Flamingoday 2019, a census of the avian patrimony in the gulf of Oristano

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Some of the observers meet in front of "Scaiu", the small pier where the white boats with which the fishermen of Cabras cross the lagoon are moored. Information is exchanged about the last precious meetings, binoculars and registration sheets are distributed. For flamingos and ospreys, number, sighting time, possible recognition rings and flight direction have to be indicated. The company separates taking the routes for Mistras, Pauli Maiori, Sal'e Porcus, Curru Mannu, Istai, Mar'e Pauli, San Giovanni and S’Ena Arrubia. Others are already waiting in position, more teams at different points will keep all the ponds of the Gulf of Oristano under survey.

In San Giovanni the southern cold wind blows incessantly, flattening the clouds in dozens of white hosts spread in the clear sky. From the edge of the road, descend in succession a bare vineyard and a thistle field. Then commence the pond, agitated like rippled metal. Capo Frasca, Monte Arcosu, Marceddì, Terralba, S'Ena Arrubia, Santa Giusta, the mouth of the river Tirso, Torregrande, the ponds of Cabras and Mistras appear in detail or hide in the long line of the gulf. There are about 250 flamingos, still, pink spots in the circle of the lenses. "Unfortunately we didn't see any osprey. Usually they were there, on the roosts. But we crossed so many other species like little egrets, gray herons and tern sandwiches", explains Maria Pala, environmental consultant of the MEDSEA Foundation, which has been involved in the census together with the Italian Naturalist Photographer Association (AFNI), Legambiente and Anthus.

At the "FenyDay", the national census of flamingos organized for December 1 by EBN Italy, the LIPU (Italian Bird Protection League) of Oristano decided to add that of the osprey. “It is essential for the project to participate in activities like this one. Not only the elements with which we compose the scientific mosaic of Maristanis increase - adds Giorgio Massaro, another MEDSEA expert involved in the count - but they allow us to get in touch with all the other protagonists of the territory. Through the exchange of information we go beyond the data. New ideas are born, and new perspectives".

After the agreed observation lapse, the MEDSEA team moves to the Mistras pond. Here the osprey is present. Quiet on the perch next to a gull, or in flight, or in the photos of Alberto Cherchi: the eye focused on the water below and the wings flexed in an imperious stasis, before the dive; the beak opened wide in a shrill verse of accusation and the claws well planted on a trunk that bears the sign "private property"; just landed on the small wooden circle, among the claws a mullet, on the trunk "no hunting". "Today we are lucky, with the southern wind they offer us a close-up. If the mistral blows they show us their back" explains Cherchi, amused.

"It was an incredible day. In S’Ena Arrubia, in addition to 6 ospreys and 850 flamingos, we saw marsh harriers, little grebes, mallards, red and gray herons. But above all 36 very rare glossy ibis. In 2015 there were 6 out of 10 present throughout the national territory. It means that our small pond today is home to around 80% of Italian specimens" explains the following day Paolo Pinos, until a few months ago LIPU delegate for the province of Oristano. "Censuses are very important also as a descriptive system of the territories. The multitude of species that seasonally choose the Gulf of Oristano shows that the ecosystem of our land is productive, that our wetlands are alive and must be preserved".

The overall census data leave no doubt. According to Gabriele Pinna, ornithologist and LIPU delegate, there are over 5000 flamingos and 20 ospreys in the waters of Maristanis. "With the help of twenty volunteers and the Sinis-Isola di Mal di Ventre Marine Protected Area, which provided the technical equipment, we were able to observe 20 major and minor ponds simultaneously. Only in Sal’e Porcus, which duting summer is just a dry plain, we counted 2800 flamingos and 35 geese. And newly arrived visitors, 200 cranes from northern Europe. We truly host a unique heritage of biodiversity and beauty".