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While donkeys, ducks and swans spend their days in peaceful harmony with guests in the hotel grounds, an astonishing parallel world exists right next door to them. We humans cannot see it – but we can certainly hear what goes on there! Part of the park surrounding the Castello del Sole, nestling between the fields of Terreni alla Maggia with their colourful vegetation and the deep blue waters of Lake Maggiore, is home to an extensive bird reserve that belongs to the Bolle di Magadino nature conservation zone.
The nature reserve: somewhere to get away from it all
This is one of the most valuable nature reserves on the southern side of the Swiss Alps, classified as a water and migratory bird conservation zone of national importance. Humans are not granted free access to this zone, because the many migratory birds that stop over here enjoy shelter and peace in its alluvial forests, deadwood, marshes and reeds. The birds can also find food and nesting places here, and they are able to rest after the long distances they have flown to reach the Castello del Sole bird reserve.
«As well as providing the birds with an area where they can rest, our bird reserve gives our guests the opportunity of a more profound experience.»
A place to rest before flying over the Alps
Some of the migratory birds have travelled long distances over Europe, Africa and the oceans. And before they embark on the most strenuous part of their journey (the flight over the Alps), these creatures have a place here where they can top up their energy reserves – in almost the same way as the human guests who come to relax at the Castello del Sole. Huge flocks of orioles live in the bird reserve during spring. Their song is reminiscent of the distant rain forests of Asia. And if you venture a little closer to the nature reserve, you can hear them communicating with each other. Nightingales, kingfishers and turtle doves also find shelter and rest here. Local ducks also pass by occasionally. In summer, vivacious house martins flit through the woods of the bird sanctuary.
A refuge for rare species
Switzerland's house martin colonies have been dwindling in size for many years. But the largest colonies live in Ascona. This is thanks to 552 artificial nests that have been set up on the hotel's local farm, the Terreni alla Maggia, alongside yet more nests built by the martins themselves. So a sustainable visit to the Castello is an experience for all the senses. The rare birds are responsible for the sounds, while the hosts of this five-star hotel do their best to delight the other senses.
Birdwatching walk for hotel guests
Simon Jenny, Director of the Castello del Sole, is absolutely thrilled by the opportunity to be so close to the birds as they go about their business, and to listen to them. «As well as providing the birds with an area where they can rest, our bird reserve gives our guests the opportunity of a more profound experience.» Once each week, early in the morning, hotel guests have the chance to immerse themselves in the bird reserve as expert guides help them to discover these wonders of nature by name.
Via Muraccio 142