May 12th 2013
HCMR "road trip" continued on Sunday (now near Serres) surveying the Strymon river. We decided to check out Lake Kerkini due to the incoming rain-storm, so we took a much needed "sunday break". Its easy to drive round the Lake from Lithotopos (at the Dam) up to Kerkini Village (Info.center) and on to Mandraki Harbour and the bridge over the Strymon at Vironia (water buffalo heaven..).
The lake. This is not a wholly "artificial lake" like so many say. It was "created" by a low weir on the Strymon below a huge riverine flooplain swamp system that originally hosted riverine lakes and flooded woodlands. The weir-like low dam was build in 1932. Today the waters are managed as an irrigation reservoir. And it is a National Park. I think what distinguishes this place from all other Greek lakes is its awe-inspiring beauty. The delta of the huge river Strymon flowing into the lake; the flooded forest, vast water meadows and Mount Belles rising 2000 meters above its reflection on Kerkini. And birds everywhere, right next to the road. Even though water levels are way too high this spring - many wading birds abound. Pelicans have made a comeback and are now breeding on artificial platforms; cormorant flocks create amazing "action" scenes.
Lakscapes here are serene. You just sit at Mandraki Harbour and take in the varied chorus of wetland birdsong. Its also a great place for wildlife photography. All photos posted here were taken between about 10 am to 12:30 pm; and obviously our goal here was not the photography. But its surprising how beautiful the scenes come out! We also visited the small freshwater aquarium at Vironia (I'll try to get back about that Aquarium in another blog post).
If you visit Kerkini please pop into the Kerkini Visitors Center - and support the Management Body's efforts for more conservation action at this wonderful place (http://www.kerkini.gr/).