Updated: Mar 31, 2021
The Gialova Lagoon is a very important wildlife sanctuary and the southernmost international migratory station for birds in the Balkans. Specifically, 16 species of habitats, 271 species of birds, 34 species of reptiles, 28 species of mammals and 16 species of fish have been recorded in the area. Of the 271 bird species observed in the area so far, 81 are protected. The area is also home to the extremely rare endangered African chameleon.
Gialova is part of the European Network NATURA 2000 while the wider area has been designated as a Special Protection Zone (GR2550008) and a Site of Community Importance (GR2550004). Unfortunately, the above descriptions do not mean anything within the Greek borders, since the Greek governments have not taken any action in the last 20 years to protect the habitats of the Greek land.
The Lagoon is also called Divari, a word that comes from the Latin "vivarium" which means fish farm. Even today, local fishermen use the lagoon for fishing, and it is the only body that protects the area from illegal hunting and fishing.
The lagoon to the south borders with the bay of Navarino and to the northwest with the dreamy beach of Voidokilia. Looking towards the sea, the eye falls on the steep slopes of Sfaktiria, an elongated island that embraces the bay and makes it look like a lake. A thin strip of road crosses the wetland from one end to the other. In the center of the wetland is the observatory, from which one can observe the birds in all directions.
The narrow road which crosses the wetland and leads to the observatory. Sfaktiria island and Navarino bay in the background.
Early in the morning, walking to the observatory.
Western marsh-harriers are common in the area and thas easy to be observed. The observatory gives the best potential as it is build high enough above the reeds. With some patience you can admire their flying ability from a quite close distance.
Gialova is rich in wildlife and it is a sensitive habitat. According to the Hellenic Ornithological Society (https://www.ornithologiki.gr) the human activities that threaten biodiversity and disturb the delicate balance of the wetland ecosystem are:
The disturbance of the aquatic ecosystem of the lagoon water pumped for crops
lack of awareness of visitors about the importance of wetlands for the survival of many rare species
the decline of biodiversity by the encroachment of wetland areas and conversion to farmland
the disturbance of birds during the breeding season and the killing or collection of animals, especially reptiles.
The free access of vehicles to sensitive areas such as dunes and the destruction of chameleon nests and vegetation.
The dumping of rubble and garbage and the further degradation of the aesthetic value of the area.
I believe that the only way to protect nature in the future is to inform and raise awareness of people. If you are near a wildlife habitat, on your vacation or on a trip, take some time to visit them, learn about them and share your experience with your people . In this way more and more will discover the magic of nature and its significance.
I hope you have enjoy this post!
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Thanks for birding around here!