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The waterbody is situated close to the northern foothills of the Western Tian-Shen within the Dzhuvaly valley and abutting, from the north-east, the Chokpak Pass. This, in turn, straddles the Dzhabaglytau mountains which form the northern massif of the Talassky Alatau Range and Borolday mountains, themselves constituting the southern branch of the Karatau Range. Administratively the site lies in the most southerly part of the Zhambyl Region, just to the north of the international border between Kazakhstan and Kyrghyzstan. The site lies in an area between parallel sections of motorway and railway lines connecting the regional centres of Taraz and Shymkent. The waterbody has been created artificially at the upper middle flow of the Assa river that rises in the Karatau mountain range and drains eastwards through the Dzhuvaly valley. As water levels are controlled the size and shape of the reservoir shows significant alterations seasonally. Its maximum size (8.7 x 1.7 km) is reached in April-May, September-October and in winter. The dam occupies the whole of the eastern shore. The northern shore consists of various rock outcroppings and the southern and western shores are smooth and devoid of vegetation. The higher sections of the gently sloping shore are covered by dry meadows. All relatively level plots of the adjacent steppe have been converted to arable land. The major crops of the area are cereals, vegetables, safflower and alfalfa. Only a few slopes of the nearby hills retain their natural cover of steppe vegetation with Agropyron-Festuca predominant.
The site is an important resting area for large numbers of migrants crossing the Chokpak mountain pass. Most numerous are ducks, gulls, cranes and waders. In general birds of prey and Passerines tend not to linger due to the open nature of the site, the exception being several species of lark.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ters-Ashchibulak Reservoir. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/10/2020.