Lake Ptuj is with its 346 hectares the largest Slovenian lake. It was created in 1978 when a dam for the Formin hydroelectric power plant was built on river Drava south of Ptuj. Before damming the area represented the last natural nesting ground of the common tern in Slovenia. Today the terns nest on four man-made islands on the lake. A 12,5 kilometre long embankment is build around the entire lake.
We get off the train at the Ptuj train station. To get to the lake we have to go towards river Drava, which we crossed a few moments before with the train. By passing an avenue and going through a smaller park we reach the river bank. We continue west, past a round tower towards the pedestrian bridge. We cross the bridge and begin our walk around the lake on an embankment. If we visit the lake in a spring or summer morning, our walk should start on the left side of the lake, due to light conditions.
The path, which is on the embankment and goes over the dam in Markovci, leads us around the entire lake. It is quite long and requires several hours of walking. The visit of the lake therefore takes a whole day.
Lake Ptuj is very important for wintering birds and also represents an important resting place for migratory birds. Many duck species can be observed on the lake – from the pochard, tufted duck, teal, mallard, gadwall, wigeon, common goldeneye and northern pintail to the rare scaup and long-tailed duck. Occasionally the common and velvet scoter appear. Lake Ptuj is the most important wintering place for the smew in Slovenia, who can often be accompanied by the goosander and rarely the red-breasted merganser. The diversity of gulls is especially high at the time of migration. The little, great crested and black-necked grebe can regularly be observed here, whereas the red-necked grebe is rarely to be seen.In winter time we can also spot the black-throated and red-throated loon. Flocks of cormorants, in which the pygmy cormorant is frequently present, sit on various structures on the lake. Many fields that are surrounding the lake give us the possibility to observe various birds bound to this type of habitat as well. In addition to the common tern, the artificial islands on the lake also represent the nesting ground for a large black-headed gull colony and individual pairs of the Mediterranean gull.
Other plants and animals
In spring various species of orchids grow on dry meadows that can be found on the southern side of the embankment, among which the three-toothed orchid and the pyramidal orchid are the most numerous.