Akdeniz (Ag Eirini)
The Akdeniz protected area covers a total area of 143.28 sq km on the north west coast of Cyprus and is a beautiful and unspoilt natural area of importance for its habitats and unique assemblage of plant, animal and bird species.
Declared as a protected area by a decision of the TCc parliament in 2008 the protected area on the Akdeniz peninsular contains a characteristic collection of habitats and rare flora and fauna. The area has been significantly influenced by its relationship with man going back for centuries, and the low intensity farming, sustainable land use and interaction with man has led to the beautiful and important habitats and sights you can see now.
Gecitkoy Reservoir area - an excellent habitat for birds and plants within the Akdeniz SEPA area
The vegetation of the Akdeniz protected area is of a coastal Mediterranean character, with a high biodiversity and great value for nature conservation. The low level of access to the coastal areas historically has meant that the habitat has largely remained undisturbed. Certain habitats within the protected area are well preserved, particularly the Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp. and large areas of Embryonic shifting dunes. There are many inaccessible and beautiful sandy bays and the flora is characterised by some rare and endemic floral species. Among the most important floral species of the protected area are the endemic Cyprus Tulip, Tulipa cypria and the endemic Orchid Ophrys kostchyi. 22 other endemics plant species can be found within the protected area. At Kalkanli a monumental Olive Grove has been preserved with some trees many hundreds of years old.
Both Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles nest in large numbers on the various sandy beaches around the Akdeniz peninsular, and the protected area is an important site for both species in the Mediterranean basin. In addition to the sea turtles, the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) has been seen in the area
With seven endemic bird species and its unique location as a staging post on the annual trans Saharan migration route of birds from Europe, Siberia and the Caucasus, Cyprus, and the Akdeniz protected area, is a fascinating place for bird watchers with a constantly changing avifauna. Over 200 species regularly occur as migrants with another 20 or so as irregular visitors, as well as the cape itself the reservoir at Geçitköy provides a draw for migrants and breeding birds.
Spring sees a concentrated northwards passage of birds from Africa during early February to mid March with many birds staying for several days to rest and feed within the protected area. The swallows and martins are amongst the first to arrive, with other typical species such as Rüppels, Subalpine and Orphean Warblers along with Isabelline Wheatears and Redstarts passing early, and other, more long distance migrants such as Barred Warbler, Garden Warbler, Flycatchers and Golden Oriole passing later. After resting and feeding within the protected area many birds can be seen leaving the coast at dusk for the crossing to mainland Turkey and the movement into the rest of Europe. Summer is a much quieter period with the number of species dropping to 75-80 with many species finding the hot, dry climate inhospitable for breeding.
Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
During August, September and October the Autumn bird migration sees a substantial westward movement of birds along the north coast of Cyprus with ducks, herons, egrets and other water birds moving along the coast at dusk in large numbers, many of these rest within the Akdeniz protected area and off the coast before continuing their crossing of the island to continue migration. During winter the bird life of the protected area is more numerous than in summer with many species wintering on the island.
The protected area will have a dedicated visitor and information centre, which is signposted in the village of Akdeniz, and information boards at prominent locations throughout the protected area will guide you to the sites and treasures of this area. Way marked trails provide an opportunity to explore off the beaten track, further details can be obtained from the visitor centres, tourist guides association.