Po Delta Pygmies

In Italy the word birdwatching was actually unknown before the eighties. Thanks to the Lipu (Birdlife Italy) before and Ebn (Italian Birding Association) then, now the birdwatching has spread even if Italy is the western country with less practitioners. However the extraordinary biodiversity of this Mediterranean country has deserved the establishment of many protected areas and national parks, even if there are still problems of poaching and sometimes the country is especially known for this last issue.

The first participation in absolute terms of an Italian team in an international competition wants however to represent the desire to be this time an active part in a large conservation project as the one the friends of Champions of the Flyway are realizing to give a hand to Doğa Derneği to stop the illegal killing of birds in Turkey! In addition the team also wants to be the ambassador of the protected area of the Po Delta, that, the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in June 2015, because of the richness of stunning landscapes, architecture and urban settlements.

The Po Delta biosphere reserve is located in northern Italy and comprises 139,398 hectares, covering 16 municipalities and with 120,000 inhabitants. The area is a plain produced by the Po River’s action and recent human activities and is the only delta in Italy. The site includes the confluence of river branches, coastal dune systems and sand formations, lagoons, fishing ponds, marshes, fossil dunes, canals and coastal pine forests, vast brackish wetlands and cultivated lands dominated by rice farming. These landscapes provide an exceptional heritage of biodiversity due to their range of habitats. Tourism is one of the main economic activities of the local communities, along with agriculture and fish farming. Sustainable tourism could be promoted.

Environmental and cultural education aimed at the general public is an important activity of the biosphere reserve. We have adopted the Pygmy Cormorant as a symbol since this species have been nesting regularly in the Po Delta since 1994 and later the breeding population has risen sharply. In 2004 more than 600 pairs were reported there and at present there are more than 1000 breeding pairs. During recent winters, 2500-3000 individuals have been counted at Po Delta and Venice lagoon, whit a maximum of 5200 counted last winter in the Po Delta alone. The Pygmy Cormorant represents a success of policies for limitation of hunting and poaching activities besides protection of nesting habitats carried out during last decades after the institution of the protected area.

We hope that what is happening in Italy and in the Po Delta may be a good omen for facilitating the improvement of the situation in Turkey too. For this reason we invite our Italian friends and all the visitors to this page to make a donation by clicking on the button in the top right !

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Meet the Team

Gianfranco Colombo

Gianfranco Colombo

Gianfranco is a tenacious traveler having visited in more than fifty years the remotest parts of each Continents in search of birds and butterflies. Africa and Asia has been the main destinations with more than 70 trips looking for endemisms and rarities but even Antarctica, Austronesia, Amazonas and in particular the forest of French Guyana, where he spent more than five months during last five years. He observed and studied birds and nature since the sixties, implementing and appreciating knowledge and experience besides new findings in all over the world. He is also a private nature photographer with a photo archive of more than 250.000 pictures taken anywhere. He cooperates with an international Encyclopedia and a Natural History Museum for which he writes articles both on birds and butterflies. Talking about his private life, he uses to say that he spent much more time on the field than in his own office.

Luca Boscain

Luca, birder since childhood, is now a thirty years old full-round naturalist who loves most of life beings from butterflies, to lizards and orchids. The other main fascination is travel all around the world, with the possibility to observe always something new and interesting. During an innumerable number of trips he observed almost 500 species of birds in the Western Palearctic, but surely he will be able to add something to his list during the “Champions of Flyway” 2017! In Italy he is a veteran of birding competition and, during a lot of attendance to the national “24-hours of birdwatching” carried out by EBN (Italian Birding Association), he won the spring edition of 2008 with the team “Osei scampai” (150 species of birds observed) and the autumn provincial edition in 2007 and 2009 with the team “Fiorrancini braghecorte” (104 species all in Venice area both the times).

Luca Boscain

Menotti Passarella

Menotti Passarella

Menotti was the first member of Lipu (Birdlife Italy) of the whole Po river Delta, a bird paradise in NE Italy, in the mid-eighties, when his native area was unprotected. Now the Delta is a Biosphere Reserve, where more than 380 species of birds have been recorded, that means the 75% of the whole Italian avifauna, and Menotti is an avid birder who loves to share his knowledge with anyone and everyone. He has led birding and nature-study trips throughout the Po Delta and the Lagoon of Venice for many individuals and groups. His 30+ years (20 of those years spent leading professionally) of intensive birding in the Po Delta has provided him with intimate knowledge of the places where birds gather, nest, feed and hide. He is also knowledgeable of the area’s fauna and flora and current environmental issues, since he is a licensed Nature Guide and a member of Aigae, the national associations of the Ecotour Guides. Menotti enthusiasm for birding is contagious and makes for exciting and fun days in the field. Menotti has acquired a great experience on the birds of NE Italy, discovering new breeding species and numerous rarities. He wrote more than 50 publications and is author of the Check-list of the birds of the Po Delta and member of the C.O.I. (Italian Ornithological Commission – Bird Rarity Commitee). Menotti won in 2015 the national Big Year and racked up 354 species, new Italian record. Thanks to this, he is now third among the top listing birders in Italy with 397 species.