Bird watching in Sardinia

We don’t need much convincing to look at a holiday in Sardinia, but in case you need another reason to think about visiting this Italian island then perhaps we can persuade you with news that Sardinia is well regarded as a thriving birding hotspot!

Although that may seem surprising, when you consider Sardinia’s beautiful natural scenery, it’s really no surprise that wildlife thrives in this region and there is an abundance of species in Sardinia that are rarely seen in the UK. The island is rich in sand banks, rugged cliffs and oak forests, and has been less intensively farmed compared to mainland Italy. It also has many salty lagoons, meaning birds such as Purple Gallinule, Greater Flamingo and Slender-billed Gull can be found here in abundance. So, without further ado, here’s our little guide on which species can be found where.

Alghero is a convenient base for your birding holiday in Sardinia as it has good transport links with other European cities and the Bosa area is home to Sardinia’s two remaining colonies of Griffon Vultures, which tend to site themselves in the cliffs behind a pizzeria on the coast road. This area is also reasonable for seeing Little Kestrel. About 20 minutes west of Alghero, you can reach Cape Caccia, where you can see Crag Martin and Pallid and Alpine Swift, and you may even see Melodious Warbler and Barbary Partridge if you arrive early in the morning. Note, however, that Cape Caccia is touristic as there is an attractive cave nearby and the comings and goings of tour buses can prevent sightings.

During your Italy bird-watching vacation it is worth spending a night or two in one of the small hilltop villages close to Alghero, such as Magadomas. From one of these villages you can enjoy looking down from your hilltop vantage position to see raptors, Golden and Bonnelli’s Eagles, Goshawk, Montagu’s Harrier and Sardinia Warbler. You can also reach Oristano from Alghero, where there is a concentration of lagoons and the possibilities of sightings are endless! It’s well worth investigating this area over a few days as there are opportunities to see Marsh Harrier, Greater Flamingo, Purple Gallinule, Ferruginous Duck, numerous herons and Great White Egret. On the subject of lagoons, you could also stay a few days in Cagliari (the capital of Sardinia), as here there is much more opportunities to see Great Flamingo and herons.

Another good option for places to stay in Sardinia for a birding holiday is La Maddalena, which is an archipelago that can be reached from the port of Palau. From La Maddalena you can visit other more secluded islands, such as San Pietro, which is home to an Eleonora Falcon colony and you can also find Marmora’s Warbler and Blue Rock Thrush here.

One of the great things about Sardinia is that you can be based in one location and easily visit many of the smaller villages or islands in a day as the road system is excellent and well set up for tourists that may not be familiar with the area so there are plenty of road signs and you shouldn’t struggle to find places. What’s more, Sardinians are embracing conservation, meaning that rarer species, including Little Bustard, are possibilities!

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