Armenian Travel Bureau

Inbound travel to the Republic of Armenia

Armenia Nature Fauna Armash Fishponds

Armash Fishponds

Armenia's Armash fish ponds offer one of the most exciting birding opportunities in the entire Western Palearctic -- it is a magnet for anyone with a serious interest in birds.

Armash fish ponds are one of the Caucasus' richest ornithological hot spots, boasting the largest concentration and variety of bird life in Armenia. The diversity of birds that call this magical place home is impressive, with about 220 different species including Little, Great Crested and Red-necked Grebes, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco, Purple and Grey Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets, Mallard, Garganey, Red-Crested and Common Pochards, Tufted Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Little Crake, Common Coot, Eurasian Thick-knee, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Northern Lapwing, Common, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Common Redshank, Common Black-headed Gull, Gull-billed and Little Terns, Black Tern, Common Kingfisher. It is also the habitat that provides the main entry point for most migratory water birds that cross the national borders such as Red-necked Phalarope, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Sanderling, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, White-winged and Whiskered Terns.

Nestled in the foothills of Mount Ararat, the commercial fish ponds of Armash are at the junction of Armenia and Iran, Turkey and Nakhichevan. It is a broad swath of extensive wetland area in the arid lands of south-western Armenia, occupying fish-ponds each between 10 and 100 hectares (24.7 and 247 acres) in size. The terrain is mainly saline semi desert, yet the pools, natural salt marshes, irrigation and drainage channel shores, standing fresh waters and warm artesian springs have turned Armash into a bird paradise.

Extensive reed beds and aquatic vegetation growing along shores and on islet-shaped patches provide refuge and breeding habitats for grebes, egrets, herons, ducks, an array of waders and terns. An overwhelming majority of waterbirds have enriched these expanses as breeding and foraging grounds, while warm artesian streams create favorable conditions for large concentrations of migratory waterbirds during spring/fall passage and wintering seasons.

Land bird diversity is also impressive and includes Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eater, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Sand Martin, Yellow Wagtail, Bearded Reedling and many other passerine birds. The great attraction of fish ponds is not only in the habitats available, but also in the annual practice of draining the pools in order to harvest the fish, thereby incidentally providing a habitat exceptionally rare in Armenia, that of exposed mud used extensively by many thousands of waders during their fall periods of migration in Armenia.

Armash is the only site in Armenia that supports the breeding of the globally threatened species Marbled Teal and White-headed Duck. It plays host to rarities such as Eurasian Spoonbill and the graceful White-tailed Lapwing that are found nowhere else in Armenia.

Other notable species include global (IUCN) and national red-listed species such as Pygmy Cormorant, Greylag Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Glossy Ibis, Armenian Gull, Osprey and European Roller. Periods of fall migration hold the most extreme rarities including Black-winged Pratincole and Flamingo, while Great Black-headed Gull, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, as well as Whooper and Tundra Swan are traditional winter visitors.

A final link in the rich chain of habitats surrounding Armash is the semi desert with Tamarisk, Camel's Thorn and Sagebrush vegetation which supports an impressive selection of warblers. The bushes and scrubby areas literally throng with reverberating sounds of Olivaceous, Upcher´s and Menetries Warblers, while dense stands of reed are full of Great Reed, Sedge, Cetti's, Savi's and Paddyfield Warblers and a great majority of other passerine birds.

Each year the fish ponds at Armash attract birds as a suitable breeding and foraging grounds, while warm artesian streams create favorable conditions for migrating and wintering birds. Shown on this panel are some of Armenia's most interesting birds, including rare and endangered ones, which can be seen here at various times of the year.

Species occurrence period shown by calendar month: IV = April, V = May, etc.

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