November 28 2013
BIRDWATCHING NEAR TAORMINA
The Strait of Messina , the narrow channel separating mainland southern Italy from Sicily (satellite photo on the right), is surely one of the most important European migration flyways for both raptors and storks as well as many other species, and is one of the most rewarding birding areas in Europe.
In spring the magnificient spectacle of the migration of birds of prey is impressive. Thousands of buzzards, harrier hawks, kites, eagles and falconets fly in enormous flocks high in the sky, on the timeless route that will lead them to their breeding grounds in Northern Europe.
Capo Peloro, at the north-eastern tip of Sicily, 1 hour from Taormina, is an excellent site for seawatching and during strong southerly winds is a productive migration watch point as well.
Another birdwatching point of interest in the same area is the breathtaking Colle San Rizzo, high above the Strait of Messina: from the top of this peak, one can see most of the north-easternmost part of the island, between two seas, the Tyrrhenian to the west and the Ioanian to the east. In the far distance on the Tyrrhenian Sea are the Eolian Islands while to the south the view is dominated by the largest and most beautiful European volcano, Mt. Etna. Underneath you have woodlands and cliffs descending steeply to sea.
Against this spectacular backdrop, migrating raptors can be seen soaring down the valley below you, or gliding against the snow-capped Mount Etna.
The Birds: Marsh Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Temminck's Stint, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Caspian and Slender-billed Gulls, ducks. Peregrine of the race calidus, and Common Buzzard of the racevulpinus ("Steppe Buzzard"). Crested Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhyncus. Black-shouldered Kite, Levant Sparrowhawk, Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Spotted Eagle, Barbary Falcon, Black Vulture, Lammergeier and Amur Falcon. Honey Buzzard, Eleonora's Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier and Pallid Harrier. Kestrel, Hobby and Marsh Harrier, Lanner Falcon.
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