email a friend
printable version
Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 53o 54.27' East  37o 30.23' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 18,724 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2005

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description The site is a low lying stretch of coast, 1-2 km wide, ranging in altitude from -10m at the frontier post at Gamyshly to 26m and consisting of a sandy strip 50 to 100m wide with ridge-hilly fixed sands inland alternating with areas of saltmarsh. Inland from the sea are several strips of vegetation, differing with substrate: wet saltmarshs which flood with the tide; saltmarshes which are not flooded by the tide; salted shelly sands; semi-salted and shelly sands; semi-fixed ridge-hilly dunes; fixed dunes. Changes in microrelief as a result of sea level fluctuations are affecting the dynamics of the substrata and vegetative cover in each area. The IBA situated in a zone of dry subtropics with hot dry summers and warm winters. The overall average annual temperature is +17.1C, with a maximum of +48C and a minimum of -16С. The average temperature in January is +4.30С. The annual rainfall is approximately 200 mm, the majority falling from November to April. Cloudy days are frequent (up to 74 days per year), the number of days with precipitation is about 30-60. The maximum number of days without frost is 296.

Key Biodiversity The avifauna includes not less than 280 species, of which 240 (86%) are passage-wintering birds, including 120 (43%) which are waterbirds, representing 46 and 23% respectively of the avifauna of Central Asia. Passeriformes are the most numerous (96 species), Haematopodidae (45), Anseriformes (28), Falconiformes (27) and Laridae (16). Most typical on migration are coots and ducks (Netta rufina, Aythya ferina, Anas platyrhynchos, Aythya fuligula, Aythya marila, Anas penelope, etc.), plus waders, gulls and terns. There is a major distinct north-south waterbird migration through the IBA. In the autumn 70.9% of all migrants recorded pass in a southerly direction. In February-March an average of 1,500 to 2,800 birds are recorded daily. In both spring and autumn the most numerous species are waders (67.5% and 38% respectively), gulls (16.9% and 7.7%), ducks (6.7% and 21.4%) and terns (4.9% and 23.3%) (Karavaev, 1988). The following species listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) have been recorded at the site: Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus roseus, Grus virgo, Buteo buteo, Pandion haliaetus, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Falco peregrinus, Circaetus gallicus, Burhinus oedicnemus, and also the non-migratory - Aquila chrysaetos, Falco cherrug and Bubo bubo. There are also records of the globally threatened Vanellus gregarius and Aquila heliaca. The site qualifies under criterion A4iii for the large number of waterbirds (15-20 species) that winter. The following A1 criteria species also occur but curent data is not available to justify designation of the site under this criterion: Oxyura leucocephala, Anser erythropus, Marmaronetta angustirostris and Aythya nyroca.

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna includes 40 species of mammals, half from which are rodents (21 species), the others are predators (8), chiropterans (5), insectivores (4), ungulates (2). Reptiles are represented by 30 species, the most significant are water (Natrix natrix) and grass (Natrix tessellata) snakes and the Central Asian agama (Agama sanguinolenta). The flora contains more than 370 species of higher plants. The vegetation of the coast is represented by halophytic and salsolas communities. Sandy sites are fixed by vegetation but it is sparse: ephedra, a few species of Calligonum, Salsola richteri, and saxaul (Haloxylon persicum) which is very rare. Carex physodes covers some areas with sparse ephemerals.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  2001-2005  52 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  2001-2005  8-5,997 individuals  good  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula winter  2001-2005  397-19,152 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala unknown  2001  1 individuals  A1  Endangered 
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis winter  2001-2005  53-1,094 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena winter  2001-2005  10-1,635 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus winter  2001-2005  7-1,451 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis winter  2001  61-747 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  2001-2005  434-9,341 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo winter  2001-2005  37-1,003 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Coot Fulica atra winter  2001-2005  2,666-22,591 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2005 medium not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Hazar State Nature Reserve 1,310,185 protected area contains site 18,724  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   5%
Desert   5%
Wetlands (inland)   80%
Sea   10%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
military 95%
Notes: border zone
unknown 5%

Protection status Not protected.

References Atamuradov, H.I. (1999)Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. - Т.1. - Ashkhabad: Turkmenistan. (in Russian). Rajapov, M. Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Turkmenistan. Ashgabat, 2002. (in Turkmen, Russian, English). Rajapov, M. Turkmenistan. Country Study on the Status of Biodiversity.Ashgabat, 2002. (in Turkmen, Russian, English).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Ekerem - Esenguly. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife