The only wetland remaining from the once extensive Kabul marshes, on the south-east outskirts of Kabul city on the Kabul-Gardez highway, at c.1,800 m. Kole Hashmat Khan is a small, shallow (c.1.5 m max. depth) L-shaped lake, c.2.5 km long and 300-1,000 m wide. It lies in a basin surrounded by the foothills of the Hindu Kush, and the north-east shore opens into the Logar valley, being connected to the Logar river by a small stream; to the east the hills slope down into the subtropical Jalalabad valley, whereas to the west the hills rise steeply into the Paghman mountains (5,000 m). Past drainage and irrigation have reduced the water in both the lake and the Logar river. Both may become virtually dry in hot summers and the lake is typically frozen for two to three months during winter. In the 1970s the edges of the lake incorporated quite extensive Phragmites reedbeds and were grazed by livestock. There was a large area of basic cultivation between the lake and the village (c.300 people). Southern fields were property of the public bath and the northern fields were owned by local residents. Nomads moved through with their animals each spring, and the area was quite popular for picnicing. Nearby are the popular shrine of Jubur Ansar and the old fortress of Qala-i-Hashmat Khan.
The site is used as a migration staging post by waterfowl en route from Pakistan/India to Central Asia and Siberia. A figure of over 30,000 waterbirds has been implied (Day 1988), but this misinterprets data of Niethammer (1967) who states that a total of 32,700 individual birds were seen during a two-year study. Figures quoted below are typical, and at least 157 species have been recorded. Small numbers of waterbirds breed. Other breeding species in the 1960s and/or 1970s included Podiceps nigricollis (30 pairs), Netta rufina (possibly), Aythya ferina (2 pairs) and Porzana pusilla (probable). Acrocephalus scirpaceus apparently bred in 1967, which would be the sole known Afghan site (nests were found but identification needs confirmation). Moderate numbers of waterfowl occur on passage and in winter, including Podiceps nigricollis (233, March), Anas clypeata (471, March), Aythya ferina (2,210, March), Fulica atra (10,000, March), Tringa glareola (500, August) and Chlidonias hybridus (150, May). The lake is frozen in winter and its value for waterfowl then is limited; species include Fulica atra (5,000 in winter).
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kole Hashmat Khan. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/03/2021.