Lake Cornino Regional Natural Reserve

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

This reserve is in the south-eastern area of the Carnic Prealps. It was established in 1994 and stretches over some 1.200 acres of the municipalities of Forgaria nel Friuli and Trasaghis. A large portion of the Tagliamento riverbed is part of this reserve as well, between the village of Peonis and the bridge near Cornino. Farming land and meadows are abundant, while a rocky amphitheatre is part of this protected area near Cornino Lake.
This Reserve is perfect to safeguard dense biodiversity threatened by extinction while preserving all the natural elements of a true piece of paradise on Earth. Its karstic morphology adds to the overall sheer beauty of the reserve, with rocky cliffs and landslides reaching the Tagliamento riverbed – also known as the “King of alpine rivers”.

Cornino Lake is a small body of water that originated during the ice retreat that occurred about 10 thousand years ago, following one of the major landslides that had hit the area.
Its waters are crystal clear with a high percentage of calcium sulphate.
The lake is 460-feet long and 27-feet deep, with no inlets, nor outlets, but underground water circulation which allows water recycling.

Hence its particular transparency and limited temperature variations (which generally oscillate between 9-11 ° C) during the year. Low in nutrients, it is populated by green algae on the bottom, dense underwater grassland, and rocks colonized by blue seaweed. Due to the lack of nutrients and the low temperature of the water, few fish live in the lake, but there is a lot of crayfish.

Thermophilic species are abundant (i.e. linked to hot environments), favoured by peculiar climatic conditions, with extensive development of xerophilous vegetation (suitable for arid environments), rocks and screes; there are holm oaks (Quercus ilex) in the rocky areas, herbaceous species, shrubs and riparian bushes on alluvial soils – mostly seaberry (Hippophae rhamnoides). Then there are riparian crops, meadows and bushes, pastures around the lake, thermophilic thickets, the vegetation of the lake (green and blue algae), the vegetation of screes and debris layers, as well as arid submontane meadows.

It is very rich and variegated; it includes numerous reptiles such as horned vipers, slow worms, rat snakes, and aesculapian snakes. Amphibian species are present with spotted salamanders, common and emerald toads. Birds are just as abundant, including herons, ducks, seagulls, waders, woodlarks, and ortolan buntings.

In wooded areas interrupted by small mowed meadows, there are blackbirds, blackcaps, great tits, blue tits, finches, nightingales, jays, great spotted woodpeckers, green woodpeckers, rock buntings and white common chiffchaffs.

On the limestone cliffs, there are grey crows, grey owls, black kites, buzzards, the kestrels, golden eagles and sparrowhawks. Many rare species are present, like red kites, the Egyptian vultures, cinereous vultures, and griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus). The latter’s protection project was started in the 1980s and led to the creation of a nesting colony.
Among the nocturnal birds, there are tawny owls and common owls.

Thanks to the river and the pre-alpine reliefs, the reserve is part of an important migratory route: in spring and autumn, short-toed snake eagles, honey buzzards, goshawks, marsh harriers, royal and lesser harriers, ospreys, cuckoo hawks and merlins can be seen.

Mammal species include alpine shrews, hedgehogs, dormice, squirrels, foxes, badgers and martens. Among the ungulates, the most widespread species are roe deers.

(Cornino Lake picture by Maurizio Bruni)

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Via Sompcornino 81 - 33030 Cornino (UD)(UD)

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