Discover the fauna of the Reserve

The Nature Reserve hosts a broad community of animals and, because it is a wetland, the entire ecosystem is influenced by the amount of water at each point. For more information about the entire ecosystem, see the Habitats page.

The Reserve constitutes an ‘island’ amid the surrounding territory, providing food and shelter for very interesting animals that cannot live elsewhere. Various predatory birds that live on the surrounding hills — for example, the peregrine falcon or hawk — frequent the area in search of prey. The Monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa, which overlooks the Reserve, is itself a habitat, a ‘living monument’ when seen through the eyes of a naturalist. Indeed, the ancient walls provide shelter for a series of animals typical of stone walls and rocky ravines, including the western jackdaw, hoopoes, and great tit, but the famous lone thrush, memorialized by Giacomo Leopardi, can also be spotted on the roof.

Many different environments are found in the Lame, from meadows to vast rush stands and small forests. Each environment hosts different communities of animals, not always tied to the aquatic environment, but of great interest anyway. One example is the Eurasian hobby, which lives in the forest and hunts dragonflies and small birds over the bodies of water and meadows. There are many mammals in the forest, such as the least weasel and fox, as well as all types of birds typical of this environment, from tits to woodpeckers to different finches (Eurasian chaffinch, European greenfinch, etc.). In autumn and spring, a multitude of migratory birds stop in the trees, including various warblers (chiffchaff, western Bonelli’s warbler, wood warbler, willow warbler) or flycatchers, to name a few.
The broad rush stands host the most interesting community of animals in the Reserve. They are rich in insects, including a variety of dragonflies, but there are also many flies and butterflies that support species higher up the food chain. Many aquatic birds are tied to this habitat, such as the common reed warbler, great reed warbler, or little bittern, which weave their nests on the stems, or the great crested grebe, common moorhen, and mallard, which build their nests at the base.

As for fish, the ‘Lame’ host the most adaptable and often invasive species, such as the large wels catfish, which create serious problems for all other animals, such that the populations of aquatic birds have dropped dramatically, moving to the ‘Lamette’ or lake.

The Lamette consist primarily of rush stands that communicate directly with the lake. The habitats here are less differentiated, but they are more likely to host native fish species. Since this is an integral Reserve area and people are not allowed to enter, there is a large presence of rare nesting bird species, such as the bearded tit, purple heron, and Savi’s warbler. Various types of ducks can also be seen in winter. This interesting environment can be admired from above along Via Colombera, which connects Iseo to Cremignane. Binoculars are useful for spotting the birds.

The limited size of the Reserve and its complete isolation from the surrounding forests due to the roads greatly limits the presence of mammals. The species here are mostly nocturnal, so it is easier to see traces of their movements rather than actually see them. The exceptions are two invasive species (exotic, introduced by people): the nutria and the cottontail rabbit or Eastern cottontail.

The clear drop in biodiversity that affects many environments is creating increasing problems for conservation, and amphibians are among the animals that have been most affected by changes over the decades. One of the largest causes is the fragmentation and reduction of habitats, with significant consequences for the breeding sites of these species. Added to this are the introduction of fish even in small lakes, wetland reclamation, and numerous road investments.

In the peat bogs, amphibians can be found only in areas with shallow water, inaccessible to the various predatory fish. Species found in the Reserve include the rare and protected Italian Agile Frog (Rana latastei), the Italian Tree Frog (Hyla intermedia), more common in the ‘Lamette’, and the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex). Small but specific interventions to protect these species are being implemented by the managing body through the creation of small ponds.

As can be easily understood, a large number of insects live in the Torbiere Reserve. They form the basis of the food chains that regulate the entire ecosystem. Some, which we see as bothersome flies or even mosquitoes, are fundamental sources of food for birds and fish. Keep in mind that in spring, nearly all chicks born in the Reserve feed on insects, and the same is true of the females, which need a lot of protein when producing eggs.
The drop in insects in recent years is one of the causes of the serious decrease in birds throughout Europe. With respect to aquatic life, it should be mentioned that there is a complex and fascinating network of relationships between the various aquatic invertebrates, starting with plankton, and that this network is the link between plants and animals. Unfortunately, the network is strongly conditioned by the presence of toxins in the water, so it is increasingly necessary to control the quality of the water that reaches the Reserve.
Some of the flashiest insects found in the peat bogs are undoubtedly the dragonflies, with more than 30 species. For enthusiasts, the Reserve has published a field guide (available at the Visitors’ Centre and the office) for help in identifying these striking insects.

