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Kelbia Lake - BirdForum Opus

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After Lake Ichkeul this is probably the most important wetland in Tunisia for birds. It varies greatly in size and can be completely dry or a large, shallow lake with a dense growth of emergent vegetation. At its maximum the lake and marshes covers about 14,000h, of which 8,000ha are protected as a nature reserve, and lies about 20km inland.

In wet years the slightly brackish lake has an excellent range of wetland breeding birds and attracts large numbers of waders during passage periods but it may be dry for years at a time.

At peak times the lake may attract more than a quarter of a million birds but drying out has become more frequent in recent years due to the damming of the feeder rivers. The surrounding land is good for various arid desert birds.


Notable Species

The specialities of the lake are Western Swamphen, Marbled Duck and White-headed Duck all of which breed on a more or less regular basis.

Also breeding here are Little Egret and Squacco Heron, Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt and Pied Avocet with Gull-billed Tern on occasion and Greater Flamingo has bred. Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Moustached Warbler, and Great Reed Warbler breed in the dense vegetation around the lake and Greater Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark and Thekla Lark in the immediate area. Spectacled Warbler is also present and Marmora's Warbler occurs in winter.

Further afield in the arid areas around the lake are Stone-curlew, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Cream-coloured Courser are possible.

Passage waders include such species as Kentish Plover, Eurasian Dotterel and Ruff, Marsh Sandpiper and Temminck's Stint and Little Stint among many others. Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis and Common Crane (up to 5,000 recorded) can also be seen here outside the breeding season and passage and winter raptors may include Bonelli's Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon and Lanner Falcon.

A wide range of waterfowl species occurs in winter when conditions are suitable including Ferruginous Duck. Slender-billed Gull is common, particularly in spring.


Birds you can see here include:

Squacco Heron, Little Egret, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Greylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, White-headed Duck, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli's Eagle, Osprey, Red-footed Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcon, Water Rail, Western Swamphen, Common Crane, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Stone-curlew, Cream-coloured Courser, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Dotterel, Eurasian Golden Plover, Temminck's Stint, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Owl, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Water Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, Whinchat, Black-eared Wheatear, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Marmora's Warbler, Spectacled Warbler

Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

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Areas of Interest

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Access and Facilities

The lake can best be viewed at the north-western corner near the junction of the GP2 and MC48 and walking southwards.

Accommodation is plentiful in the tourist centres of the Gulf of Hammamet such as Hammamet, Nabeul, Sousse and Monastir all of which are only a short drive away. A package holiday at one of these destinations is an ideal and inexpensive way to explore Kelbia.

Contact Details

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External Links

IBA - Kelbia Lake description

Content and images originally posted by Steve