Feature: Birdwatching & the Gialova Lagoon

The best, and most accessible, birdwatching site in the Peloponnese is the Gialova Lagoon. Between September and March the lagoon is home to up to 20,000 assorted waterbirds, while many others pause here on their spring migration between Africa and Eastern Europe.

The Hellenic Ornithological Society has recorded here 265 of around 400 species found in Greece, including 79 protected species, 10 species of duck and eight types of heron. Waders descend in their thousands, along with flamingos and glossy ibises. Birds of prey include the internationally threatened imperial eagle, plus ospreys, peregrine falcons and harriers. Birds aside, 28 types of mammal and 26 species of reptile also call the lagoon's environs home.

The lagoon and associated wetlands cover 700 hectares at the northern end of Navarino Bay, separated from the bay by a narrow spit of land leading out to Koryphasion Hill. They are fed by two freshwater streams that flow into the reed beds on the northern and eastern flanks of the lagoon and empty into Navarino Bay, below Koryphasion Hill.

The wetlands and surrounding coastal habitats were declared a protected area in 1997. The old pump house has been converted into an information centre, sometimes staffed by volunteers in summer, and is the starting point for a walking trail that guides visitors through a range of habitats.