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Biviere and Piana di Gela Protected areas of Mazarin

The Biviere di Gela oriented nature reserve is a regional nature reserve in Sicily, established in 1997. The reserve includes the area closely surrounding Lake Biviere, a relict lake enclosed in the dunes of the Gulf of Gela, just a kilometer and a half from the sea, from which it was largely fed in the past.

The area on which the Reserve stands was, until the sixteenth century, a brackish marshy environment. At the beginning of the seventeenth century the Duke Giovanni of Aragona transformed it into a fresh water lake by connecting it with an underground channel to the Dirillo river. Until the mid-twentieth century, the lake was a hunting and fishing reserve.

In 1991 it was declared a wetland of international importance recognized by the Ramsar Convention.


The vegetation of the area surrounding the lake is characterized by various hydrophilic species such as, among the most present, the Potamogeton pectinatus. Ceratophyllum demersum, Scirpus maritimus, Scirpus lacustris and Phragmites australis are also present to a lesser extent.
The surrounding meadows are home to species such as thyme and rosemary as well as, in spring, several wild orchids including Ophrys oxyrrhynchos, a rare Sicilian endemism.
The white broom (Retama raetam), the beach cornflower (Centaurea sphaerocephala) and the rare Leopoldia gussonei, a punctiform endemism of the coast of the Gulf of Gela, thrive in the dune strip that separates the lake from the sea.

The Biviere di Gela is the largest coastal lake in Sicily and constitutes one of the most important resting and wintering areas for numerous species of migratory birds. The avifauna, represented by over 200 species, therefore constitutes the most important naturalistic element of the Reserve.

Among the Anatids it is easy to observe the Wigeon (Anas penelope), the Pintail (Anas acuta), the Shoveller (Anas clypeata), the Garganey (Anas querquedula) and the Pochard (Aythya ferina); the ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca), one of the four most endangered Italian species, is also sporadically reported.


There are also numerous species of waders including the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the Black Godwit (Limosa limosa), the Curlew (Numenius arquata) and the Little Plover (Charadrius dubius). It is not infrequent to meet numerous species of herons including the gray heron (Ardea cinerea), the great white heron (Casmerodius albus), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides) and, more sporadically, the rare Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea). Also present, but more difficult to observe, are the Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) and the Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), with nocturnal habits. Among the other species present, the Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), which has become the symbol of the Reserve, the spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the hoopoe (Upupa epops) and, among the birds of prey, the Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and the rare Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).