Tuscany is a great place to go birdwatching, with a wide variety of locations and habitats, making Tuscany a diverse and rewarding destination for bird enthusiasts. It's also a rewarding spots for birdwatching dilettantes, like myself, with no real expertise beyond curiosity.

Birdwatching parks in Tuscany

Here's a list of some of the main birdwatching sites in Tuscany, with locations, facilities, and the best times to visit:

1. Maremma Regional Park (Parco della Maremma)

Location: In southern Tuscany along the coast between Grosseto and Talamone there is a section of untouched natural landscape, twenty kilometers of coast as it might have been a hundred or thousand years ago. Walking on the long beach you will see how full of life all the beaches of the Mediterranean once were. Inland there are thoousands of acres of woods and evergreen scrub inhabited by porcupines, fallow deer, roe deer, wild boars, foxes and wolves, as well as ponds, marshes and a river frequented by thousands of birds, along one of the great migratory crossroads of the Mediterranean.
Habitats: Includes coastal dunes, pine forests, wetlands, and rocky shores. Facilities: Visitor centers, guided tours, and bird hides. You need a ticket to visit and you can buy it at the Alberese centre: Via Bersagliere, 7/9 Alberese (Gr) Tel. +39 0564 393238 E-mail: [email protected] Open from 30 March everyday from 8:30 to 16:00. Google Maps Link Website: parco-maremma.it/en/ Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn during migration periods. Notable Birds: Flamingos, herons, ospreys, hoopoes, and various waders.

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The beach at Alberese

Where to stay to visit Parco della Maremma

Any of our houses in the Maremma region would be perfect bases to visit the Parco della Maremma. The cottages in the old monastery of Pieve di Caminino would be perfect.

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Sitting on the terrace of Bifora at Pieve di Caminino

2. Orbetello Lagoon

Location: Also in the south of Tuscany, near the town of Orbetello, close to the Monte Argentario promontory. It's a lagoon made out of the brackish lagoon between the branches of the isthmus that connect Mount Argentario to the mainland. At the Orbetello Oasis you can see thousands of birds up close, including herons, geese, cranes, flamingos, lapwings, waders, birds of prey and more. One of the most remarkable sights of Orbetello is the flight of a flock of pink flamingos, sometimes disturbed by the passage of a marsh harrier. Habitats: Shallow brackish lagoon with mudflats and reed beds. Facilities: Observation towers, visitor center, and guided tours by WWF. The WWF Laguna di Orbetello centre is here: SS Aurelia km 148.300 (corsia sud), Località Ceriolo III° Albinia-Orbetello (GR) Google Maps Link Or Casale della Giannella (Centro Educazione Ambientale “A. Peccei” e Museo Casa Pelagos) Str. prov.le 36 della Giannella, km 4, Albinia-Orbetello (GR) Google Maps Link Best Time to Visit: Winter for overwintering birds and spring for breeding birds.

  • Notable Birds: Flamingos, spoonbills, avocets, various species of ducks, and raptors like ospreys.
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Flamingos making a heart - Francesco-1978, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Where to stay to visit Orbetello

Any of our houses in the Maremma region would be perfect bases to visit the Parco della Maremma. The charming cottage of Casina Moresca on mount Argentario would be perfect.

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Casina Moresca, looking out over the Mediterranean

