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  • Μικρογαλιάντρα / Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla) (S. Mills)
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In the Evros Delta, I like to:

The birds of Evros Delta

In Evros Delta, 317 species of birds have been recorded; a number which is continually increasing, as monitoring becomes more intense and birdwatchers from all over the world visit the area more often.

What makes Evros Delta so interesting and why is it so important for the birds?

First of all, it is its geographic position which makes it so important. The Delta lies in northern Greece, a crossroad between three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Thus, species of all three continents are observed here. Typical species of Europe which their southern spreading range ends up here, like geese, African species, which their northern range or breeding area ends up in Delta or the wider area, like the Spur- winged Plover and Asian species which are found only in this area and not in the rest of Europe, like the Black- headed Bunting.
Another reason is the diversity and “wildness” of the landscape. Despite the extended drainage works and the loss of almost half the wetland, which was given to agriculture, and the pressure which some social groups bring claiming the use of the wetland for productive or other activities, the area stays in parts unchangeable and hospitable for the wild fauna. Areas with fresh, brackish and salt water, like the riparian forests, the wet meadows, the reed beds, the lagoons, the salt water marshes, the sandy islets comprise habitats for a big variety of birds.
As a result, birds find in Evros Delta the two most important things they need: food and shelter. The flooded areas in the wet seasons of the year and the big watery areas (lagoons, sea until 6 m. depth) provide plenty of food to the water birds and waders and, by extension, to their predators. The protected area, which includes all the natural areas of the wetland, offers safety from human-caused dangers.
It has been proved, by monitoring and ringing, that Evros Delta is a very important ring in the chain of wetlands which birds use as they migrate from Africa to Europe and reversely, and also as they move looking for food and shelter. This part is very important and very crucial for their living.

Wintering

In winter, Evros Delta shelters thousands of birds which have come here from the north to spend the cold season in milder climate. Areas like the lagoons, the wet meadows and the flooded areas are overrun for several months by water birds the voices of which are heard everywhere. Thousands of ducks are observed that time, the most common of which are the Mallard, the Teal, the Wigeon, the Coot, the Pintail and the Shoveler. In the same areas, swans are observed (Mute Swan, Whooper Swan and Bewick’s Swan). In the meadows, geese are feeding during the whole day; thousands of White-fronted Geese, almost all the natural breeding population of Lesser White-fronted-Goose, Red-breasted goose and Greylag Goose.
At the same time of the year, hundreds of Flamingos are observed in salt water areas, Great White Egrets and Grey Herons in all watery areas, along with Avocets, Oystercatchers, Pygmy Cormorants, grebes, pelicans and sandpipers.
Winter is the season with the most species of raptors in the Delta. Tens of eagles such as Spotted Eagles, Imperial Eagles and White-tailed Eagles and smaller raptors, such as Marsh Harriers, Hen Harriers and Buzzards are flying around or standing on a tree, waiting for the right chance to attack to one of the many quarries.

Migration

In spring, Evros Delta hosts large populations of birds which move from Africa to Europe. During this trip, they stop in the Delta to rest and feed in the rich and secure biotopes of the wetland and, most of them, continue for the breeding sites. This season is usually wet end the temporary fresh water wetlands and the shallow lagoons host thousands of waders, such as Black-winged Stilts, plovers, stints, snipes, terns, swallows and many passerines. Other species observed during the spring migration are the White Stork, the Black Stork, the White and Dalmatian Pelican, theGarganey, the Ferruginous Duck, the Lesser spotted Eagle and Black-tailed Godwit.

Breeding

There are only few species left in Evros Delta which still breed in the wetland as most of their suitable biotopes have shrunk. Already by the 1970’s, many important species of birds had stopped breeding and, since then, they are only observed during the migration or the summer. However, there are some important species which still breed in the Delta, such as the Cormorant, the Grey Heron, the Purple Heron, the Ruddy Shelduck, the Shelduck, the Mallard, the Short-toed Eagle, the White-tailed Eagle, the Marsh Harrier, the Oystercatcher, theBlack-winged Stilt, the Avocet, the Spur-winged Plover, the Kingfisher, the Bee Eater, the Collared Pratincole and the Little Tern.

 Download the list of birds in Evros Delta

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