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Nesting, passing through and returning.


From 1906 to date 200 bird species have been registered in the Park and adjacent area. Of these 49% (98 species) are regular breeders, 20% are migratory, whilst 26% of species are defined as accidentals, noted less than five times from 1983 to 2011

What makes the Gesso Valley a special place for birdlife is the extreme vicinity of Mediterranean environments and Alpine environments. Between these two extremes, the succession of habitats is very fast, as we pass from 800m to sea level in only 18km, with the sub-Mediterranean scrub of the Riserva di Rocca San Giovanni-Saben, to the 3000m of Gelas. In one day, with a bit of dedication, you could see birds at each end of the Italian climatic scale, such as the tiny Sardinian warbler with its black cap and the snow partridge with its feathered feet.

The variety of birds present in the different seasons is quite remarkable, due to the wide variety of environments in the Maritime Alps. Here, species that prefer different habitats find their home; in broadleaf woodland (goshawk, great spotted woodpecker), conifers (black woodpecker, Tengmalm's owl, nutcracker), bushes and shrubs (lesser whitethroat, common redpoll), high alpine meadows (wheatear, whinchat, snowfinch), and on rocks (wallcreeper, alpine chough). Lower in the valleys there are plenty of places where the human mark on the landscape is evident, such as villages and farmland, and these create further biological diversity.

In these more urban settings we find for example Scops owl and nightjars. Naturally, the maximum diversity of species is seen in the migratory periods, from March to May and August to October. This is when you can see species that normally live in very different environments from those found in the Park, when they stop to rest and refuel: take waders for example (green sandpiper), or rails (moor hen, water rail), raptors (booted eagle, marsh harrier) and storks.

Focus on: The Golden Eagle

Queen of the skies

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one of the largest European raptors. There is a healthy population in the Park as we have 10 couples. The distribution is now close to saturation, as we believe ...

Focus on: The bearded vulture

King and cleaner

Bearded vultures became extinct in the Alps early in the twentieth century. We can see them in the skies over the Maritime Alps again now, thanks to a European reintroduction programme.

Alpine Galliformes

Species perfectly adapted to the alpine environment

All three species of alpine Galliformes live in the Park: the snow partridge , the black grouse or blackgame and rock partridge.

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