birdwatching inGizil Aghaj National Park
A nearly 100,000-hectare protected area by the Caspian Sea consisting of forest and wetlands, Gizil Aghaj National Park serves as a crucial resting and refuelling spot for seabirds migrating along the Caspian coastline. Here the mixed landscape of wetlands, reedbeds and shallow lagoons is home to millions of birds, mainly from October to May, with the avian show changing constantly throughout the year. Waterbirds are present in especially large numbers, including cormorants, pelicans, spoonbills, geese (sometimes the rare Lesser White-fronted Goose), herons, waders and ducks. Gizil Aghaj was included in the Ramsar List of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1975. There’s a brand-new Tourism Information Centre where you can learn all about the park. To really explore it you’ll need a guide, but note that some of the best birdwatching spots can easily be visited just outside the park proper, to the south.
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
Pallas’s Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)
Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
When to visit:
There are particularly high numbers of birds in winter but a greater variety of species in autumn and spring. It’s good from October to May.
Where to stay:
Masalli Hotel (+994709513086) in Masalli town is comfortable, has a good restaurant and is only 3km from the start of the birdwatching area. The Mandarin hotel (+994505478383) is located on the old road to Lankaran, 9km from the settlement of Liman and 27km from the national park entrance. Khan Lankaran (+994508101056) hotel and restaurant, located on the edge of Lankaran city, is an authentic stay some 28km from the national park entrance. More good hotels can be found in Lankaran city.