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Plitvice Lakes National is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register among the first natural sites worldwide.
The Plitvice lakes National Park belongs to Dinaric karst area and due to its specific geology, geomorphology and hydrology it truly is one of the most impressive karst entities in the world. The 157 bird species recorded so far is the third largest population of birds among the national parks of Croatia. Particularly interesting is the white-throated dipper – a rare bird dependent on clean aquatic habitats. Every season has its own unique charm and the Plitvice Lakes with their alternating colors and every new awakening, both trapped in ice or in the shade of the trees, will leave you with a very distinct, unique and invaluable impression.
National Park Plitvice Lakes is a special jewel of the natural heritage of Croatia. Beautiful domain of three elements – water, land and wildlife. Beside unforgettable atmosphere of lakes, waterfalls, forests and meadows, the park offers a large number of bird species, of which we should point out European honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus), the Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) and middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), black woodpeker (Dryocopus Martius), Ural owl(Strix uralensis), crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) and bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula).
Pag is with 63 the second-longest island in the Adriatic, with highly indented coastline (total 269 km) at which point a number of pebble and sand beach.
On the island facing Velebit due to strong wind called bura no vegetation and landscape resembles that of the moon. Trademarks islands are: the famous cheese, lace, salt, white wine “jaundice” and extremely beautiful Pag folk costume.
Zrmanja, river in north Dalmatia is 69 km long. Its strong spring in the foot of the mountain of Velebit is in about 395 m of height, and it flows to the Adriatic sea near Novigrad. In its upper part Zrmanja makes 7 km wide valley, while it flows near Zvonigrad (ruins of the medieval town above Zrmanja) to its estuary. Zrmanja makes several small and fast cascades.
River Krupa originating in Krupa in Obrovac, and flows into the Zrmanja in Sastavak. it was named after a village Krupa. On the river there are 19 waterfalls, most of which have their height, shape and indented belong to the most beautiful Croatian waterfalls.
Because it is one of the rare natural habitats of waterbirds as well as because of its fresh water springs and biodiversity, the Vrana Lake and its surroundings have been declared a nature park on July 21st, 1999. The park’s limits are between Pirovac and Pakoštane. It is in fact a karst valley filled with brackish water and is below sea-level.Its cultural and historical monuments date from as far back as 2000 years B.C.
The predominating characteristic of the park is its special Ornithological reserve, which received its title for its well preserved huge reed-patch in the north-western part of the lake, with its immense biodiversity, and for its extraordinary scientific and ecological value ever since 1983. The reserve has been included to the list of Important Bird Areas in Europe and is a potential Ramsar site.
Vrana Lake is a hot-spot with tremendous diversity of ornithofauna of 249 recorded bird species, of which 102 nest in the park area. Of these nesting birds, four are considered Endangered on the European level and seven on national level. For some of these birds Vrana Lake is the only nesting area in the entire Mediterrenean part of Croatia. The park area is also an important resting and feeding place for a whole range of endangered European species. More than 100 000 waterbirds come here to spend the winter.
Lika area is known for its preserved nature an rich grasslands, streams, amongst which the is the first valley of river Gacka. Numerous population of corncrake habitat here (Crex crex). Velebit Mountain is mostly due to the beautiful nature with ancient forests, interesting karst formations and alpine meadows, protected (Nature Parks North and South Velebit, National Park Paklenica …). These are the habitats of yellow-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Jay (Nucifraga caryocatactes) and mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus).
The island of Pag is a spacious area of low and flat rocky pastures and sandy shores. On the island there are interesting freshwater oasis – Veliko, Malo i Kolansko blato. This area is one of the best for bird watching, especially Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus), partridge (Alectoris graeca), Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster).
River canyons of Krupa and Zrmanja in base of the Velebit Mountains are beautiful karstic canyons with steep edges of the sandbanks and cliffs, rich grasslands and meadows along the banks of the river. There is numerous population of Dipper (Cinclus Cinclus), hridnih swallow (Hirundo rupestris) and Mountain Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea).
Due to its unique natural features, magnificent forests and extraordinary geomorphologic structures, the area of Velika and Mala Paklenica was proclaimed a national park in 1949. The main reason for proclaiming this area a national park was the protection of the largest and best preserved forest complex in the territory of Dalmatia, which was threatened by overexploitation. The Paklenica National Park stretches on the area of 95 km2 , on the littoral slope of South Velebit under the zone of highest mountain peaks Vaganski vrh (1752) and Sveto brdo (1753).
It covers the area of torrent flows of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, and their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit and the broader surrounding area. The relatively small area has an abundance of geomorphological phenomena and forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and intact nature. Diverse habitats in the area of Paklenica, along with elevation stratification, provide a home for diverse fauna.
Distinctive features of Paklenica National Park are autochthonous forests of black pine, several types of beech forests and deep canyons with torrent flows of Velika and Mala Paklenica. Wider area of Paklenica National Park prides itself with rich and diverse cultural heritage.
Birds are the most numerous group of vertebrates, with 254 species recorded to date. The world of birds is represented by 111 species of nesting birds found in the broader park area. The nesting bird group includes a community of birds inhabiting rocks and cliffs in the canyons of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, with 24 bird species. The largest among them are the rock nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) and blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius).
A special value is added to the park by the endangered and rare bird species such as the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus) and goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). As for owls, seven species have been recorded in the Park. The most numerous ones are Eurasian tawny owl (Strix aluco) and scops owl (Otus scops), while the largest European owl, the eagle owl (Bubo bubo) regularly nests in the canyons of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica.
Forest areas are rich with woodpeckers, the rarest among them being the white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) and middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius). Three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) was recorded only in 2008 and 2009, when the population of bark beetles exploded inside the trunks of burnt pine trees.
Until the late 1999, the Eurasian griffon (Gyps fulvus) was represented by three couples. Unfortunately, a decrease in the number of cattle in Velebit and increasingly frequent attempts to poison predators, especially wolves, contributed to its extinction in the Park.
National Park Paklenica is “a must” destination for all fans of karst canyons, cliffs and caves. The richness of these karst beauties, Velika and Mala Paklenica, complemented by a number of interesting bird species, especially those characteristic for this kind of habitat, such as the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer) Crag Martin (Hirundo rupestris) and wood pigeon (Columba livia).