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Lake Kerkini

It's simple - Lake Kerkini offers some of the most accessible, and best, opportunities for both birding and bird photography in Europe. As the year unfolds January and February can be cold, and, wildfowl numbers reach their peak with over 20 000 Pochard often with a handful of Red-cresteds. Spotted and White-tailed Eagles are frequently seen, Great White Egrets are everywhere. Dalmatian Pelicans are looking their very best and Cranes are increasingly arriving to spend the winter here, with 28 in February '13.

Migration begins in early March, with the arrival of pioneering Garganey and Osprey. White Storks arrive towards the end of the month. Migration gathers steam through April into early May, when every bush seems to hold warblers. Glossy Ibis are regular and there can be over a thousand of each species of pelican.

The early summer sees the drowned forest alive with herons and egrets. Golden Orioles sing in the poplars and Bee-eaters and Rollers sit on the wires. Great Spotted Cuckoo bred in 2010.

Returning wader migration begins as early as late June, continuing into October, although by then numbers are small. The autumn sees the water level at its lowest, exposing acres of mud, particularly at Mandraki and along the eastern embankment. This is attractive to waders but they are often some considerable distance away. Collared Pratincole pass through in good numbers in early autumn.  Pelican numbers build again as Dalmatians arrive to spend the winter and Whites stop off on passage.

October typically sees the Lesser-spotted Eagles replaced by Spotteds. The remaining months bring the ducks back, together with Lesser White-fronted Geese, which spend time here before moving on south-east to the Evros delta.

In the winter of 2007 - 2008 the total number of birds on the lake was counted at just over 41000.

There is also great birding to be had in the nearby hills, with Long-legged Buzzard, Rock Nuthatch, Calandra Lark, Subalpine and Olive-tree Warblers. Nearby woods hold Black, White-backed, Middle-spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers and the mountains to the east have Capercaillie, Nutcracker, Rock Thrush, Wryneck, Semi-collared Flycatcher and Barred Warbler.


Following heavy rains in the winter of 2010 - 2011, the Strimonas River changed its course to the south of the Vironia bridge, with the result that it enters the lake at an earlier point. This has cut through the embankment at site 3 in the site guide where it can now be a little tricky to turn the car around if there's been recent rain.

The new river channel has had a detrimental effect on birdwatching at site 4. Previously the shallow waters by the embankment were a favourite spawning ground for carp in spring, bringing huge feeding frenzies of pelicans, cormorants, herons and egrets close to shore. The new river course means that as the river enters the lake earlier the spawning grounds have gone as a result of the strong current.

Update Update!

Work to return the river to its previous course was completed in October 2014 and it remains to be seen whether site 4 regains its former birding quality.

Answers to Birdfair Quiz!

  1. Honey Buzzard
  2. Black-headed Bunting
  3. Woodchat Shrike
  4. Hoopoe
  5. Long-legged Buzzard
  6. Collared Pratincole
  7. Tawny Pipit
  8. Golden Oriole
  9. Calandra Lark
  10. Spur-winged Plover
  11. Rock Thrush
  12. Broad-billed Sandpiper
  13. Shore Lark
  14. Booted Eagle
  15. Dalmatian Pelican
  16. Squacco Heron
  17. Cuckoo
  18. Lesser Kestrel
  19. Glossy Ibis
  20. Beeeater
  21. Blue Rock Thrush
  22. Ferruginous Duck
  23. Egyptian Vulture
  24. Grey-headed Woodpecker
  25. Black-necked Grebe
  26. Black Tern
  27. Montagu’s Harrier
  28. Levant Sparrowhawk
  29. Spanish Sparrow
  30. Black Woodpecker
  31. Black Vulture
  32. Little Bittern
  33. Red-footed Falcon
  34. White Stork
  35. White Pelican
  36. Black-eared Wheatear


How many did you get? Which did you find most difficult? Let us know your thoughts!

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Kerkini September/October 2013

Around 5,500 Cormorants form  large groups  and look for their food in various parts of the lake but mainly in the mouth of the river.

The 3,000 White Pelicnas comprise  the greatest number we have ever written down for the last years ( possibly the greatest number that has ever been recorded in Greece) .

The Dalmatian Pelicans have been more than 500 the same period of time.

There have also been two absent minded Squacco Herons , two young  Purple Herons and three Night Herons who are a bit late for their migration.

We could also spot the last Glossy Ibis (14) at the Mandraki region and almost  500 Spoonbills in the shallow waters of the east and west part of the lake.

A White Stork and  six Black Storks wander around the old riverbed of Strimonas river  and the riverside forest and ten Mute Swans at the Trigono area.

The number of  Greylag Geese remains 27 while there are ducks of every kind  that someone can notice this time of season. 

As prey birds are concerned the White-tailed Eagles, the last Lesser Spotted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles and  Booted Eagles as well as  Marsh Harriers, Peregrines and other smaller prey birds  (Sparrowhawks, Goshawks, Kestrel etc) look for their food around the lake and mainly in the north part of the lake while in the forest there are  more than fifteen Crows.

   There are more than 4000  Coots , almost 800 Avocets , some hundreds of  Lapwings and very many riverside birds in the east and west  part of the mouth of Strimonas river. There are also more than 500 Yellow-legged Gulls, more than 6,000  Black-headed Gulls  and  2500 Flamingos.

    Two Cranes continue to stay in the same region up till now and along go three  Egyptian Geese (they probably escaped from a park).

The first six  Spotted Eagles presented themselves at the National  park on 6 October .The same day we had the arrival of  the first group of 29 Lesser White-fronted Geese –lwfg-(among them a family with  5 young birds) on the northeastern part of the lake. This date has been  the earliest arrival of this species for the last few years in the region.

The White Pelicans gather in large groups and try to find rising currents to migrate.

On 8 October another group of  5 lwfg was added to the existing population that has now reached the  number of 34.

In the middle of October we noticed  an adult pair of  White-tailed Eagle and a second pair  with an adult and subadult individual.


  The Spotted Eagles have been already more than  ten maybe twelve individuals while the  Marsh Harriers have been of a similar number.

A group of around 22 lwfg arrived at the region and is added to the existing group. The number of the species has reached 56 up till now.

After the middle of October we observed the presence of various smaller prey birds like Hen Harriers, Merlin and one or two passing by  Hobby.

The presence of  Rock Partridges, Woodcocks and a few Thrushes has been noticed on Belles mountain.

 Around the end of October the first pair of  Red-crested Pochards  appeared at the region Trigono and one young  delayed but very friendly Cattle Egret presented itself and has remained in the region  near a herd of cows daily.

Everyday around 3000  Flamingos  feed themselves  in the east embankment.

Twelve Glossy Ibis remain in the region and on  28 October we noticed for the first time a group of around 110 White-fronted Geese and the first 6 Bewick’s Swans swimming in the waters of our lake.

The first Lesser White-fronted Geese arrived on 5th, with a group of 10, and these increased to 56 on 20th.

Thanks to the Lake Kerkini Management Authority for this report.

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