Voices From the Field (2021-08-03)

A Birdless Watching Tower

Gygaia Projects

The shoreline of the beautiful and ecologically important Lake Marmara has continued to recede since we last wrote about it in late June. Recriminations range from climate change, to dam and drinking-water reservoir policies, to unwise overuse for irrigation. To see the situation up close, a small contingent recently visited the bird watching tower constructed in summer and fall 2020.

The solidly built tower is flanked by well-designed signage that provides information about the lake and wetlands as well as important cautions for when to ascend the six flights of stairs and when not… when lightening is near, for example!

Signs at ground level define the protected zone of the wetland (the Marmara Gölü Sulak Alanı Koruma Alanı) and describe what types of activities are allowed and prohibited within it. One panel displays 30 examples of the more than 100 species of birds that are said to traditionally inhabit the area. Many of these are resident only seasonally during migration periods, yet they contribute to the famously rich biodiversity associated with wetland environments.

Views from the top level of the tower – to north (above left) and to east (above right) – clearly show the retreat of lake shore and the nearly birdless environment left behind. These lands have been quickly reclaimed by regional agriculturalists.

A walk out into the desiccated lakebed shows – with view again to north (above left) and to east (above right) – a mud-cracked texture with dark brown muddy depths surfaced with a dried matt of fine lake weed.

Despite the loss of avian populations, tiny frogs and new wetland vegetation reclaim newly available territory, rare remaining representatives of wetland biodiversity.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects soon!