The National Park of Evros Delta formed at the mouth of the Evros River creates an extensive delta of international ecological importance. The water and the debris of the river, together with the action of the sea, continuously form a complex Delta. In Evros Delta hundreds of thousands of birds find shelter and food all year round.
Evros Delta constitutes one of the most important wetlands, not only in Greece but also in Europe. A surface area of 9.500 ha (8.000 ha of land and 1.500 ha of water) has been included in the list of protected wetlands of the International Ramsar Convention (1971), because it hosts important bird species. Furthermore, the Evros Delta is characterized as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and is proposed as a Site of Community Importance (pSCI) in the Natura 2000 network (according to Directives 79/409/EEC and 92/43/EEC, respectively).
In Evros Delta 7 basic unities of biotopes can be distinguished. In each one of them a specific type of vegetation corresponds, depending on the interaction of various factors like the type of soil, the microclimate, the presence of fresh or salt water, etc. Starting from the north where the river is divided in two branches and ending to the sea, one can distinguish the following characteristic biotopes.
- Riverine vegetation
- Wet meadows with Juncus
- Submerged vegetation of salt or brackish waters
- Lagoon and fresh water vegetation
- Halophytic vegetation
- Vegetation of sandy islets
In the Evros Delta 300 flora species are reported. On the banks of the river and streams grow trees as sycamores, willows, poplars and alders. Within the channels we see lilies and floating water chestnuts, meadows irises and orchids, while at coasts and sandy islets grow plants with few water requirements like giant Elymos and sea lily. Most impressive though are the thrifts, which during fall they get a deep red color, carpeting the banks of lagoons and salt marshes.
At least 40 species of mammals live in Evros Delta. In fresh water canals the Otter (Lutra lutra) is observed. In the wider area of the wetland the Wildcat (Felis silvestris), the Fox (Vulpes vulpes), the Marten (Martes foina), the Weasel (Mustela nivialis) and the Badger (Meles meles) live. In the fields and meadows the Hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), the Souslik (Citellus citellus) and other species are observed. Seven species of amphibians have been recorded in Evros Delta. In wet places and in the water, we meet two species of frog (Rana ridibunda and Rana dalmatina). The Tree frog (Hyla arborea) is mostly observed hooked in trees, reeds or leaves. In more dry places Bufo viridis and Bufo bufo are observed. 21 species of reptiles have been recorded in the wetland of Evros Delta. They are observed in land and in water. Two species of terrapins are common (Mauremys caspica and Emys orbicularis) as well as watersnakes of the species Natrix tessellata. In Evros River and the adjustent area, 46 species of fish have been recorded. Many of these species have a commercial value for the inhabitants of the area, like the Sole, the Eel, etc.
In Evros Delta, 317 species of birds have been recorded; a number which is continually increasing, as monitoring becomes more intense and birdwatchers from all over the world visit the area more often. There are two main reason that makes Evros Delta so interesting so important for the birds. First of all, it is its geographic position which makes it so important. The Delta lies in northern Greece, a crossroad between three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Thus, species of all three continents are observed here. Typical species of Europe which their southern spreading range ends up here, like geese, African species, which their northern range or breeding area ends up in Delta or the wider area, like the Spur- winged Plover and Asian species which are found only in this area and not in the rest of Europe, like the Black- headed Bunting.
Another reason is the diversity and “wildness” of the landscape. Despite the extended drainage works and the loss of almost half the wetland, which was given to agriculture, and the pressure which some social groups bring claiming the use of the wetland for productive or other activities, the area stays in parts unchangeable and hospitable for the wild fauna. Areas with fresh, brackish and salt water, like the riparian forests, the wet meadows, the reed beds, the lagoons, the salt water marshes, the sandy islets comprise habitats for a big variety of birds.
As a result, birds find in Evros Delta the two most important things they need: food and shelter. The flooded areas in the wet seasons of the year and the big watery areas (lagoons, sea until 6 m. depth) provide plenty of food to the water birds and waders and, by extension, to their predators. The protected area, which includes all the natural areas of the wetland, offers safety from human-caused dangers.
It has been proved, by monitoring and ringing, that Evros Delta is a very important ring in the chain of wetlands which birds use as they migrate from Africa to Europe and reversely, and also as they move looking for food and shelter. This part is very important and very crucial for their living.
In winter, Evros Delta shelters thousands of birds which have come here from the north to spend the cold season in milder climate. Areas like the lagoons, the wet meadows and the flooded areas are overrun for several months by water birds the voices of which are heard everywhere. Thousands of ducks are observed that time, the most common of which are the Mallard, the Teal, the Wigeon, the Coot, the Pintail and the Shoveler. In the same areas, swans are observed (Mute Swan, Whooper Swan and Bewick’s Swan). In the meadows, geese are feeding during the whole day; thousands of White-fronted Geese, almost all the natural breeding population of Lesser White-fronted-Goose, Red-breasted goose and Greylag Goose.
At the same time of the year, hundreds of Flamingos are observed in salt water areas, Great White Egrets and Grey Herons in all watery areas, along with Avocets, Oystercatchers, Pygmy Cormorants, grebes, pelicans and sandpipers.
Winter is the season with the most species of raptors in the Delta. Tens of eagles such as Spotted Eagles, Imperial Eagles and White-tailed Eagles and smaller raptors, such as Marsh Harriers, Hen Harriers and Buzzards are flying around or standing on a tree, waiting for the right chance to attack to one of the many quarries.