3. San Rossore, Migliarino, and Massaciuccoli Natural Park

Location: In the north of Tuscany, near Lucca and Pisa, it extends from the mouth of the Arno River to Lake Massaciuccoli. The lake is one of the best places for those interested in birds, with a 120-year long tradition of birdwatching. There are nearly 300 species catalogued in the area, which is protected as a nature reserve and welcomes many birds passing through every season. LIPU, the italian organisation to protect birds, has a special reserve called Chiarone which you can explore via a boardwalk and a a flat path within a section of humid lowland forest. It's a pleasant and evocative walk where you can observe the typical flora of swamps and marshland woods, and the various species of birds that populate this environment, an important resting, wintering and reproduction area. The route winds through the reed thicket and the sedge grove, with short branches leading to the four observatories. At the end of the boardwalk the path continues to a further raised observatory and a "butterfly garden", a small island of plant biodiversity often full of butterflies in all phases of their life cycle. For independent visitors entry is free every day from dawn to dusk. Habitats: Coastal dunes, pine forests, wetlands, and freshwater lakes. Facilities: Nature trails, birdwatching hides, and visitor centers. If you'd like to walk the boardwalk, the LIPU centre is here: Via del Porto, 154, 55054 Massaciuccoli LU, Italy Google Maps Link Best Time to Visit: All year round, but spring and autumn are ideal for migratory birds. Notable Birds: Marsh harriers, bitterns, bearded reedlings, and various waterfowl.

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Where to stay close to Massaciuccoli

Any of our houses in the Lucca region would be perfect bases to visit the Parco della Maremma. Elegant Villa Fobbia would be perfect.

4. Diaccia Botrona Nature Reserve

Location: Below Livorno, near Piombino and Castiglione della Pescaia in Grosseto province. This area was once a lake but was drained almost completely in the 18th century during the huge drainage works ordered by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany in an effort to defeat the malaria that was rife in the region. Today it's a marshland with lots of birds; you can explore the Diaccia Botrona Nature Reserve on a circular route of 14 km or just explore the area around the visitor center. Habitats: Marshlands and wet meadows. Facilities: Visitor center, observation towers, and educational trails. The visitor center is here: Via Casa Rossa Ximenes, 58043 Castiglione della Pescaia GR, Italy Google Maps Link Diaccia Botrona Website Best Time to Visit: Winter and early spring. Notable Birds: Flamingos, herons, stilts, and various migratory birds.

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Where to stay to visit Diaccia di Botrona

Any of our houses in the Maremma region would be perfect bases to visit the Diaccia di Botrona. The cottages in the old monastery of Pieve di Camininowould be perfect.

5. Padule di Fucecchio

Location: Between the provinces of Florence, Pistoia, and Lucca, this is a large inland area of marshes that has long been known as a good place for birdwatching. On a recent trip, when I had a pause in my villa-visiting schedule, I'm convinced I saw a group of African Sacred Ibis - though as you can see the photo isn't too clear. Habitats: Large inland marshes, wet meadows, and reed beds. Facilities: Visitor centers, observation towers, and guided tours. Best Time to Visit: Spring for breeding birds and autumn for migration. Notable Birds: Purple herons, night herons, whiskered terns, and bitterns.

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My rather bad photo of Sacred Ibis in the Padule di Fucecchio

Where to stay to visit Padule di Fucecchio

Any of our villas close to Lucca, Pisa, or Pistoia would be perfect bases to visit the Padule di Fucecchio. The apartments in the beautiful Villa San Miniatoare very well placed.

6. Val d’Orcia:

Location: South of Siena, with rolling hills and agricultural landscapes dotted with beautiful hill towns. This area has no centre, it's a large area with plenty of different habitats. Habitats: Mixed farmland, woodlands, and open fields. Facilities: Hiking trails and scenic viewpoints. Best Time to Visit: All year round, but spring and summer are best for raptors and songbirds. Notable Birds: Buzzards, red kites, larks, and various farmland birds.

Where to stay to visit the Val d'Orcia

Any of our villas in the Val d'Orcia would be perfect bases. The aptly named villa of Valdorciais a great choice.

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The villa of Valdorcia has beautiful views out towards Mont'Amiata and over the Val d'Orcia

All these Tuscan sites offer a variety of birdwatching experiences, from coastal wetlands and inland marshes to rolling hills and agricultural landscapes, but It's worth remembering that you can go birdwatching anywhere in Tuscany with rewarding results.

If you were staying in Montestigliano, for example, a brief walk west into the beautiful hills surrounding the Merse river would be a great place to explore.