A shallow saline lake (depth 0.5-2.0 m) with a few small islands. Reedbeds cover large parts of the lake, especially in the central and southern parts. There are some Tamarix groves (largely flooded) along the southern shore. The lake is surrounded by saltwort Salsola semi-desert in the south and cotton fields in the north; there are also some saltmarshes. The lake is rented by the Hunters' Society of Azerbaijan and sheep graze the edges.
This is an important site for breeding waterbirds, totalling 12,000-15,000 pairs. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Oxyura leucocephala (occasional in winter). Terns and shorebirds (including Charadrius alexandrinus and Chettusia leucura) also occur. Winter waterbird numbers range from 10,000 to 40,000, or more.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main threat for this lake is sharp reduction of water level. The lake is need in good management plan. Pollution caused by pesticide run-off from cotton fields threatens both breeding and wintering birds. Threats also include intensive hunting, trampling of nests on islands by buffaloes grazing in water and the effects of fluctuating water-levels (dependent on watering of cotton fields further north) on the timing of breeding by Pelecaniformes and Ciconiiformes (`Other' threat, above). In supporting at least 20,000 waterbirds and at least 1% of the regional population of three species (Anas penelope, A. clypeata, Aythya ferina), the IBA qualifies for designation as a Ramsar Site.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
As a part of monitoring project was studied in 1996-1997 year by Azerbaijan Ornithological Society (AOS).Regularly studies of winter birds population conduct by AOS annually.
National None International None
Habitat and land use
There is a hunting farm of Azerbaijan Society of Hunting and Fishers. Surrounding lands use for agriculture.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Mahmudchala. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 04/12/2021.