As the largest wetlands area in Greece, the Amvrakikos or Ambracian Gulf supports a diverse eco-system that supports over 290 different species of birds, 75 of which are considered endangered. While several of these live year-round within the marshes of the gulf, the majority spend their winters here or come to mate and raise their offspring.
Some of the best locations within the gulf to observe these creatures include the Tsopeli Lagoon near the Louros river delta, the Tsoukalio lagoon, and the observatory just outside the village of Strongylli. The gulf is home to one of the largest colonies of wild pelicans in Europe as well as the largest population of ducks throughout the country. Winter is the ideal time to visit, during which you may see some of the following species: Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope), Northern Shoveler (Anas clyeata) Northern pintail (Anas acuta), Little Stint (Calidris minuta) Common Coot (Nemenius tenuirostris), Kentris Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Great Egret (Camerodius albus), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) and the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelcecanus crispus).
The Amvrakikos Gulf is protected by the Ramsar Convention though continues to be threatened by agricultural activity in the region as well as hunting and urbanization. The Amvrakikos Gulf Welcome and Information centre is located in the village of Strongyli. Here visitors can learn about the delicate ecosystem of the Gulf and the vital role it plays for the thousands of birds that can be found there throughout the year.
Situated on a small hill within walking distance of the eponymous village, the observatory features a telescope allowing visitors to spot one of the many species of birds in the area. Common species here include the Sardinian and sub-alpine Warbler as well as the Roufus Bush Robin. Larger raptors such as the Lesser Spotted Eagle and Marsh Harrier are seen less frequently.
The incredible beauty of Lake Ziros is an ideal backdrop for bird watching throughout the area. The large variety of plants, fish and small animals provide an ecosystem which supports a large and diverse population of birds. Throughout the year, spectators may encounter Little Grebes, Night Herons, Cormorants, Gulls and many more species that nest and feed throughout the lake.
The Acheron River Delta is included in the Natura 2000 program and is an area frequented by more than 100 different species of birds. It’s a wonderful place to encounter the natural habitat of these creatures, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot one of the many raptors such as spotted eagles and hawks that frequent river banks.
Due to the pollution of the Louros River, fewer and fewer birds have been seen here in recent years. Despite this fact, this river is still a great place to observe species such as Dalmatian Pelicans, Spoonbills, ducks, and black-winged stilts.
This incredible marsh lies in the northernmost section of the prefecture and spills into part of neighbouring Ioannina region as well. Despite the fact that it occupies a space between 100 -150 meters (depending on which season it is) the Kalodiki Marsh is an invaluable ecosystem with over 300 types of plants, 120 species of birds, 20 different mammals, 11 reptiles, 5 kinds of amphibians and several fish species. Kalodiki Marsh is part of the Natura 2000 initiative designed to protect such important ecological environments. The marsh presents an excellent stage for bird watching in an area that contains undeniable beauty. Observers have the opportunity of witnessing Night Herons, Black Herons, Golden Eagles, Vultures, Little Grebes, wild ducks, turtle doves, blackbirds, magpies and starlings.