Lake Skadar

Squacco Heron Ardeola rallied ©Emma Heywood Website
Birding Lake Skadar

Lake Skadar, a protected National Park, is a birding hotspot with more than 280 species and up to 200,000 birds overwintering on the lake. This vast expanse of freshwater and wetlands, ranging from 370 to 530 square kilometres in size as the result a natural winter flooding phenomenon, plays host to a myriad of water birds including Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron and several species of marsh terns. Its Mediterranean rocky hinterland, olive groves and scrub are home to species including Rock Partridge, Olive-tree Warbler and Black-eared Wheatear.Lake Skadar is perhaps most famous as one of the few nesting sites in the world of the rare and endangered Dalmatian Pelican, although breeding pairs are few in number. Other rare species breeding here include the Ferruginous Duck.The lake became a protected National Park in 1983 and has two bird reserves which are recognised as an International Birding Area – Manastirska Tapija and Pančeva oka.

Due to the incredible biodiversity attracted by the lake’s mix of habitats and the need for conservation, Lake Skadar was added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 1996. Late in 2011, it was formally nominated for UNESCO protection.On average the lake is 44km long, 10km wide and 8 metres deep, although its deepest point, a spring at Raduš, is a crypto-depression (below sea level) at more than 60 metres depth. With approximately 500 km 2 during the autumn/winter/spring period, Skadar lake becomes one of the leading transition routes for migratory species of Siberia, and Central and East Europe to and from Africa as well as one of the largest freshwater basins the birds use for resting and renewing of energy during migration.

More than one million European and Asian birds fly over Lake Skadar and its connected deltas during spring and winter migration and it is one of Europe’s top five sites for wintering birds. Local ornithologists compare its significance in terms of the quality and quantity of avifauna as equal to the Danube delta, Po delta, Guadalquivir and Camargue.Beside species already mentioned, there are significant colonies of herons: Little Egret, Grey Heron and in recent years also Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret.Skadar Lake is one of the most important European and world breeding sites for Whiskered Term (more than 600 pairs). There are also a number of grebe species.

Montenegro Page

Museums & Universities
  • Lake Skadar-Shkodra Integrated Ecosystem Management

    Research Project
    The overall objective of the project would be to assist the Governments of Albania and Montenegro in achieving a more sustainable use of the natural resources of the Lake Shkoder and its watershed.

Abbreviations Key

  • Lake Skadar

    InformationSatellite View
    The Montenegrin part of the lake and its surrounding area were declared a national park in 1983. It is one of the largest bird reserves in Europe, having 270 bird species, among which are some of the last pelicans in Europe, and thus popular with birders. The lake also contains habitats of seagulls and herons and is abundant in fish, especially in carp, bleak and eel. Of the 34 native fish species, 7 are endemic to Lake Skadar…
Trip Reports
  • 1997 [01 January] - Dragan Simic

    We had barely started across the lake, when a tree rose up in front of the prow of our boat, with 25 Pygmy Cormorant resting in its branches. Pygmy Cormorant is highly restricted range species, its total population estimated between 50,000 to 60,000. This lake is one of two locations in now-day Yugoslavia where these birds breed….
Places to Stay
  • Villa Miela

    Prepare to be seduced by Villa Miela, the only luxury villa accommodation within the borders of Lake Skadar National Park. Offering panoramic views and a prime location near Virpazar, it's ideal for families, couples and groups of friends…
Other Links
  • About Lake Skadar

    Webpage Lake Skadar is a wild wonder waiting to be explored. A vast freshwater lake straddling the borders of Albania and Montenegro and surrounded by dramatic karst mountains, its mirrored waters, rocky shores and wetlands play host to a myriad of wildlife with more than 260 species of birds, traditional fishing villages, islet monasteries and pristine beaches…

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