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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Razavi Khorasan
Central coordinates 61o 9.00' East  36o 30.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, B2
Area 8,000 ha
Altitude 275 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description A 40-km strip of land c.2 km wide on the west (Iranian) bank of the Hari Rud river up to the point where it leaves Iranian territory c.10 km north of the town of Sarrakhs. The river meanders down a wide valley in gently undulating sandy steppe at the southern edge of the Kara Kum desert, one of only two places in north-east Iran where the border with Turkmenistan extends down from the hills to incorporate a section of these plains. The river floods in winter and spring, but by late summer surface water may be reduced to a series of large pools in the deepest parts of the bed. A group of fishponds has recently been constructed near Sarrakhs and provides permanent wetland habitat. There are extensive riverine thickets along the Turkmenistan bank, but only one small patch of Salix and Tamarix woodland (c.4 ha) remains on the Iranian side, c.26 km south of Sarrakhs. There are patches of Phragmites along the river, sandy plains with steppic vegetation in the south, and irrigated cultivation (mainly wheat) and Populus groves around Sarrakhs in the north. Other plants include Euphorbia charolepsis and Heliotropum khorasanecum. There is public land ownership.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The riverine thickets along the Hari Rud are the only known locality for Phasianus colchicus principalis in Iran, and one of only two localities for Parus bokharensis. This is also the best area in Iran for Columba eversmanni: up to 100 have been observed in September and the species probably breeds. There is a breeding colony of Falco naumanni (at least 20 pairs) in sandy cliffs in the south of the area. Other notable species include Cursorius cursor, Glareola pratincola, Alauda gulgula, Saxicola caprata, Acrocephalus stentoreus, Hippolais rama, Emberiza bruniceps and Rhodopechys obsoleta. Lanius vittatus and Sturnus roseus have been observed in summer, and may breed. Phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus has been recorded on autumn passage. Small numbers of ducks have been recorded at the fishponds near Sarrakhs.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Phasianus colchicus resident  1977  frequent  B2  Not Recognised 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  1977  20 breeding pairs  good  A1, B2  Least Concern 
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni breeding  1977  100 individuals  unknown  A1, A3, B2  Vulnerable 
Yellow-eyed Pigeon Columba eversmanni passage  1977  100 individuals  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
Parus bokharensis resident  1973-1974  1 breeding pairs  good  A3  Not Recognised 
Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus breeding  1977  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps breeding  1977  common  A3  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   major
Grassland   major
Wetlands (inland)   minor
Artificial - aquatic   minor
Shrubland   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
fisheries/aquaculture minor

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

References Scott (1973c), Scott and Howell (1976).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Hari Rud valley near Sarrakhs. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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