There’s Life on the Salt

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Two weeks ago we took part in a guided visit to the Cervia Salt Pans. The tour began with a short trip by an electric boat on the canal, then we walked along the bank of one of the ponds, stopping from time to time behind hides. From there, with the help of binoculars provided by the visitor centre, we were able to watch a multitude of  seabirds and waders: black-headed and yellow-legged gull, tern, cormorant, black-winged stilt, avocet, little egret, flamingo and even the rare kentish plover, a small wader difficult to spot, part because of its light brown colour which make it blend into the sand.

Kentish plover

Many of these birds were brooding. Personally, I would have stayed longer in that beautiful oasis, but being it a nature reserve, the only possible way to get close to it is through a guided visit. However, during our first approach to the area we gathered information on birdwatching points in allowed places, and also on the offer of various activities you can do here and in the rest of the Po Delta Park, including canoe hire and cycle paths.

After the salt pan tour we drove as close as possible to the estuary of the Bevano river, and stopping along a field we spotted a dozen bee-eaters sitting on a wire, busy hunting insects. We were amazed at their plumage, we didn’t think we could see such brightly coloured birds round where we live. There is something exotic about them, and this slightly backlit photo doesn’t show the colours properly. There is something mysterious in their looks as well: from the shape of the beak and the black strip across the eye, it almost looks like they’re wearing a disturbing medieval mask.

Bee-eaters

Near the Bevanella visitor centre we were “verbally attacked” by a bunch of hysterical birds that cried all together without stopping, giving a number of different calls, screechy and loud.  We then discovered that all sounds came from the beak of only one bird, a great reed warbler. Unfortunately we didn’t endure much listening to its gibberish: mosquitoes were really aggressive and wouldn’t let us be. We didn’t see any an the salt pans, though.

Shut up! The great reed warbler is speaking.

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