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Majestic Swans Make Kerkini Lake in Greece Their Home for Winter

Kerkini lake Greece
Credit: Marek Szczepanek /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Dozens of migratory swans are arriving from northern Europe to the Kerkini Lake in northern Greece for the winter months.

The majestic birds will make the lake, situated about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city of Serres, their home for six months.

Lake Kerkini is an artificial reservoir in Central Macedonia, Greece that was created in 1932 and then redeveloped in 1980 on the site of what was previously an extremely extensive marshland.

It has become one of the premier birdwatching sites in Greece and, as it is situated along the migratory flyway for birds en route to the Aegean Sea, the Balkan region, Black Sea, Hungarian steppes, and beyond.

The general coordinator of the management body of the National Park of Kerkini, Theodoros Naziridis, said recently that three kinds of swans make the lake their home.

These include tundra swans, whose population has significantly risen in Greece in the last years in comparison with previous decades, as well as five whooper swans and seven or eight mute swans.

“These are small populations and we recognize the birds as they have rings or collars with information on their trip to Kerkini Lake,” he told the Athens-Macedonia News Agency.

Kerkini lake
Flamingoes flying over Lake Kerkini. Credit: Management body of Lake Kerkini

Lake Kerkini is a premier birdwatching site in Greece

The beautiful wetland is a reference point for birdwatchers and bird photographers in Greece. Apart from swans, one can spot greater flamingos, Dalmatian pelicans, cormorants, pygmy Cormorants, and cranes.

A pleasant surprise in Lake Kerkini was the number of dwarf geese, one of the most endangered species in Europe, hosted in the wetland this year as it increased to 143, which is the maximum number of sightings of the species in one area in recent years in Europe, Naziridis said.

Furthermore, at least 120 cranes were accounted for and observed feeding in the wetlands of Kerkini. These include thousands of ducks from the most common to the rarer red-crested pochards, smews, mergansers, and white-headed ducks.

Kerkini lake Greece
Pelicans at Lake Kerkini. Credit: Vassilios Vescoukis , CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia Commons

In addition, numerous waders and other birds of prey can be spotted, from the impressive white-tailed to eastern imperial and greater spotted eagles, northern goshawks, sparrow hawks, and merlins.

The lake hosts 227 kinds of birds, especially non-migrants, of which seventy-six are recorded in the National Red Catalogue, while at least thirty-one of them are protected by EEC’s Directive concerning wildlife.

What makes an exceptional presence is the buffalo herd in the area. In the surrounding area of Lake Kerkini, there are at least ten amphibian species (frogs, salamanders, newts), five snail species, nineteen reptile species (lizards, snakes, turtles), and a great variety of insects that play an important part in the food chain and contribute towards the biological resources of the lake.

Related: The Ten Most Beautiful Lakes in Greece

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