In spring, Evros Delta hosts large populations of birds which move from Africa to Europe. During this trip, they stop in the Delta to rest and feed in the rich and secure biotopes of the wetland and, most of them, continue for the breeding sites. This season is usually wet end the temporary fresh water wetlands and the shallow lagoons host thousands of waders, such as Black-winged Stilts, plovers, stints, snipes, terns, swallows and many passerines. Other species observed during the spring migration are the White Stork, the Black Stork, the White and Dalmatian Pelican, theGarganey, the Ferruginous Duck, the Lesser spotted Eagle and Black-tailed Godwit.
There are only few species left in Evros Delta which still breed in the wetland as most of their suitable biotopes have shrunk. Already by the 1970’s, many important species of birds had stopped breeding and, since then, they are only observed during the migration or the summer. However, there are some important species which still breed in the Delta, such as the Cormorant, the Grey Heron, the Purple Heron, the Ruddy Shelduck, the Shelduck, the Mallard, the Short-toed Eagle, the White-tailed Eagle, the Marsh Harrier, the Oystercatcher, theBlack-winged Stilt, the Avocet, the Spur-winged Plover, the Kingfisher, the Bee Eater, the Collared Pratincole and the Little Tern.
Address: Loutra Traianoupolis
Τ.: +30 25510 61000
The National Park of Dadia
The National Park of Dadia – Lefkimi – Soufli is one of the most important protected areas at national, european and international level. It is one of the first areas in Greece that were defined as protected. Here live and thrive many species of flora and fauna of the Balkan Peninsula, Europe and Asia. The mosaic landscape shaped by pine and oak forests, which are interrupted by clearings, pastures and cropland is the ideal environment for birds of prey. The National Park accommodates three of the four species of vulture Europe (Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture and), and hosts the only vulture colony in the Balkans.
This area is one of the last refuges of the winged world of Europe. 36 species of diurnal raptors (from a total of 38 European countries) have been observed here. Especially the black vulture, with a wingspan of up to 3 m., who can be found solely here and in central Spain. Moreover, they have been a total of 219 species of birds, 40 species of reptiles and amphibians and 48 species of mammals (wild boars, foxes, badgers, otters, deer, hares, wolves, European ground squirrel, bats, squirrels, etc.). Interesting is also the flora of wildflowers, including irises, paeonia and ladaries, shrubs, as arbutus, heather, bushes and hazels and big trees like pines, oaks, willows, sycamores, beeches, gabbro, alder and maple.
At the village of Dadia, in the center of the protected area, is located the Ecotourism information center with permanent exhibitions and film projections, guest capacity of 60 beds, bar and shop. There is a small bus that takes the guests on a closed plot in the forest where they can see the feeding of the predators. For this purpose, there are available binoculars and telescopes.
Address: Dadia Information Center
Τ.: + 30 25540 32209
Vathres (naturally formed freshwater pools)
Water runs abundant in Samothrace; hundreds of small streams and rivers with clear water from Mount Saos rapidly flow to the sea. Number of sources descending from the mountain, form waterfalls and the famous “Vathres” (naturally formed freshwater pools).
Close to Therma is “the old vathra”, where starts the climb to the Mount Moon. Small and large streams also form many waterfalls; the largest stream of the island is ‘Fonias’ (meaning killer) and the highest waterfall “Klidosi” of 35 meters. Other waterfalls are: the “Kakia Plaka”, the “Karia” etc.
Furthermore beautiful waterfalls are formed from the brooks of Xeropotamos, Karagiannakis, Kremastos, Gyali, Agistros and Arapis.
Ardas Banks – River Dam
The river Ardas and the riparian forest which lies along the river bed comprise an important ecosystem in the area. The flora and fauna of the area is composed by a great variety of trees, elms, ivy, plane trees, wild roses, and etc as well as rare bird species such as herons, woodpeckers, ‘’voutixtaria’’ and wild ducks.
Built in 1969, the river’s dam is 8 km away from the village Kiprinos and it is 350 meters long. The river Ardas flows from the mountain range of Rodopi and travels 216 km on Bulgarian ground in order to reach Greek land and the estuary of river Evros.
This is an exceptionally beautiful area, with water being the primary element, and provides all kinds of recreational activities like sport, festivals etc. The whole area is protected by the NATURA 2000 program.
Fossilization forest Fylaktou – Lefkimis
The fossilization forest of Tichero – Fylakto and the wider area occurred due to the ideal fossilization conditions and are directly related to the volcanic activity in the area 25.000.000 years ago.
The volcanic activity created warm solutions rich in silica dioxide that penetrated and imbued the volcanic sedimentary rocks. Molecule to molecule, the organic vegetable matter of the tree trunks trapped in the rocks was replaced by minerals resulting in fossilization.
In the case of this forest the fossilization is perfect. The external morphological features of the tree trunks are intact, e.g. the growth rings, the barks as well as the internal structure of the wood according to the micro technology used to determine the species of the fossilized tree.
The excavations carried out by the University of Athens and Paleontologist professor Evangelos Velitselos are work in progress. The museum that is under way in the Eco-tourist centre in Tichero will host all of the findings and will serve as a centre for fossil research and restoration.
For more information, vistit: www.visitevros.gr