Mount Cornacchia

Time ago this mountain was certainly dominated by broad-leaved woods and certainly remained important traces also in the mid-twentieth century if Maranò wrote about the nearby Mount Saraceno: a tall beech forest made up of other species, from opal maple and campeste, Turkey oak, privet, honeysuckle , etc. all plants that characterize the mesophilous woods. Of these beechwoods there are only few traces of single beech trees reduced to bushes, so now the typical environment of the highest mountain in Puglia is basically a hilly prairie colonized by species of birds typical of pastures such as the Calandro, the Lark, the unfailing Strillozzo, while in what remains of the shrubby areas we find the small shrike, the Hoopoe and the whitethroat.

Proceeding to the north-east, on the slopes of Mount Cornacchia survives an area covered by a coppice of Turkey oak, the Toppo Pescara where, at an altitude of 2.953 ft above sea level, there is a small lake basin called Pescara. The pond covers an area of about three hectares with a depth that, in the middle of the lake, also reaches four meters. It is devoid of natural emissaries, its waters are fed by subcollection springs and rainwater as well as snow melting.

From the naturalistic point of view the lake is characterized by the presence of an extensive presence of prairies of Potamogeton natans and ranunculus of water, which is recognized for the unmistakable white flower, as well as for the clusters of ceratophilus, common species in late spring. The presence of fish such as Barbies and Carps strongly limits the existence of amphibians for which the most widespread species are the common toad, whose tadpoles are not pleasing to fish, and the green frog. Other evidences of the presence of the forest are found in the south-west, more precisely on the slopes of Mount Sidone, and in the north with Cerasa woods, the Grove, and Difesa Grande woods. These wooded wrecks are dominated by the Turkey oak, which is accompanied by Maples and Hornbeam.

The open areas are instead dominated by grasslands where it is not rare to find orchids in the early spring, among which the most common is the Orchis purpurea. The woods favor the presence of different species of forest birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, the green woodpecker, the jay. Among the birds of prey we find both more opportunist species such as the Buzzard and the Kestrel, which are typically forest species like the Sparrowhawk. Among the passerines it is easy to hear the metallic song of the Great Tit and the Tomtit. Among the mammals, the most interesting species is the wolf, the largest predator in the Daunia mountains, which despite being continually subject to acts of poaching has established itself permanently in this area.

Vincenzo Rizzi