Located c.20 km north of Sari and 10 km from the Caspian shore at 36°44'N 53°00'E, the Seyed Mohalli and Zarin Kola comprise a 600-hectare complex of shallow, freshwater irrigation ponds (ab-bandans) surrounded by rice fields and maintained through the winter as private duck-hunting reserves. Much of the nearby Larim Sara plains (36°45'N 53°03'E, 1,000 ha) are now converted to agriculture but were formerly open and grassy with a central area of Salicornia flats subject to winter flooding. Freshwater areas have rich submerged, floating and emergent vegetation, including extensive Typha and Phragmites; there are also Salix thickets. Duck-trapping by dazzling in the 1970s reportedly accounted for up to a thousand ducks in a night.
See boxes for key species. The marshes are a very important wintering area for a wide variety of waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks (regularly over 100,000 in the 1970s), swans, Fulica atra and some shorebirds, as well as Circus aeruginosus (up to 60). It is a breeding area for five species of herons and egrets and for Chlidonias hybridus; Haliaeetus albicilla has also nested (see below) and Remiz pendulinus probably breeds. In the 1970s, the Larim Sara plains were an important wintering area for Phoenicopterus ruber, Anser erythropus and A. anser, and also supported a small breeding colony of Glareola pratincola, but much of the area has since been reclaimed for agriculture and most of these birds have disappeared. (Huge flocks of Anser erythropus are reported to have wintered in this area in the 1950s and early 1960s, along with much smaller numbers of Branta ruficollis.)
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Seyed Mohalli, Zarin Kola and Larim Sara. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/10/2020.