The large wings, the elongated body, the heart and the gaze already beyond hills, mountains, plains, seas. Storks pass through our skies in these late summer days. And it is a surprise to see even the rarest ones, the black storks, choose the Venetian foothills as their migration route. From east to south. Towards Africa, where they will spend the winter. Eleven of them have been sighted in recent days. A record. Scattered groups of honey buzzards fly over the Treviso pre-Alps. They let themselves be carried by the wind, take advantage of the thermals, rest in flight. They do not travel in formation. They go with the wind. As skilled sailors they know how to reduce the effort for a journey of at least forty days during which they will rest in the trees as soon as it gets dark and eat very little. The Biancone passes with the meal in the middle of the beak (the usual snake). The House Martins surprise with their immense families of 200, 300 individuals: they are like a black cloud that obscures the sun. Up here, just over 400 meters above sea level, on clear days you can see the Venice lagoon. All other days follow the course of the Piave, the female forms of the Asolo hills, the more distant ones of the Euganean. And in between the metropolitan galaxy of Paolini. We are on Colle San Giorgio, just west of Maser. It is here that the ornithologists of Lipu and the Venetian Faunists Association have been meeting for 22 years to scan the sky and take into account migrations (sightings are also shared on the Facebook page Autumn migration camp of birds of prey Colle San Giorgio Maser). year between August and September. Because the hill, with the church dedicated to San Giorgio, is in the middle of the migration route of the birds that spent the summer in Eastern Europe and are now heading south. Spain, North Africa, and some go beyond the Sahara to South Africa. For this trip, the Venetian foothills are second only to the Strait of Messina in importance. This is why so many ornithologists, but also simply curious, come here from all over Italy. With the gaze in the clouds that is enchanted by honey buzzards, eagles, griffins, storks, swallows, house martins, buzzards, some osprey. But the real protagonist, the great sailor is still him, the honey buzzard. Long neck and spread wings, this medium-sized hawk can measure up to 130 centimeters in wingspan for a length of just over half a meter. Not only the weather hinders his flight, but also the poachers. Protected by law for over 40 years, the falcon is a victim of poaching especially in Reggio Calabria, before starting its flight over the sea. The destination is the south of the Sahara, where it will remain for the whole winter. He will leave again in the spring, driven by hormones and the anxiety of starting a family, returning to the north and flying to Sicily, Gibraltar, the Black Sea. While scanning the horizon, the best migrations are remembered: “2010 was a fantastic year », says Giancarlo Silveri, soul of Lipu Pedemontana. “That year we counted 15,000 passes. And the best day ever was August 25, 2007 with 3400 passes. This year the weather was not so favorable for sailors. Bad weather has slowed them down a bit. But now the journey seems to have resumed in a great way. ”From 1994 to 2014, 112,697 birds of prey were counted, of which 111,824 were honey buzzards (99.2%). Colle San Giorgio is one of the most scenic of the Asolo hills and is easy to reach.
Destination Maser. Coming from Crocetta del Montello, once you have passed Villa Barbaro, at the roundabout take the first exit on the right and start climbing towards Forcella Mostaccin, at the top of the hill which then descends towards Monfumo. Right in the fork there is a small parking area where you can leave the car. At this point, walk down for 3/400 meters (towards Monfumo) until, on the left, you see the beginning of a path with signs for Colle San Giorgio. You have to take it, always follow it up and once you cross a wider path, keep right on path n. 56. In a few minutes you reach the top of the hill.
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