Two small freshwater lakes in a broad valley in the foothills of the western Zagros Mountains near the small town of Izeh, 125 km east-north-east of Ahwaz. Sheikho, the larger lake (c.300 ha), lies north-west of the town. It is shallow and almost entirely overgrown with emergent vegetation except around the edges where heavy grazing and trampling by cattle maintain some open water. Izeh lake (c.250 ha), east of the town, is somewhat deeper with much more open water. Both lakes are fed by local run-off and large springs at the base of nearby hills. The plains around the lake and to the south are cultivated, mainly for wheat, and there are several small villages and seasonal encampments in the vicinity. Sparsely vegetated stony hillsides rise abruptly to the north. Land ownership is public.
See box for key species. An important wintering area for Tachybaptus ruficollis (3,500), herons, egrets, Anser anser, Tadorna ferruginea, surface-feeding and diving ducks, Fulica atra and Grus grus. Several species of waterfowl breed in small numbers, and many Ciconia ciconia nest in the general area, including over 20 pairs on telegraph poles in Izeh town. Mid-winter waterfowl counts in the 1970s seldom exceeded 5,000, but numbers have been much higher in recent years. The numbers of Grus grus appear to have remained stable since the 1970s.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
There is no legal protection. The emergent marsh vegetation is heavily grazed, but no other threats are known.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Izeh and Sheikho lakes. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 28/01/2023.