probably the best time of year in Italy to see birds. It is at this time that an extraordinary number of species, both rare and common, “African” and “northern” cross the country in large numbers. The earliest arrivals are the waterfowl: Garganey, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff (from the end of February), at times in mixed groups with resident species or late winter visitors, especially in the wet zones and in the north. At the small Tyrrhenian islands from March on, the migration of passeriformes and the first raptors, such as Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite and Marsh Harrier can be seen. House Martins also arrive in March but the mass arrival of trans-Saharan migrants such as Swallows, Sand Martins and Sylvia warblers (Whitethroat, Subalpine and Moltoni’s) and flycatchers (pied and collared) do not arrive until April and May. The herons also arrive in March with the Purple Heron, Night Heron and Squacco Heron. The reed beds erupt with the frantic sound of the Reed Warbler, the Sedge Warbler and the Great Reed Warbler, while the woods sound with the constant low whistle of the Scops Owl and the monotonous purr of the Turtle Dove. And then there are, the ever rarer, shrikes, particularly the Woodchat.

May brings the extraordinary migration of the Honey Buzzard, especially in Sicily and across the Straits of Messina, from where tens of thousands of individuals fly the length of the peninsula to migrate north-north-east. Other passerines arrive: Garden Warblers, Spotted Flycatchers and the Icterine Warbler, which migrates through Italy, while the similar Melodious Warbler, prefers to cross Spain before nesting in Italy.

All this is reason enough to grab our binoculars and to go out in search of Italy’s spectacular variety of birds. This first part is dedicated to bird watching in spring and here we describe 12 wonderful places where hours can be spent watching the birds during the spring migration.

1. Conero Regional Nature Reserve

The Regional reserve of mount Conero, in the Marche, is a long calcareous coast bordering the Adriatic, characterised by beaches, rocky outcrops, wetlands and woodland. The Park covers an area of 5,800 hectares, including four municipalities in the province of Ancona.

In spring, numerous species stop in the Park on migration, particularly raptors, with honey buzzards and marsh harriers in their thousands. Several rare species can also be seen, such as the Levant Sparrowhawk, the Greater Spotted Eagle and other large birds, such as both the storks and Cranes. The Peregrine Falcon and the Blue Rock Thrush nest in the cliffs. Over 200 species have been recorded in this area.

How to get there: Leave the A14 motorway at Ancona Sud in the direction of Poggio di Ancona, (c 10-15 km), from where it is possible to observe migrating raptors.

2. The Straits of Messina (Sicilian side)

The Straits of Messina form the most important bottle-neck in Italy for the migration of thousands of diurnal raptors that cross the Mediterranean in spring, on route from Africa to breeding grounds in northern Europe. The area offers an incomparable chance to observe high concentrations of species, including the rare Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Egyptian Vulture.

The first Black Kites arrive in early March but the greatest concentrations of birds arrive in May, with tens of thousands of Honey Buzzards, thousands of Bee-eaters, Purple Herons, Spoonbills and many passerines.

To reach the observation points take the via Palermo (SS113) or the Viale Giostra (SP51) from the centre of Messina to the Monti Peloritani: Portella Castanea, Monte Ciccia and Santa Rosalia.

3. The Po Delta, Ravenna

Though once home to far wider expanses of marshland, the area around Ravenna still offers valuable salt lagoons, woodland and marshes. From the north of the town of Ravenna, it extends to the Park of the Po Delta in Emilia-Romagna between the provinces of Ravenna and Ferrara.

At Punte Alberete-Valle Mandriole it is possible to see Purple, Squacco and Night Herons as well as Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Pygmy Cormorant and Ferruginous Duck (in the pools). The Pialasse and the Cervia salt marshes are home to various waders; Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Ruff. Great Spotted Woodpeckers, nocturnal raptors and numerous resident passerines (Short-toed Treecreeper, Nuthatch) and some migratory species (Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Robin, Blackcap, Song Thrush) can be found in the San Vitale pine forest. Ravenna can be reached from the A14 motorway. Take the SS309 Romea for the northern observation areas or the SS16 Adriatica for the Cervia salt marshes.

4. Capo d’Otranto and the Alimini Lakes

The Adriatic coastline is rich in marshland and coastal lakes such as the Alimini lakes and the Capo d’Otranto, an extraordinary area of natural beauty that offers the chance, in spring, to observe diurnal raptors and many other species.

In early March adult male Pallid and Marsh Harriers arrive just before the numerous other spring visitors: Montagu’s Harrier, Crane, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, the rare Long-legged Buzzard and both the Black and White Storks. Red-rumped Swallows, Whinchat and Black-eared Wheatear and the various sub-species of the Yellow Wagtail are particularly common. The Alimini lakes abound in waterfowl with waders (Grey Plover, Little Stint, Kentish Plover and Ringed Plover) along the banks, and the surrounding pine forests are home to Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest and the occasional Crossbill.

Capo d’Otranto can be reached by road 173 in the direction of Santa Cesarea Terme and the Alimini lakes from Brindisi on the SS 611.

