In Greece's flat, semi-mountainous areas, many important water habitats are developing into areas of international significance. Perhaps the most essential of these regions is Lake Kerkini. Lake Kerkini is arguably the premier birding site in Greece & the home for Lake Kerkini's Pelicans. With its location on a major migratory route to the Aegean & Black seas, the rest of the Balkan region, & beyond, it experiences some very interesting migrations.
Species that migrate to Lake Kerkini are diverse & include many species of waterbirds, mammals, & reptiles. This lake is a wetland of international importance & protects over 250 species of animals.
The most notable species that migrate to the area is the Dalmatian Pelican, a species classified as extremely vulnerable & the largest bird of the pelican family. The population of these large birds increased significantly due to the conservation efforts of the authorities in the region & today, they are often seen either in flocks or perched on the small islands in the lake. Several species of ducks also migrate to the lake, such as the Eurasian Wigeon, the Mallard, & the Northern Pintail.
Also known for housing large waterfowl populations, Lake Kerkini is home to other animals too. In the wintertime, thousands of greylag geese flock to the marshy lake areas, while the surrounding forests provide habitats for various mammals such as Red Foxes, Beech Martens, & Roe Deer. Additionally, numerous species of reptiles & amphibians are often spotted in the lake's waters. These include the Balkan Terrapin, the European Pond Turtle, the Grass Snake, & the European Tree Frog.
One of the most unique birds photographers can find in Lake Kerkini is the Dalmatian Pelican. This massive bird is the largest member of the pelican family, with a length of 160-183 cm & a wingspan of 290-351 cm. In addition to its size, it is the heaviest flying bird species, with an average weight of 11.5 kg (25 lbs). No other species can rival the Dalmatian pelican in sheer mass except for a few birds.
Lake Kerkini's Pelicans have curly nape feathers, grey legs & silvery-white plumage, which will turn to a dingier brownish-grey colour in winter. Loose feathers around the forehead create a ‘w'-like shape seen over the bill. The bill has an orange-red pouch beneath & a yellow upper part, except in winter, when the bill is a somewhat duller yellow. When in flight, the Dalmatian pelican can be identified by the colouring of its wings, which are greyish-white with black tips.
This species has declined significantly throughout its range. An estimated 10-20,000 Dalmatian pelicans are left out of a population once thought to be millions. During the 20th century, a marked decline was allegedly due to habitat loss when swamps & other wetlands were drained for agricultural & economic uses.
It is hoped that the Dalmatian pelican can make a comeback with the creation of areas like Lake Kerkini.
Lake Kerkini is located in the Serres regional unit, which is part of the Greek region of Central Macedonia. It can be found about 16 miles north of the city of Serres & 67 miles north of the Greek capital Athens. The lake is an essential part of the larger eco-park of the same name created in 2000 to preserve the natural environment & its wealth of wildlife.
The lake is surrounded by steep hills & is home to many species of water birds & fish, including common Terns, Dalmatian Pelicans, & many other species of birds. The lake has also been used as a breeding ground for two game fish species, the carp & the bleak.
Which Photography Tours Does NaturesLens Schedule for photographing Lake Kerkini's Pelicans?
NaturesLens offers a range of photography holidays designed to allow photographers of all levels to add images of Lake Kerkini's Pelicans to their portfolio. These trips generally are conducted in January when the lake's wildlife is most active.
Our photography holidays allow photographers to capture stunning images of Lake Kerkini's Pelicans & several other species, including Flamingos.
At NaturesLens, we aim to provide photographers with several days of unforgettable Dalmatian Pelican photography that will leave them with beautiful, memorable images. Our trips are led by experienced wildlife photographers who are passionate about wildlife photography & are dedicated to helping photographers capture the best images possible.