The site consists of two adjacent water-bodies and surrounding land and covers a total of 750 ha, between altitudes 380 and 400 m. It is located 12 km from Fès, at the north-eastern extremity of the Plaine du Saïs. To the west, the site comprises a shallow, slightly brackish pond covering 10 ha, kept artificially filled by the site managers. It is bordered by a reedbed and some mixed woodland. The larger, eastern lake covers 60 ha and is dependent on rainfall to maintain its level, which therefore varies according to the season and year. The vegetation consists of indigenous Phragmites australis, Scirpus maritimus, Ruppia maritima, Carex sp. and Juncus sp. with introduced Cupressus sp., Pinus sp., Salix sp., Populus sp. and Tamarix sp. There is also some cereal and fruit cultivation, sometimes under glass. Annual precipitation is 540 mm.
See Box for key species. The protected nature of the site—it is a ‘Domaine Royal’ with no public access—means that birds are largely undisturbed, and it is therefore of great importance to migrating waterfowl and other species. Around 180 species have been recorded, of which up to 80 are definite or potential breeders. Three other waterfowl species occur in good numbers, sometimes approaching threshold numbers: Anas clypeata (winter maximum 3,658 individuals in 1989); Glareola pratincola (normally between several dozens and a hundred wintering individuals; regular breeder with up to a maximum of a dozen pairs); and Tadorna ferruginea. Up to 20 Aythya nyroca have been recorded (in 1963) and Falco naumanni is a passage migrant. In addition, three species of the Mediterranean North Africa biome are present (see Table 2).
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dwiyate. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/01/2021.