Variable Damselfly

A dragonfly in the Zygoptera suborder, a springtime species that flies slowly.

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Blue-tailed damselfly

These dragonflies in the Zygoptera suborder are widespread throughout Italy and can be observed in their active state from April to October.

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Large White-Faced Darter

Protected by the Habitat Directive (Annexes II and IV). This dragonfly is extinct in the Reserve.

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Water Striders

These live on the pond surface. They have long thin legs with very thick water-repellent down at the ends that prevents them from sinking due to the surface tension of the water.

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They are a vast, diverse family of insects in the order Diptera including more than 6000 species.

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Common blue

A small butterfly with a wingspan between 25 and 28 mm pertaining to the Lycaenidae family. The larvae feed on legumes.

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Large skipper

A small butterfly with a wingspan between 28 and 33 mm pertaining to the Hesperiidae family. The larvae feed on various grasses.

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Lesser purple emperor

A large butterfly with a wingspan between 50 and 63 mm pertaining to the Nymphalidae family. The species is bound to damp environments since it lays its eggs on willow and poppy trees.

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Scarce swallowtail

One of the largest European butterflies with a wingspan between 55 and 80 mm, the scarce swallowtail pertains to the Papilionidae family. The larvae feed on various trees and bushes in the Rosaceae family, such as hawthorn, species in the Prunus genus, and apple and pear trees.

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Clouded yellow

A medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan between 37 and 55 mm pertaining to the Pieridae family. The larvae feed on various legumes.

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Jersey tiger

This is a diurnal moth in the Erebidae family. It is important for conservation and is protected by the Habitat Directive (Annex II).

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Asian lady beetle

A small beetle between 5.5 and 8.5 mm long. This species is contained in the regional black list of invasive species (Regional Government Decree no. 2658 of 16 December 2019).

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Praying mantis

A large species of mantis up to 9 centimetres long native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is also present as an invasive species in North America.

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Black-Tailed Skimmer

A dragonfly in the Anisoptera suborder, it is one of the easiest species to spot.

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Downy Emerald

A dragonfly in the Anisoptera suborder. Since the last century, they have been found in the Reserve and are still present in large numbers.

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Backswimmers are typically aquatic insects, even though they use the store of air that enwraps their bodies to breath, using their long rear legs as oars.

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Predaceous Diving Beetles

A species of Coleoptera capable of swimming in the water using the hairs on its legs, it is also a fearful aquatic predator, both as a larva and as an adult.

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The protected area is particularly important for birds, with a notable variety of environments ranging from forests to meadows, rush stands, and permanently flooded bodies of water. The number of species here therefore is very high and changes throughout the year depending on the continuous movement of these interesting animals. The Reserve is like a large international nature airport, with individuals leaving and arriving continuously. These movements follow a rough calendar. Between August and November, thousands of migratory birds pass through and often stop in the Reserve during their autumn migration southwards, with the flycatchers, warblers, and ospreys among the first to arrive.

Wintering birds can be seen between December and January. These include the grey heron, little egret, Eurasian bittern, great egret, and hundreds of cattle egrets. Ducks are clearly decreasing compared to the past. This is due to a number of local causes — such as the decrease in underwater vegetation and the presence of the wels catfish — and global causes, such as climate change.

From February to May, you can witness the spring migration northwards, with the arrival of thousands of swallows and swifts. In April, four different species of swallows and two species of swifts can be seen. From May to the beginning of July, nesting birds are present in the peat bogs, but some species start nesting as early as March and April. Those nesting early include some resident species (which remain year round) such as little grebes, grebes, or Cetti’s warblers, while migratory birds coming from the south arrive a little later. Among others, there are the reed warblers and great reed warblers in May, and western marsh harriers and black kites in April.

