The Noel Baba (Santa Claus) Bird Sanctuary in the southern province of Antalya’s Demre district is one of the leading wetlands in Turkey, providing a home to 149 bird species. 

The sanctuary, which features birds like cormorants, wild geese and mallards, is a significant tourist destination for the district, which is widely known for its Noel Baba Church and as the birthplace of St. Nicholas.

The field, located between Demre’s Cayagazi Harbour and the ancient city of Andriake, was launched as a bird sanctuary in 1989 by Demre Municipality and covers an area of 1,000 hectares. 

Some parts of the sanctuary feature water flowing into Cayagazi Harbour and it is said that the water possess healing effects which benefit the birds.

The number of bird species in the sanctuary is 149, 61 of which reproduce there.  Among the main bird species in the sanctuary are cormorants, herons, wild geese and mallards, although local authorities said three flamingos were also spotted in the area this year.
From time to time, birdwatchers organize tours to the area, which is protected by volunteers including locals from Demre and yacht aficionados in Cayagazi Harbour. 
 “Demre is home to a lot of beauty,” said Demre District Gov. Murat Uz. “This place is an alternative one along with the historic and touristic areas in the region. It provides a good opportunity for bird lovers who are looking for an alternative destination. For bird observation, we have every type of equipment here as well as a bird observatory. Birds from 149 species, including endangered ones, take shelter in this wetland, which is under the protection of our locals.” 

Uz, however, noted that some people were engaged in hunting in the area. “People should avoid hurting animals for 100 grams of meat. They can apply to us and we give them more than they want,” the district governor said.

 

Source:  Daily Hurriyet

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