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Galicica National Park and Lakes Ohrid and Prespa

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[edit] Overview

In the far south-wsest of Macedonia this national park lies between the two large mountain lakes of Ohrid, which extends over the border into Albania, and Prespa which is shared with both Albania and Greece.

The park itself consists of rugged terrain, the southern spur of the Dinaric Mountains. Around the lakes much of the land is farmed or scrub with mixed deciduous woodland at lower levels, above which are dense oak and beechwoods and Macedonian Pine forest and above the treeline is open grazing meadowland.

The park also includes part of the shore of Lake Prespa and the highest point at 2,600m is Mt Galicica. Like Prespa the nearby Lake Ohrid is an important breeding, passage and wintering site for waterbirds and a good range of woodland and mountain birds can be seen in the park between the huge lakes.

There are few places where such a mix of montane, forest, Mediterranean and wetland birds can be seen within such a small area.

[edit] Birds

[edit] Notable Species

Like the Greek park of Prespa (see Mikri Prespa National Park) the lakes are (or were) an important breeding and wintering site for Pygmy Cormorant and both species of pelican also occur although their breeding status is uncertain.

Members of the heron family thrive here with Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Egret and Great White Egret and Little Bittern and Great Bittern all present at various times of the year as well as Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill and storks.

Ferruginous Duck occur all year in internationally important numbers joined by Red-crested Pochard and many other species in winter. Prespa is the southernmost breeding site in Europe for Goosander although numbers are very small.

Geese, swans grebes and Great Cormorant all occur in winter and Eurasian Coot can reach several tens of thousands on Lake Ohrid. Western Marsh Harrier, Little Crake, Baillon's Crake, and Moustached Warbler are among the many reedbed birds of the two lakes and all three marsh terns and a host of waders occur on passage.

A wide range of raptors is found in the area including Short-toed Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle, harriers, kites, accipiters and European Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzardand Long-legged Buzzard.

In the surrounding farmland, forest and rocky hills there are many south-eastern species of particular interest to Western European birders such as Rock Partridge and Syrian Woodpecker and the Mediterranean element to the area's birdlife is obvious with European Bee-eater, European Roller, Wryneck and Eurasian Scops Owl. As well as Syrian Woodpecker the woodpeckers of the park and its surroundings include Green Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Passerines include south-eastern specialities such as Semi-collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit and Western Rock Nuthatch, warblers including Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Orphean Warbler and Eastern Bonelli's Warbler and buntings such as Cretzschmar's Bunting, Rock Bunting and Black-headed Bunting.

[edit] Check-list

Birds you can see here include:

Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Great Bittern, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Mute Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Goosander, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Osprey, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Hazel Grouse, Rock Partridge, Grey Partridge, Common Quail, Common Pheasant, Water Rail, Little Crake, Baillon's Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Stock Dove, Rock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Cuckoo, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Eurasian Scops Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl, European Nightjar, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Green Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Sand Martin, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Common Dipper, Common Wren, Alpine Accentor, Dunnock, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Savi's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Barred Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Bearded Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Sombre Tit, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Western Rock Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Common Jay, Common Magpie, Alpine Chough, Eurasian Jackdaw, Rook, Hooded Crow, Northern Raven, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Linnet, Common Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Rock Bunting, Yellowhammer, Cirl Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Black-headed Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting

[edit] Other Wildlife

Mammals still present in the area include a few Brown Bears Ursus arctos and Grey Wolves Canis lupus, and Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Otter Lutra lutra, Wild Boar Sus scrofa and Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus.

Reptiles are well represented and the small island of Golem Grad in Lake Prespa has two species of tortoise. Amphibians include Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata, European Treefrog Hyla arborea, Eastern Spadefoot Pelobates syriacus and Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra.

In addition, the ancient Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes in Europe, has many endemic aquatic plants and invertebrates and a unique form of trout.

[edit] Site Information

Prior to the Yugoslavian conflicts of the 1990s this was a popular destination for more adventurous birders and it is to be hoped that the wars have not damaged the area's birdlife excessively. However, there are also the usual problems of development, pollution and over-exploitation that such areas suffer and there is little recent information regarding birding in the region.

[edit] Areas of Interest

To do

[edit] Access and Facilities

The towns of Ohrid and Struga on the shores of Ohrid form good bases for exploring this region. Hopefully the conflicts in this region have abated and the area can now once again be visited by birders.

[edit] Contact Details

To do

[edit] External Links

Galicia National Park English page under construction October 2008

Content and images originally posted by Steve


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