Hints to read Medgull colour rings at lake Varano by Nicola Baccetti
Varano Lake is situated along the Adriatic coast, about 60 km north of Foggia. MedGulls at Varano Lake form the largest flock known for Italy (8000+ in Jan 2001), but no rings have ever been read there due to lack of observers. If somebody plans to visit the area for ring reading, he should consider that :
1) to count the flocks, the best places are the lake waters in front of Villaggio Pescatori and Bagno di Cagnano (two tiny villages in the SE part of the lake, hosting 1 flock each). Birds drink and bath there, then depart toward olive groves in the hills. Impossible to read rings.
2) first option to read the rings: the sea beach in front of the lake, accessible from both ends (Foce Capoiale to the west, Foce Varano to the east: each has a small harbour which might be worth a visit). Go there in the early morning.
3) second option to read rings: a small marshland on the lakeside at Foce Varano. When you drive W to E on the coastal road, from Capoiale toward Foce Varano, you have a forest along the sea on the left, and fields along the lake on your right. When you reach the town of Foce Varano, in front of the last group of Eucalyptus trees on the left you should turn right on a small road (name: via Imperia). This small road starts between a pub (recommended) and a restaurant signal, and reaches the lake edge after 100 m. Here you turn left along the lake edge, pass a fishfarm and turn immediately left at the end of the fishfarm fence. Go ahead for 50 metres and park in a sort of rubbish dump. From there you can read rings in the adjacent marsh.
4) To go to Villaggio Pescatori from Foce Varano, continue driving straight ahead instead of turning at the pub. At the end of Foce Varano village turn right on a small road (no signal or just one of a restaurant, hand-written). This road starts just past a cypress hedge of a private garden, that is also on you right. You cross the Muschiaturo reclaimed area, then you enter the olive groves. Very soon you may stop at Crocifisso di Varano, a sort of old monastry on the lake cliffs, in a relevant position, from where at the right time you may count thousands of MedGulls (all of them) while they fly from the sea to the interior of the lake. Otherwise you go on and soon reach Villaggio Pescatori. Going ahead, turn right twice (never leaving the paved road) and you are at Bagno. Check a map if you have problems.
5) Facilities: I would lodge at Foce Varano or at Rodi Garganico. There is a cheap hotel in Rodi. Maybe Rodi is a more lively town, at Foce Varano in winter there is hardly any open shop).
6) Warnings: never leave your car unattended, anywhere. Moreover, you better avoid the town of Cagnano Varano (slightly inland from the lake), because passing through it is always time consuming and you can easily get lost.
7) To reach the area from the north, it takes ca. 5 hours driving from Bologna. You should leave the highway Bologna-Bari at Lesina, then take the main road to Rodi-Vieste and leave it at the exit signaled 'Torre Mileto'. Once you are at Torre Mileto beach just go straight on along the coast for a couple of km and you are at Capoiale (the western lakemouth of Varano).
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