• Eurasian Spoonbill

Spring around the Po Delta, Italy

Slender-billed Gulls & Pygmy Cormorants. Plus urban birding & culture in historic Ravenna & Comacchio

  • Duration

    20 April 2018 to 24 April 2018

  • Location

    Italy

  • Led by

    Sacha Barbato

  • Group size

    up to 6 participants

  • Price

    £1,200 per person plus flights

  • Single supplement

    No single supplement

  • Deposit

    £240 per person

  • Remaining balance due

    60 days before travel start date

Free loan of Leica Ultravid binoculars is available for the duration of the tour – subject to availability.

Please ask for details.

About the Po Delta and environs

The magical Po Delta National Park links the cities of Ravenna and Comacchio within the Emilia-Romagna region in the northeastern corner of Italy. The region is a popular venue for holidaymakers during the summer months largely due to the miles of beaches lapped by the waves of the Adriatic Sea. Ravenna was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire and is steeped in art and history. Comacchio on the other hand, with its abundant bridges and canals, is a mini Venice that is also not without a rich history.

The Po Delta National Park is a wetland expanse covering 54,000 hectares of which parts have been declared a Site of Community Importance and a Special Protection Area in Italy. Comacchio is ideally situated on a lagoon – on the doorstep of the Po Delta. The delta is the country’s biggest wetland and it is also one of the largest in Europe.

The Po, Italy’s longest river, flows through the area along with the River Adige, eventually draining out into the Adriatic Sea. The rivers bring in thousands of tons of nutrient rich silt to the estuary that attracts multitudes of fish that in turn brings in the birds. It used to cover a far larger expanse but as expected, man has heavily influenced the landscape with much of it being reclaimed for farming. Despite this, the Po Delta still consists of coastal dunes, salt pans, decent marshland habitat such as the Comacchio and Bertuzzi Marshes, pine forests and other wooded areas, some flooded, including Oasi di Punte Alberete near Ravenna. Some of the open water has been given over to outdoor pursuits like boating and fishing but the area is still a complete hotbed for birds. Over 300 species have occurred here and Italian birders from all over visit to marvel at the abundant birdlife.

The local currency is the Euro.

Tour overview

Despite being in a touristy area the region is relatively overlooked when you compare it to Venice c200km further north. It is certainly overlooked by many birders. Furthermore, when this trip runs is a quieter time of year before the mad summer rush.

All our birding and cultural excursions will be made from our luxurious base the Terme Beach Resort, Punta Marina in a comfortable minibus. Set on the beach this hotel serves breakfast made from local produce – and never frozen or pre-prepared. Dinner is served at its adjoining sea-fronted Marlin Restaurant where they prepare fresh fish that is delivered daily from the fishing boats at the port. The Terme Beach Resort also has a 7km stretch of the Delta del Po’s pine forest right outside its front door. This woodland holds a variety of species including early singing Blackcap and Nightingale and on the hotel veranda Italy’s only endemic bird species can be easily found – the Italian Sparrow!

Terme Beach Resort

Expected birds

It will be early spring at the time of this tour so many summer visitors and migrants will be just arriving. Expected birds will include:

  • Italian Sparrow
  • Little Gull
  • Little Tern
  • Mediterranean Gull
  • Montagu’s Harrier
  • Nightingale
  • Pied Avocet
  • Purple Heron
  • Pygmy Cormorant
  • Ruff
  • Serin
  • Slender-billed Gull
  • Squacco Heron
  • Turtle Dove
  • Whiskered Tern
  • Wood Sandpiper
  • Yellow-legged Gull
  • Yellow Wagtail “cinereocapilla”
  • Zitting Cisticola

plus scarcities and rarities

  • Black-necked Grebe
  • Black Tern
  • Black-crowned Night Heron
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Caspian Tern
  • Cattle Egret
  • Cetti’s Warbler
  • Eurasian Spoonbill
  • European Bee-eater
  • Ferruginous Duck
  • Garganey
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Golden Oriole
  • Great Reed Warbler
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Hobby, Peregrine
  • Honey Buzzard
  • Hoopoe

Itinerary

April 20 – Afternoon arrival at Bologna Airport

After settling in at the Terme Beach Resort we will take a brief walk around the vicinity of the hotel taking in the nearby 7km strip of coastal pine forest. We will look for early spring migrants including Hobby, Common Redstart, Nightingale, warblers and we will watch for Italian Sparrows by the hotel.

Overnight stay and dinner at Terme Beach Resort.

April 21 – Ravenna and then the Po Delta

After breakfast we will visit Ravenna, a short 30 minutes drive, for a cultural morning. We will enlist the guidance from a local historical for an hour to learn about the Roman and Byzantine history in the city before enjoying lunch.

Thereafter, we will delve into the Po Delta itself looking for migrants whilst enjoying Pygmy Cormorants, Slender-billed Gulls and the waders.

Overnight stay and dinner at Terme Beach Resort.

April 22 – All day exploring the Po Delta

After breakfast, we will spend the whole day exploring the marshes, wet woodlands and wetlands in the Po Delta. Our target species will include more Pygmy Cormorant, Slender-billed Gull, marsh terns, waders, Yellow Wagtail, Montagu’s Harrier and migrants. We will take a packed lunch into the field.

Last year, we were fortunate to discover a locally rare White-winged Black Tern ranging with Black Terns in one of the numerous water channels that crisscross the general area.

Overnight stay and dinner at Terme Beach Resort.

April 23 – Po Delta and Comacchio

After breakfast we will again spend the morning exploring the Delta seeing more of the birds that we would have watched on the previous days plus, being ever watchful for newly arrived migrants.

We will lunch in the pretty town of Comacchio that is filled with canals and bridges plus Kestrels and hirundines.

After lunch we will spend our last afternoon in the Po Delta.

Overnight stay and dinner at Terme Beach Resort.

April 24 – back to Bologna and departure

After breakfast, we will indulge in a little local birding around the hotel before we transfer back to Bologna.

Special trip notes

This tour is suitable for all ages and abilities.

There will not be much walking involved and no uphill treks.

Study walking shoes should suffice however, waterproof boots would be a good call especially if there is rain and we are walking on boggy ground.

The weather at this time of year should be mild. However, please pack waterproof attire and a sweater in case the weather changes.

Recommended field guide

Collins Bird Guide – Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterström

Book now

  • £1,200 per person excludes flights
  • Group size: up to 6 participants
  • Single supplement: No single supplement
  • Deposit: £240 per person
  • Remaining balance due 60 days before travel start date
  • Please contact us if you have any other queries

    Email: tours@theurbanbirderworld.com
    Tel: +44 7507 470 409

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Price includes

  • Full board accommodation
  • All meals (apart from the lunches in Ravenna and Comacchio)
  • Entrance fees to reserves and national parks
  • The services of an Italian speaking TUB Tour guide
  • The optional loan of a pair of sexy Leica binoculars for the duration of the tour – subject to availability.

Price does not include

  • Airline tickets and airport taxes
  • Incidental refreshments at cafes and bars
  • Items of a personal nature
  • All alcoholic beverages – unless specified
  • Personal travel insurance