The vision of Tuscany has inspired countless artists, poets, and hordes of tourists. Its rolling hills, prodigious olive groves, and cobblestone streets beg visitors to slow their frenetic pace, sip some wine, and relax in fields of brilliant sunflowers. Tuscany fostered some of Italy’s, and the world’s, greatest cultural achievements under the tender care and devious machinations of the powerful Medici family, gaining eternal eminence in the arts for its staggering accomplishments during a scant half-century. Today, tourists flock to Tuscany to witness the glory that was, and the wonder that still is, Toscana.
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There are normally around 4,000 breeding pairs of Arctic, 2,000-3,000 sandwich terns (Sterna sandvicensis), but only 200-300 pairs common terns and 100 pairs of roseate terns (Sterna dougallii). The tern family are all very similar in appearance and have only slight technical differences in colour variations which probably only a dedicated bird enthusiast would recognise, with the possible exception of the roseate tern, which has a soft pink blush on its underparts and a blackish-grey bill with scarlet at the base. The tern family in general are between 14 and 16 in. (36-41 cm) in length and are easily recognised by their fine sleek lines and long, deeply-forked streamerlike tails. Often referred to as the sea swallow, they are a very dainty bird. Their plumage is white and they have a grey mantle and a black nape. Terns usually live in large colonies on rocky islands or sandy, shingle dunes and lay between one and three eggs, coloured buff or pale green, blotched with brown. The incubation and fledging period varies between the different species: the sandwich terns take 21-24 days incubation and 35 days to fledging, Arctic terns 21-22 days incubation and 21-28 to fledging, roseate terns 23-25 days incubation and 28 to fledging and the common terns 22-26 incubation and 28 to fledging. In cold stormy summers the mortality rate among chicks can be devastating, with sometimes whole colonies being wiped out due to lack of food, cold, rain or the danger of shifting sand which can easily bury them, but when conditions are decent and they are left undisturbed, the young chicks stay close to the nest and grow very quickly. Flocks of terns can often be seen diving like bullets into shoals of small fish just beneath the surface and making quite a racket with their cries of ‘krik tre-wit.
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