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Publication number 79. Stichting WIWO

Title: Waterbirds in Lake Orumieh, Iran, September 2000
Authors: Roland Jalving & René Vos
Publication date: 2003


Between 13 and 30 September 2000, a waterbird census of Lake Orumieh and bordering marshes was carried out. The fieldwork was done by a team of WIWO (Working Group International Waterbird and Wetland Research, The Netherlands), in good cooperation with the Department of Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The main pupose of the project was to update the information of the value of the wetlands of North-West Iran for migrating waterbirds, since little research has been carried out there after the 1970's.

The research area comprised of Lake Orumieh and its surrounding areas, including some rivermouths and marsh areas (Eslamabad wetland) And lake Shorgul and Yadegarlu. Part of this area is designated as National Park. The conditions during the survey were not optimal. Several of the visited wetlands in the area were partly or totally dried up and with low numbers of waterbirds.

Eslamabad Wetland, a picture taken from the west

In total 67 waterbird species were observed. Numbers of seven species meet the Ramsar criteria listed by Rose and Scott (1997): Black-necked Grebe, Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull, Avocet and Armenian Gull, which underlines the value of the area for migrating waterbirds.

Most numerous species was Black-necked Grebe, with a total of 24,921 at Lake Orumieh. Armenian Gull (1,253) and Slender-billed Gull (2,907) were also particular common. Greater Flamingo was very common, with a total of 15,993, almost exclusively found at the mudflats and shallows of Lake Orumieh. These parts were also attractive to Shelducks, of which 14,521 were counted. Avocet, totalling 6,599, appeared to be the most common wader.

Eslamabad Wetland, the canal outlet meandering towards the Orumieh lake

Two species in danger of extinction according to IUCN criteria (Birdlife Internatiol 2000 "Threatened birds of the world") were observed. The vulnerable Marbled Teal was observed at Gorigol and at least 21 individuals of the endangered White-headed Duck were counted at Shorgul. Among these White-headed Ducks we observed one femal with three pulli, suggesting breeding nearby.

Our results show significant numbers for bird species from various guilds in the Wetlands of Northwestern Iran in Autumn. Water level fluctuations are frequent in this area, and regular monitoring of bird numbers in response to this water level change should be the next step in understanding the value of this area for migratory waterfowl.

The team, surveying the dried-up salt and mudflats

The report contains:
  • Summary and introduction
  • Description of the study area
  • Methodology and results
  • Discussion, conclusions and recommendations
  • Appendices with list of observations of other bird species and a history of waterlevels of Lake Orumieh