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This is a coastal national park about 150km south of Rome set up in 1934 to protect part of the once extensive Pontine Marshes before most of the area was lost to reclamation.
The main habitats of the 8,500ha park are marshes and wet meadows which dry out in summer and forests of various species of evergreen oak, part of which is seasonally flooded. There are four lakes, three of which are connected to the sea by narrow channels and the highest point of the park the 541m Mt Circeo.
Also within the park there are many fossil-rich marine caves and the scrub-covered island of Zannone, and where Peregrine Falcon and shearwaters breed and passerines pause to feed during passage periods. The wide range of habitats found within the park attract a huge diversity of bird species to a relatively small and easily accessible area.
Being between Rome and Naples this is a heavily-visited site but has a good selection of typically Mediterranean breeding birds including Great Spotted Cuckoo, Hoopoe and European Roller, Golden Oriole, Sardinian Warbler and Subalpine Warbler. Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike and Red-backed Shrike are all present in summer.
In the spring of 1992 Grey-headed Woodpecker were reported in the park, far to the south of their usual Italian range.
One of the largest colonies of Great Cormorant in Italy is found here and other wetland breeding birds include Little Bittern, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler and Great Reed Warbler and Penduline Tit. Cory's Shearwater and the Mediterranean race of Shag breed on the island of Zannone. This island is also home to small population of the introduced Erckel's Francolin.
On passage Audouin's Gull, Marsh Sandpiper, Garganey and Collared Pratincole may be seen as well as Common Crane, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill and both Black Stork and White Stork. Great White Egret is regular on passage with small numbers now wintering in the area and other herons include Black-crowned Night Heron and Squacco Heron. Slender-billed Curlew has been recorded on passage in very small numbers in recent years. Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern and all three marsh terns are attracted to the lakes and marshes.
Wintering ducks include Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard and there are smaller numbers of Greylag Goose, Black-necked Grebe and Slavonian Grebe and thousands of Eurasian Coot. Black-throated Diver is regularly present in winter on the lakes closest to the sea.
Birds you can see here include:
Black-throated Diver, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Cory's Shearwater, Great Cormorant, Mediterranean Shag, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Greylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Northern Hobby, Lanner Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Erckel's Francolin, Common Quail, Common Pheasant, Common Crane, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Great Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Slender-billed Curlew, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Tern, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, (PM), Barn Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, European Nightjar, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Common Wren, Dunnock, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Robin, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Penduline Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Common Magpie, Common Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, European Serin, Cirl Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting
Mammals are well-represented with Fallow Deer Cervus dama and Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus, Mouflon Ovis musimon and Wild Boar Sus scrofa, a long-established introduction, the Crested Porcupine Hystrix cristata, and various carnivores including Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Badger Meles meles and Polecat Mustela putorius, Weasel Mustela nivalis and Pine Marten martes and Beech Martens Martes foina. Water Buffalo are a common sight in the agricultural areas.
Reptiles include snakes such as Four-lined Snake Elaphe quatuorlineata, Western Whipsnake Coluber viridiflavus and Asp Viper Vipera aspis as well as Spur-thighed Tortoise Testudo graeca and European Pond Terrapin Emys orbicularis.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
The park is easily reached by road from Rome on the S7 towards Terracina, or the S148 Latina road and the Strada Mediana. The main entry point for the park is on the Strada Mediana.
Accommodation is plentiful and varied in this area and the park has information centres, nature trails and guided tours are available.
Content and images originally posted by Steve