The site comprises three small lakes, with associated marshes and intervening grassy steppe, on the Turkoman Steppes near the border with Turkmenistan, c.60 km north-north-east of Gorgan. Lake Alagol (37°21'N 54°35'E, 900 ha) lies c.6 km south-west of Lakes Ulmagol (37°25'N 54°38'E, 280 ha) and Ajigol (37°24'N 54°40'E, 360 ha); it is slightly saline and fed by seepage, springs and local run-off, flooding in winter and sometimes drying out completely in summer. When full, it overflows westwards. The lake is oligotrophic, supporting little vegetation. Lake Ulmagol and Lake Ajigol are eutrophic freshwater lakes fed by local rainfall in autumn and winter. Both are subject to wide fluctuations in water level, and occasionally dry out completely. The lakes rarely, if ever, freeze over in winter. Lake Alagol supports little aquatic vegetation except for some Juncus, Carex and grasses, mainly in the north-east, and a few small patches of Phragmites. Ulmagol and Ajigol support a more varied vegetation of Juncus, Lemna, Phragmites, Alhagi and algae. Much of Ajigol is overgrown with Phragmites, and the lake has some adjacent stands of Tamarix. The surrounding steppes are a vast gently undulating grassland with low sandy hills. There are several small settlements near the lake complex, and reed-cutting, grazing, wildfowl hunting and some fishing occur. Land ownership is public.
See box for key species. The lakes are utilized by a wide variety of waterfowl during the migration seasons and in winter, and are especially important for Phoenicopterus ruber, Anser anser, dabbling ducks, Netta rufina, Mergellus albellus and Fulica atra. Breeding species include Himantopus himantopus, Charadrius alexandrinus, Larus genei and Remiz pendulinus. Ciconia nigra has been recorded in summer and may breed.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The lakes were designated a Ramsar Site in 1975, but there is no legal protection and no conservation measures are known to have been proposed. Ulmagol and Ajigol have long been subjected to high levels of disturbance from wildfowl hunters, and Alagol (the least accessible of the three) is also now affected by disturbance from hunters. Thorough investigation of these lakes has been recommended by the Department of the Environment.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Alagol, Lake Ulmagol and Lake Ajigol. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022.