My Messinia

Mad about the muddy and moody Gialova lagoon

SAM_2429otvThe Gialova lagoon is a true paradise on earth. It is so picturesque. As you walk by, the terrain changes often and completely, from sand to rock, from grass to trees, from flat to high and the eye travels too…from green sweet waters to the deeper and darker sea, from the old castle to the open horizon, from the far away city of Pylos to the rounded and empty beach of Voidokilia. There isn’t a dull moment either for the foot or for the eye.SAM_2493SAM_2502In winter time with the sporadic yet rich rains showers the grounds become muddy and there is not a single “walking” soul at the Gialova lagoon …but there are always thousands of souls flying right above it…SAM_2396The Gialova lagoon is one of the most important wetlands in Europe as it constitutes the southernmost migratory station of birds in the Balkans to and from Africa.SAM_2405otvSAM_2476The Lagoon is located 7 km north of the little town Pylos, between the seaside settlement Gialova and Voidokilia cove, in an area of ​​6,000 acres. It is also known as Divari (from the Latin word “vivarium”). Its greater depth does not exceed 4 meters. 254 types of birds find shelter here:  herons, cormorants, kestrels, seagulls, flamingos, ospreys, imperial eagles and other wading birds.SAM_2536otvThe observing station of the Ornithological Society at the Gialova Lagoon enables visitors to learn and observe this shallow lake that has been declared an area Natura 2000.SAM_2531SAM_2460So in total in winter there are about 20,000 birds at the lagoon. Ducks and coots are the most numerous birds, but there are other interesting species too. Over 500 herons – great white egrets, little egrets and grey herons – overwinter at the lagoon.SAM_2423

These birds have learned to exploit the skills of the Cormorants to catch fish. Cormorants fish in a large flock in the canals of the wetland moving along a kind of front line. The birds in the back of the flock fly over the front ones and immediately plunge to chase and catch the fish, while other birds will fly over them to continue this “fishing roll”. Generally this is done first along the edges of the lagoon and then continued in the canals of the marsh, where by far they catch most of the fish. In this feast the herons just have to stand on the edges of the canals waiting to catch the frightened fishes that manage to escape the Cormorants. This incredible show goes on all morning, and can’t be missed by visitors!
In winter there can be three species of eagles: imperial eagle, spotted eagle and osprey. Many marsh and hen harriers join them. Flamingos are present in the wetland all year long, About 10 bitterns are there in winter, and can be seen flying above the reed-bed especially just before dusk. Spring migration begins already by the end of February.
So there is still time to visit this muddy and moody winter paradise….SAM_2565

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