5. The LIPU Torrile Reserve

Where once fields of maize and sugar beet surrounded a sugar refinery, now a mosaic of wetland habitats has been designated for birds: The LIPU Torrile, reserve now known as the “Torrile e Trecasali” was instituted in 2010 by the Region of Emilia Romagna.

Over 270 species have been recorded on the reserve, amongst which the Black-winged Stilt and the Lapwing. Other waders (Golden and Grey Plovers, Ruff, Snipe, Curlew) can be seen in spring before they leave for breeding grounds in northern Europe. Hundreds of pairs of herons gather in the heronry (Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Night Heron). The elusive Bittern and Little Bittern can occasionally be seen lurking in the reed beds.

From Parma take the SP343 Asolana in the direction of Colorno. At San Polo di Torrile turn left and follow the signs to the reserve, which is open to the public on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays
(09-1300 and 1430-1800) from March to November. The reserve is closed when there is snow and ice.

6. The Oristano Wetlands

The Oristano wetlands are one of the most important areas in Sardinia for waterfowl. The area includes sea water channels, salt and freshwater marshes, lagoons, seasonal marshes and rock pools.

The Mistras is home to the Osprey, while Purple and Grey Herons and egrets abound on the S’Ena Arrubbia, alongside the Ferruginous Duck and the Purple Gallinule.

Red-crested Pochards and Cormorants are common on the Cabras lake. Lesser Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons and Blue Rock Thrushes breed on the cliff faces.

Thousands of Flamingos come to Sale Porcus, every year, to feed on the brine shrimp, a crustacean that constitutes the basis of their diet. Other birds include the Common and Little Terns, herons, Slender-billed Gull and Black-winged Stilt and the more uncommon Crane and Greylag Goose.

Sale Porcus can be reached from the 292 to the north of Oristano, the Cabras lake is on the road between Cabras and Riola Sardo. S’Ena Arrubbia is on the south-bound road, Arborea.

7. The LIPU Brabbia Nature Reserve

In the province of Varese, between the lakes of Comabbio and Varese, a spectacular succession of reed beds and pools surrounds one of the most important wetlands in north Italy: the LIPU Brabbia nature reserve, an important place for more than 200 species of migratory birds.

Spring sees the arrival of numerous raptors such as the Marsh Harrier, Honey Buzzard and the occasional Short-toed Eagle and Red Kite. The queen of the reserve is the Ferruginous Duck and Teal and Garganey can also be seen. Purple Herons and Little Bitterns can be seen in the reed beds. April and May see the arrival of the Reed, Great Reed, Cetti’s and Marsh Warblers as well as the exotic Vinous-throated Parrotbill, an introduced species from China.
The visitors’ centre is in Inarzo, in the province of Varese. Leave the A8 motorway at Buguggiate/Azzate and follow directions for Bodio Lomnago and Inarzo.

8. Capraia

The island of Capraia, part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago lies about 50 km off the coast of mainland Italy and is characterised by kilometres of steep, rugged cliffs of volcanic rock.

In spring the island becomes a crossroads for trans-Saharan migrants such as Woodchat and Red-backed Shrike, Pied and Collared Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Whitethroat and Moltoni’s Warbler, Bee-eater and other rare species such as the Aquatic Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Rufous Bushchat. Herons, waders and rails can be seen at the Vado del Porto and along the rocky coast. Osprey, Hobby, harriers, Roller and Red-throated Pipit are also found in the area.

The island can be reached by ferry in three hours from the port of Livorno. Several paths wind their way up from the town towards Monte Arpagna and the Stagnone, the island’s only fresh water lake. Cooperativa Parco Naturale Isola di Capraia, Capraia Isola (LI), tel 0586-905071.

9. Ventotene

The island of Ventotene (in the Ponziano Archipelago), now a natural reserve for the protection of marine life, is characterised by Mediterranean maquis and shrub land. Today it is considered an important resting place in spring for, often exhausted, migratory birds that having crossed the Mediterranean later make their way to the northern Europe.

Migration begins in February and continues until the end of May: Quail, herons (Purple Heron, Little Bittern, egrets) and numerous passeriformes (Swallow, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Pied Flycatcher and many others such as the rare Rosefinch, Lesser Grey Shrike and Rüppell’s Warbler), and other uncommon species such as Black Stork, Short-eared Owl and Stone Curlew.

Leave the A1 Rome-Naples motorway at Cassino and take the SS630 to the port of Formia (province of Latina). There is a ferry to Ventotene.

website: www.riservaventotene.it; Tel. visitors centre: 0771/85257

10. Chiarore Nature Reserve – Massaciuccoli

The Chiarore nature reserve, run by the LIPU in Massaciuccoli, covers an area of 47 hectares in the Migliarino Regional Park, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli, and includes many of the most characteristic lake environments.
The area is of great ornithological importance in spring, particularly for several species of duck on migration to northern Europe (Teal, Shoveler, Garganey), as well as waders such as Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff and Black-winged Stilt. Black, Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns also stop in the area.

