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Comune di Duino Aurisina

Friuli Venezia Giulia - Parchi e riserve naturali

Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia

FVG Live
The fauna in the Reserve is also of great interest thanks to the environmental diversity with different ecology, as already described in the paragraph on vegetation. Reptiles, such as lizards and snakes, are most commonly found on the rocks. Land mammals, such as squirrels and other rodents, prefer the bush and pine-wood, while cetaceans (acquatic mammals) such as the bottle-nosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the purpoise (Stenella coeruleoalba) have been seen in the sea in front of the Reserve.
Birds are present in all the environments of the Reserve. Over 150 species have been seen, mostly migrants, which stop at the Reserve to rest and feed. Sedentary species nest on the rocks and in the wood. The most famous species which successfully nested in the Reserve is the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), included in the Red List of endangered animal species and considered vulnerable. The peregrine falcon nested on the Duino Cliffs from 1987 to the midnineties.
In the following pages some species living in the Reserve will be described, chosen among those considered the most representative for each environment and the most easily observable.

Sea
The sea along the rocky coastline of the cliffs is few meters deep. Sunlight penetrates this limited depth well, which makes it possible for many plant species, both algae and higher plants (phanerogams) which adapted to sea life, to grow. There are also many benthonic animals (which live attached or bound to the sea bottom), such as sponges, sea anemones and shellfish. There are also many species of benthonic fish, such as the painted comber (Serranus scriba), labrids (Labridae family), gobies (Gobiidae family) and blennies (Blennidae family). The rocky coast areas are generally visited by good swimming fish such as the bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and various sparids species (Sparidae family). From the edge of the cliffs some birds can be observed on the sea surface. The most common are yellow-legged gull (Larus cachinnans) and black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus). From autumn to winter species which winter here grebes can be observed, that are diving birds which swim quickly underwater. The most frequent is the black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis).

Rocks
Cliffs and leeward rock fields are deal environments for reptiles which use the rocks to warm themselves in the sun but also take refuge in the cracks if need be. Snakes include the Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima), western whip snake (Coluber viridiflavus) and nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes). Lizards include the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) and italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula).
The most common reptile which can easily be observed on the cliffs is the Dalmatian algyroides (Algyroides nigropunctatus), a dark-brown lizard with small black spots. In spring males have black backs, turquoise throats and orange bellies. The Dalmatian algyroides feeds on various invertebrates, in particular insects. This species only lives on the eastern Adriatic coasts, from north-western Greece and the Ionian islands to the Isonzo river and Mount Sabotino above Gorizia, the western limit of its area of distribution. The warm rock walls are suitable for nesting for some bird species connected to the Mediterranean environment. These include the bluerock thrush (Monticola solitarius), a bird which is the same size as a blackbird and has a dusty blue plumage. It can be seen from the cliff edge looking towards the sea. The male’s song is distinctive and melodious and can be heard early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the heat subsides. Other  bird species nest on the cliff rocks but are more difficult to see. They include the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochoruros) and Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) with red eyes and a black head, a Mediterranean species whose area of distribution reaches its northernmost limit here.
Ravens (Corvus corax), larger and completely black, nest in the cavities of the rocks.

Bush and pine-wood
Bush and pine-wood are the areas were most animals live. The easiest to see are birds, in particular those of the passerine group. The most widespread is the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). Females are mainly brown, whereas males are more brightly coloured, with blue heads, black backs and pink-purple bellies. Both display a white and a black stripe on the wings. Chaffinches feed mainly on seeds and have short, strong beaks. Tits are also widespread: the great tit (Parus major) and blue tit (Parus coerulus) in the bush and the coal tit (Parus ater) and crested tit (Parus cristatus) in the pine-wood. In both environments there are jays (Garrulus glandarius), which belong to the passerine group, even though they are larger. Jays are strong multi-coloured birds which produce hoarse and wellaudible sounds. In the pine-wood, besides the two species of tits, there is also the sparrow-hawk (Accipiter nisus), a bird of prey, and great spotted woodpecker (Picoides major), which can be easily recognised by its pointed beak and undulating flight. Woodpeckers seek food in dry trunks and pine-cones. At the beginning of spring they can be heard drumming on the trees, a signal they use to mark their territory.
In the pine-wood there are also squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) which feed on black pine-cone seeds. Squirrels are rodents which have specialised in living on the trees and have become good climbers and jumpers. They cannot be seen very often as they prefer quieter areas inside the Reserve, as shown by the remains of pine-cones on which they feed.
 
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