Central Greece is a huge area, stretching from the Ionian Sea in the west, all the way to the Aegean off the east coast of the long island of Evia (Euboea) to the east of Attiki (Attica).
The Ambracian Gulf is at ten o'clock on the map above and historically where the sea battle of Actium was fought between Octavian and Marc Anthony and Cleopatra 31 BC.
This gulf, which opens into the Ionian Sea at Preveza, through a channel only 600 meters (1968 feet) wide, is the largest natural harbor in all of Europe.
The gulf encompasses 405 square km, with depths up to 60 meters (196.8 feet), with mostly mountains to the south, but with vast wetlands to the north, including saltmarshes, reedbeds, lagoons, within the deltas of two rivers. This huge wetland area comprises a designated Ramsar site (internationally designated important wetlands) though like every wetland in Greece, it has suffered from human impacts and declined ecologically. It is most significant as a bird site, with dozens of species breeding there in season, including Dalmatian pelicans, with a population second in size to that of the Prespa Lakes area in northwest Greece. Also breeding here are four species of tern.
Other birds include stilts, praticoles, stone curlews, Kenitish plover, a couple kinds of heron, bitterns, egrets, white storks, several birds of prey, and many more. Migratory birds in spring and autumn include vast numbers of glossy ibis, which sometimes neighbor up to a thousand birds.
In winter, the largest concentration of waterfowl found anywhere in Europe on a regular basis, up to 145,000 In January. Amphibians and reptiles are also common, as well as two kinds of terrapins. Sadly, loggerhead turtles, which used to build their nests on sandy beaches here, now keep farther south, near Zakynthos, though there are large tortoises here.
Mammals include golden jackal, pine marten, red squirrel, stoat, eastern hedgehog. Dragonflies and insects complete the picture, with some butterflies. You can get to the wetlands from the north easily along the main road between Arta and Preveza, and there are several side roads, the one south to Koronissia a good one for seeing several habitats.
Actually a small lake, fed by springs, it in turn gets so deep that it overflows and feeds the Louros River, which flows into the Gulf of Amvrakikos (above). It is visited mostly for its beauty, a green and watery spot in an otherwise dryish area. Kingfishers there are used to humans, and allow themselves to be viewed from close by without flying away, there are some flowers, dragonflies, damselflies and a fine variety of butterflies in summer on the flowers near the lake edges. Easy access is from the Arta-Ioannina road (about one km (.62 miles), with signs pointing the way.