Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pian Grande, Monte Sibellini National Park

Father Benedict introduces us to Simone Olemammo, who works in resource management at Monte Sibellini National Park. His projects include reintroducing chamois and monitoring the increasing populations of wolves and goshawks. He holds up a finger: “We have one bear,” he says happily. This bear has apparently wandered up here from Abruzzo National Park.

Simone also keeps an eye on the wellbeing of the rock partridges, using a recorder to attract them. But he likes raptors the best of all the birds in the park. There are buzzards, royal eagles, and peregrines. He also admires nuthatches and an interesting woodpecker that crawls up rock faces with its wings spread out “like a butterfly.” We enjoy this young Italian’s enthusiasm for wild creatures; he makes us think of Saint Francis.

We spend an afternoon in the national park. It reminds us of Alaska with its sweeping scenery, high treeless mountains, and melting banks of snow. The wind is gusty and there is an occasional spit of hail. We can understand why Simone admires the fierce, magnificent birds of this environment. We find a meadow of wild crocuses, harbingers of the great number of flowers for which the Pian Grande is famous.

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