Common Cuckoo

This species is known for its very interesting reproductive strategy. It is a parasite in fact, since it lays its eggs in the nests of many other species.

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Western Marsh Harrier

This is a very able flyer, demonstrating the fact especially in spring, when males and females follow daring nuptial parades.

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This is a magnificent bird of prey known for its ability to grab fish with its claws while performing spectacular dives. Currently being introduced in Italy after it became extinct, a few pairs are now present in Tuscany and Sardinia.

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Red-crested pochard

Once considered rare, it has become the most common duck species in the Reserve in recent years.

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Black-Headed Gull

For years, gulls have been moving away from the seashores, colonizing Italian inland areas, including the Province of Brescia, especially outside the reproductive period.

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Common Moorhen

This is a sedentary species, rather common and easily seen on the lake, but also in small bodies of water, trenches, or millraces.

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A common, well-known dabbling duck that represents the ‘prototype’ of domestic species.

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Common Kingfisher

They are easier to see when moving from one bank to the other, but you have to be lucky, since this only takes a few seconds. A small turquoise arrow passes by, whistling just above the water, and the kingfisher has already disappeared!

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Common Pochard

Since this is a gregarious species, it can be seen in groups mixed with other species, especially in autumn and winter.

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Black Kite

The black kite is a bird of prey distinguished, as per its name, by its nearly uniform dark colour.

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Black-Crowned Night Heron

The scientific name of this bird means ‘night raven’, since its call resembles that of a raven, which it usually emits when flying at sunset and at night.

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Water Rail

It emits a sound similar to a frightened pig.

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Savi’s Warbler

This bird is easier to hear than see. It emits a monotone buzz than can be confused with that of insects. It sings from the top of reeds or bushes, so you can challenge yourself by searching for this small mimetic bird.

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Great Crested Grebe

They are seen almost exclusively in the water. They do not escape by flying into the air but rather dive quickly under the water.

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Little Bittern

This is the smallest European heron, very adept at camouflaging itself among the rushes.

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Eurasian Bittern

The elusive presence of this species is betrayed in spring by its loud call, similar to a gloomy ‘bellow’ which can even be heard a couple of kilometres away.

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Cetti’s Warbler

These birds are much easier to hear than see, given that they love to be among the densest vegetation.

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Great Cormorant

These are able fishing birds capable of following the fish underwater. Returning to the surface, they quickly turn the fish and swallow it head first. Since their feathers are not waterproof, they often ‘stretch out’ to dry as they rest after a dive. They open their wings and remain still until they dry.

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Mute Swan

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Great Reed Warbler

It is not easy to see these birds, except they are singing at the tops of the reeds or bushes. It is easier to hear their song, which consists of scraping sounds like cre-cre-cre, cri-cri, and cro-cro alternating with chattering and whistles.

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Bearded Reedling

This very pretty bird is so rare and elusive that when it appears, it attracts swarms of photographers and birdwatchers.

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Purple Heron

Normally silent, these birds become more talkative during the reproductive period.

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Grey Heron

This is one of the largest herons. As per its name, it is grey in colour, and its neck is white with black stripes.

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The Reserve has no recent studies on these types of animals. As far as molluscs are concerned, various terrestrial species are certainly present, such as keelback slugs (Limacidae), which have no shell, and snails in the Helix genus, the common land snail, and probably also those in the Cepaea genus, with their yellow and brown striped shells, which were once very common. Aquatic species here probably include the limnea (Lymnaeidae), which has a pointed shell.


In addition to the exotic crayfish described in the section on invasive species, other tiny aquatic species are present, including copepods, gammarids, water fleas, and others that are often used to study water quality. All are fundamental species for the health of the ecosystem since they form an indispensable link in the food chain. Their scarcity automatically leads to a reduction in fish and birds.

These are species that do not belong to the local fauna. They are often invasive and introduced by humans for hunting, fishing, food, or companionship. They consist of animals from other countries, often from other continents, and create serious imbalances in the ecosystem since there are few predators or diseases that could keep them under control. For many of these species, containment or eradication projects are underway or being studied. It is strictly forbidden to introduce any animal or plant species into natural environments, and even more so in protected areas!

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