Tag Archives: bird-watching

If you’re looking for birds….

..then head to Vendicari Nature Reserve, preferably in the winter months. Obviously, I am talking about the winged variety here and you don’t have to be an avid bird watcher to get excited about seeing herons, cormorants, spoonbills and flamingos. If you are like me, you will come away not knowing half of the birds that you have seen but feeling that you have seen something special and watching the starlings swarm through the sky as the sun sets adds to the experience. IMG_0645

We headed there one glorious afternoon in December. As we hadn’t yet been to Marianelli beach we decided to park there and walk along the coast to the bird observation points. It was 17c so we had hoped to have a winter dip in the ocean but it was a little too rough to do that, plus there was a little too much seaweed in the water at Calamosche. Instead, we searched among the driftwood and enjoyed the sound of the sea battering against the shore. DSC_0240

We arrived at the first bird hide as the sun was starting to set but because I was able to see some flamingos in the distance we carried on walking to the next bird observation point despite the setting sun. We were not disappointed. As light faded, cormorants and starlings flew above our heads. We saw countless herons of many types, spoonbills, hundreds of cormorants and flamingos. We marvelled at the number of birds including those we knew nothing of, completely forgetting that we had a fair distance to cover to get back to the car. Eventually, we pulled ourselves away and started to walk back. Pink Flamingos in Vendicari 031

It was then that we realised just how low the sun had sunk and how little time we had to get back to the car. So we marched as fast as we could back, with each step it became darker until the dusk had turned into night and we were half way back and in complete darkness. The bright moon of previous nights had yet to make an appearance. The path was rocky with plant roots ready to trip you up at any moment. I used the light of my phone to find our way. Every now and then we would hear the sound of some small mammal or reptile in the bushes which together with the sea bashing against the rocks added to the spookiness and fueled my ever vivid imagination. The hardest part was locating the entrance to the path from the beach but we eventually made it in record time for we had not once dropped our fast pace.DSC_0329 (2)

Next time, we’ll go back in the morning when we will have a full day of sunlight and more time to appreciate the birds that migrate there and perhaps, without the low light we will be able to take better photos.

Riserva Naturale Orientata Oasi Faunistica di Vendicari

Vendicari is a nature reserve in the South East of Sicily, near to Noto and Siracusa, which was created in 1984 and is well looked after, although tread carefully on the wooden walkways as the wooden planks can sometimes be a little loose or rotting away. The reserve is tranquil and a nature lovers delight. It offers many activities throughout the year and so attracts many visitors, especially in the summer months when the majority of people go there for the beaches. Although, beware the summer months as you have to walk a wee while to get to them and there is little shade once you are there. At Calamosche, my favourite beach in the reserve, the water is so clear that you can see the fish swimming around your ankles. Set in a cove it is a great place to soak up the sun then cool off with a swim or you can take a gentle stroll out in the sea as it is relatively shallow for quite some distance.
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If you are more of an active person and want to do more than merely sunbathe then there is a nice coastal path that will take you from one end of the reserve to the other.Trails in VendicariThis path takes you past archaeological sites; old salt pans which now act as an important wetland site for a variety of birds including flamingos and the common spoonbill; and an old tuna processing factory. There are a number of bird observation points along the way, although you are more likely to see flamingos in the autumn months.Torre SvevaBird Observation CabinCoastal pathThe nature reserve is open all year round; go outside of the popular summer months and it is possible that you will have the reserve to yourself. In spring there are an abundance of wild flowers, herbs and sand-loving plants including wild orchids, poppies, thyme, juniper and rosemary.Wild OrchidMediterranean vegetation