Leave the A12 motorway Genova-Livorno at Pisa Nord. Take the Aurelia road and after 10 metres, turn right into via Traversagna. Follow signs for Massaciuccoli and the Riserva Naturale. (7 km).
Visitors centre and Nature Museum - Via del Porto 6 – loc. Massaciuccoli (LU)
Tel. 0584 975567 – e-mail: oasi.massaciuccoli@lipu.it

11. Capri

Capri, in the gulf of Naples, is covered by Mediterranean maquis and high rolling hills with a rugged coastline.

Like many of the Tyrrhenian islands it is an important migratory point, in spring, for many species returning from Africa to the Palearctic, with many passeriformes (Golden Oriole, Subalpine and Moltoni’s Warblers, Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Black-eared and Northern Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, Ortolan Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler) and raptors: Montagu’s Harrier, Honey Buzzard, Hobby, Red- footed Falcon and in late May, Eleonora’s Falcon.

Ferries for the island leave from Naples, Sorrento and Castellamare di Stabia. The ornithological centre in Capri is in Villa San Michele, Viale Axel Munthe 34, in Anacapri. Tel: 081-8371401.

12. The Gulf of Manfredonia

Between the promontory of the Gargano and the Ofanto estuary in Puglia, lies the Gulf of Manfredonia, a large, 60 km long coastal inlet, characterised by a succession of wetlands, flooded pastures, lagoons and saltmarshes, some of which make up the National Park of the Gargano.
Beyond the Frattarolo marsh (flooded by the Candelaro river), which can be reached from the road, lies the vast reed bed of Lake Salso, fed by the river Cervaro. Further south the most important site is the saltmarsh of Margherita di Savoia.

During spring migration thousands of Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff can be seen between the Frattarolo marsh and Lake Salso but the area is particularly important for the hundreds of Glossy Ibis, Crane, White Stork and Red-footed Falcon that arrive in late April and early May. Flamingos and Italy’s highest concentration of Avocets create a wonderful spectacle in the saltmarshes.

The SP141 (ex SS159) linking Manfredonia to Margherita di Savoia cuts across the area offering the possibility for birdwatching in the various zones.

NEWS FROM LIPU-UK

LIPU-UK Annual Prize Draw

Each year we hold our annual prize draw and it is going from strength to strength. However, if you don’t like draws and would rather not receive tickets please tell me as I won’t send tickets to those who have said they don’t want them - this will save you annoyance and me printing costs.

For those who do take part, you might be surprised to compare your chances with those of similar draws held by larger organisations. Our prizes have been simplified and seem to be very popular; the first prize is a cheque for £500 and there are two more of £200 and £100. Last year, 230 people bought tickets - so that must offer a pretty good chance of winning!

The draw is also a steady source of income and showed a “profit” of about £2,400 so to all those who bought tickets in the past and to those who will buy tickets in the coming year, a heartfelt thank you.

The winners of the 2011 draw are:

Mr A Robertshaw of Leeds £500
Mrs C Glover of Sussex £200
Mrs G Moon of Gwent £100

LIPU-UK ANNUAL APPEAL

Despite the financial problems affecting us all, we succeeded in funding those projects we had agreed upon, but it was only possible by using a part of the reserves. This year we have reduced our target, but it is still going to be a real challenge. However, our only purpose is to help LIPU in its essential work in Italy and to do that we have agreed to appeal for support for the following projects in the year ahead:

Migration of raptors through Sicily – year 9 of 10. This survey dovetails with the anti-poaching camp.

Anti-poaching – the work goes on in Brescia, on the Messina Strait and in Sardinia.

Supplies for Raptor Recovery centres – the provision of drugs, dressings etc for the places that need it.

The Marine IBA project – year 4. Government cuts mean the funding has dried up, so we will step in to help.

We need to raise €46,500 in order to fund this work fully and I hope you will agree that all the causes are worthwhile and worthy of your support. Last year, you, our friends and members, responded magnificently and raised a total of over £25,000 I hope you will be able to repeat this splendid level of support. As well as these donations from members and friends, we are grateful for the valuable support we receive from trusts and grant-making bodies.

I am pleased to be able to thank the following for their generosity:

The A S Butler Trust gave £150, the Clare Lees Trust and the G W Trust each sent £300, the Shirley Pugh Trust donated £150, the Peter Smith Trust for Nature Conservation gave us £1000, The Udimore Trust £50 and the Valerie White Memorial Trust donated £250.

Bird clubs and groups were represented by the Gwent Ornithological Society who donated £50, the RSPB Highland Group £100, Wakefield Naturalists Society gave us £10 and the Worcestershire Conservation Volunteers made a donation of £60 – sincere thanks to them all.

Finally, I am grateful that, for another year, AISPA, the Anglo-Italian Society for the Protection of Animals, continued its valuable support. AISPA played a hugely important part in the founding of LIPU, and by supporting LIPU-UK over the years a special bond exists between our organisations – my sincere thanks.

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My thanks go to the translators of this issue who have done such a good job as usual: Cicely Adelson, Barbara Avery, Joanna Bazen, Daria Dadam, Tony Harris, Peter Rafferty and John Walder. Line drawines are by courtesy of the RSPB and photographs are © the credited photographers.

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