THE LIVING LANGUAGE OF NATURE
KORGALZHYN STATE NATURAL RESERVE
Area: 543 171 hectares.
- 41 species of mammals;
- 328 bird species, including 39 listed in the Red book of Kazakhstan and 24 in the IUCN Red list (threatened species categories), as well as 3 endemic and 7 relict species;
- 2 species of amphibians,
- 4 species of reptiles,
- 14 species of fish.
Flora has 374 species of higher plants.
Among the boundless steppes of Central Kazakhstan a giant depression is situated. It is called Tengiz-Korgalzhinskaya depression. This is where the world-famous Korgaldzhinsky Reserve was founded, with total area of 5431 sq. km.. It incorporates the largest and oldest Tengiz lake, which translated as “Sea” and Korgaldzhino lake. The salinity of Tengiz is five to six times higher than the salinity of the oceans. The size of the lakes fluctuates significantly based on weather conditions. On average, the length of Tengiz is about 75 km, and the width is about 30 km, but in the years of maximum levels its area reaches one and a half thousand square kilometers. The area of Korgaldzhino, second largest lake in the reserve, is about 330 square kilometers.
In the jungle of reeds and cattails, occupying more than half of the water surface, hundreds and thousands of waterfowl birds feed and rest on the open bluish stream-pools. Such concentration of birds cannot be found elsewhere throughout Central Asia. The reserve itself was created as an ornithological one, there are more than 300 species of birds. Lakes of the reserve are located right on migratory routes of birds from Siberia to the South, to Asia and Africa. During the migration periods the sky is occupied by flying birds in multiple of flight levels. One of the unique features of the area is the colony of pink flamingos on Tengiz lake. It has been here for a million years, from the Tertiary period. On the islands of Tengiz flamingos established the northernmost nesting colony in the world. There are thousands, hundreds of thousands of the birds on the lakes. Obviously flamingo is the symbol of the reserve. Steppes around the lakes are quite distinct by themselves. There are many species of waders, and larks as symbol of the steppe. Without lark’s incessant springy twitter, it is impossible to imagine the beauty of the steppe, 37 species of birds inhabiting the reserve are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. Steppe antelope saiga is another animal of the most importance. Saiga, like flamingos, is an ancient species than dwells in these places for tens of thousands of years. Mammoths and wooly rhinoceroses have long been extinct, but these species have survived until present day. Apart from saiga, more than 40 species of mammals live in the reserve.
Spring in the steppe is very vivid spectacle, full of bright colors. Among the last year’s grass, colorful tulips are very noticeable, wind is gently swaying violet heads of fritillaria (Fritillaria meleagroides) is the name of these beautiful flowers.
The steppe in the spring blossoms with bright glades of multicolored irises (Iris scariosa).
Tulips of Shrenk (Tulipa schr`enkii) are blooming in colorful glades.
A flock of beautiful birds known as common ringed plovers (Charadrius hiaticula) are moving along the shoreline.
A madness of marmots (Marmota bobac), has chosen for its residence a very picturesque clearing, among the multicolored irises.
Cute little squirell (Spermophilus pygmaeus) is feeding near by. Life of practically all steppe predators, quadrupedal as well as feathered ones depends on these little harmless relatives of squirrels.
Marmots (Marmota bobac) are synonymous with steppe vastness. It is a symbol of the steppe along with eagles and larks.
Mating display of demoiselle cranes (Anthropoides virgo).
Black-winged practincole (Glareola nordmanni) is a representative of steppe waders.
There are many small lakes in Korgaldzhino. Whooper swans(Cygnus Cygnus) are on the steppe lake.
Steppe river Nura is one of the main water sources for local lakes.
Short-eared owl(Asio flammeus) often constructs its nest straight on the ground.
In the spring on these steppe lakes a very interesting birds, ruffs, could be seen. Ruffs(Philomachus pugnax) are slender, long-legged waders. Male and female ruffs are so differ in size and color that in the XIX century they were labeled as different species. Spring is the mating season, so these differences are particularly pronounced. Males are displaying magnificent feather collar on the neck and the head.
Large, like laughing gull, Caspian gull(Larus cachinnans), from below seems completely white.
Pallas’s or great blackheaded gull(Larus ichthyaetus) is the largest one in the region. The gulls, like the flamingos are relics of ancient reservoirs of Kazakhstan. They are quite rare and listened in the Red Book of Kazakhstan.
Flamingos because of its peculiar appearance are often called a camel among the birds. A long curved neck, a humpbacked beak resembles the appearance of camels, ships of the desert.
Flock of flying flamingos(Phoenicopterus roseus).