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Home / Natural sights / Lake Cerknica


Intermittent Lake Cerknica acts a strong magnet to birds. So far, more than half of all European bird species have been observed in this area. The ever-changing landscape creates unique opportunities to observe these animals in their everyday activities throughout the year.

In springtime, wood sandpipers, ruffs and common snipes rush along the shore, skilfully using their long beaks to feed on larvae of water insects and other invertebrates left ashore by the retreating lake. Northern, Montagu's and western marsh harriers fly low over the vast Cerknica plain and look for prey. Purple and great white herons patiently wait at meandering streams, with black terns gently flying above them. When cockchafers swarm, flocks of sociable red-footed falcons make a stop at the lake while moving east, and Eurasian curlews start calling for their mates.

In long summer days, Eurasian hobbies chase cheeky skylarks, red-backed shrikes are looking about from the bushes, and above the vast grasslands, home to redshanks, snake eagles glide. At sunrise, red-necked grebes are already diving to find young fish, whereas shy black stork only comes to the vast marsh at dusk. On clear nights, corncrakes court their brides loudly and relentlessly, waking up the nocturnal species – water rails and little and spotted crakes, which are hiding in the thick sedge and reeds. Indeed, the Cerknica plain never sleeps... This holds true also because of the repeated chirping of sedge, barred and reed warblers, whinchats, rosefinches and Savi's warblers.

In autumn, the lake provides plenty of food and enough peace for flocks of cranes to recover from their tiring migration. Mighty white-tailed eagles circle above their kingdom, above the lake, which attracts thousands of water birds and provides ferruginuous ducks, northern shovelers and smews with food and shelter in the flooded reeds until winter turns the lake into an ice-skating rink...

The importance of the intermittent lake for the endangered bird species surely goes far beyond Slovenia's borders, therefore, Lake Cerknica has been designated as a Natura 2000 Site and a Ramsar Site.

Importance for nature conservation:  Ramsar Site, Natura 2000 Site
Number of bird species observed at Lake Cerknica:  276
Number of bird species nesting at Lake Cerknica: 100+
Number of migratory bird species:  150+
Number of qualifying bird species to designate Lake Cerknica as a Natura 2000 Site:  33