Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and home to an incredibly diverse flora and fauna. Many of the species on this island are endemic. As part of an Italian research team, I studied seabirds there. These seabirds spend most of their lives foraging on open waters. They venture on the island and its islets only during the breeding season for nesting.
In addition to the more common Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and Scopoli's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) there is another small bird that you can observe on the open sea, if you are very lucky: The European Storm-Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus). With only 25-30 grams, it is one of the smallest existing seabirds, but its size does not prevent it from travelling more than 1,500 km in less than 48 hours - as we discovered during our research - foraging for itself and its offspring!
With some time and patience, the sea holds some more incredible surprises: bottlenose dolphins hunting a few miles off the coast, not to mention the hundreds of species of fish that can be observed while snorkelling under the boat. Among the many species of fish we encountered, one struck us most, because of its colorful appearance and because it is an absolute rarity: the helmet gurnard!
The coast was also full of surprises. These apparently inhospitable environments are home to some incredible species, such as the Eleonora's falcon. This migratory bird of prey winters in Madagascar. It applies a very particular strategy, delaying its reproduction by laying its eggs in mid-July in order to synchronize the breeding of its chicks with the autumn migration of passerines.
In the Sardinian hinterland, there are lots of species that inhabit the meadow and pasture areas but they are very difficult to observe. One of them is the Barbary partridge; another - the Little bustard, which is in sharp decline across Europe due to the loss of suitable habitat. The island is also famous for its endemic herpetological species, such as the Bedriaga’s rock lizard. With a good pair of binoculars, you can observe all the unique particularities of this species. The brightness of the CL Companion 8x30 binoculars allows me to spot a very localized and elusive species, active mainly during the twilight hours.
Andrea Benvenuti is a young nature photographer from Rome. Since early childhood, nature and animals have always fascinated him. At the age of 18, he began to cultivate a passion for photography. Following his love for nature, he graduated first in Environmental Sciences, followed by a Master’s degree in Ecobiology with a thesis on the foraging behavior of a sea bird. Currently, Andrea is working on photo projects all over the world, focusing on nature conservation and research.
Find out more about his adventures on his Instagram account.
Andrea is part of our Nature Explorer team.
Then you don't have to travel far. The most wonderful discoveries are often waiting just around the corner. We asked our Nature Explorers team about the most beautiful experiences they had in their area.
Who knows? Maybe you will discover unexpected wonders right at your doorstep on your next outdoors adventure too.