Orbetello is a town that stands on a peninsula. To the west is Monte Argentario which rises to 1,200 metres and which used to be an island until joined to the mainland by two tombolos - sand spits which are created through the action of the waves and nearby rivers. The joining of the mountain island with the mainland by these two tombolos formed a lagoon which has an average depth of one metre and is nowhere deeper than two metres. This has created a haven for wildlife and part of which is now a WWF reserve.
The lagoon was later divided into two with the construction of a causeway from Ortebello to Monte Argentario.
There are signs warning that wild camping is forbidden. No campsites were open during my visit but there are many of them which are mainly open from April to October.
I visited it on Christmas Day 2014. I was extremely fortunate that arriving at the same time was a family from Sweden and the gentleman was a keen ornithologist and knew far more than I. My aim had been to see the flamingos and spoonbills and thanks to his sharp eye and excellent equipment that was possible. From talking to the locals, I learned that one would normally see these birds after treking through the northern tombolo.
My photographs, show the birds at extreme range, my optical zoom is only seventeen times and from there the digital zoom takes over. In this case what we see of the birds is at around fifty times magnification.
Other wildlife seen that day includes an otter, eared grebes, black winged stilts, herons, cormorants, marsh harriers, kestrels, shovellers, shelducks and more.
It is very difficult to find the sanctuary, the coordinates placed here on the map are correct - use it if you intend to visit! Whilst travelling south in the direction of Ortebello, you need to turn off at Via del Ceriolo and follow this to the end. This will bring you to the sanctuary.
At the end of the day, I was able to capture some photographs of the sun going down.