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Ulken Araltobe island on Alakol lake.

Migration station on lake Alakol.

“Our nature consists in motion; complete rest is death” 

Marcel Achard.

Central Asia Highway.

The island of Ulken Araltobe (Big Stone) is located in the central part of Lake Alakol and is located in the Urdzhar district of the East Kazakhstan region. Ulken Araltobe Island is the largest island, which is a flat-topped hill, elongated from northwest to southeast.
The area of the island is 21.55 square kilometers, the perimeter reaches 22.65 kilometers. The length of the island from southeast to northwest is 7.7 kilometers, the maximum width of the island from southwest to northeast in the northern part reaches 4.8 kilometers.
The highest height above the water level is 92 meters. The absolute height is 439.5 meters above sea level. The bedrock is covered with a layer of loose deluvial deposits, on which desert vegetation is developed. In the central part of the island there is a hilly plain, raised above the level of the lake by 58 - 60 meters.
There are no human dwellings on the islands of Lake Alakol, although there are several burial mounds on the island of Ulken Araltobe, indicating the presence of people here in ancient times. After an unsuccessful attempt to keep sheep in winter (lack of fresh water and lack of fodder) on the island of Ulken-Araltobe, the Alakol Islands were not used in agriculture in the future.
The hill is bordered by a gently sloping and hilly terrace, which along the coastal strip is formed by sand, rubble and pebbles. The eastern and northeastern sides of the island are gently sloping, with a coastal rampart made of pebbles, gravel and sand, behind which there are reed beds, tamarisk and saxaul bushes.
On the southern and southwestern sides of the island there are rocky cliffs 10 - 20 meters high, on the ledges of which there has long been a colony of great cormorants. In 1971, there were 2 colonies with a total number of up to 2000 individuals (Auezov, 1977), in 1974 - 2 colonies of 100 - 150 nests each (Borodikhin, Gavrilov, 1978), in 1986 - 3 groups from 18, 50 and 100 nests. In 1999, only 49 great cormorant nests remained and 48 pairs of gulls lived here.
On the northern coast of the island, in depressions behind the coastal ramparts, shallow lakes up to 300 x 300 meters in area were formed, surrounded by reeds, tamarisks and having a mosaic type of overgrowth.
Nesting of the coot, shelduck, shelduck, white-headed duck, red-nosed pochard, white-eyed duck, common teal, stilt, oystercatcher, herbalist, meadow beetle, small and sea plover, gull-billed and river tern, moorhen, sand martin, black-headed wagtail, thrush-like and Indian warblers, and even the habitat of the muskrat.
Along with them, at the end of June, non-breeding accumulations of waterfowl and semiaquatic birds, probably flocking here to molt, were observed here. Among them are great, black-necked and little grebe, mute swan, red-headed and crested duck, goldeneye, mallard, gray duck, godwit.
On the slopes of the hills there are field, small and steppe larks, gall bunting, in the thickets of tamarisk - Indian sparrow.
eographic coordinates of Ulken Araltobe Island: N46°11'23.04" E81°45'55.47"

Berezovikov Nikolay Nikolaevich, Cand.Biol.Sci.

Photos by
Alexander Petrov.