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The silent lagoon - what threatens the nesting birds in Pomorie Lake

The colony of sandwich terns
25.07.2021
Pomorie Lake is the symbol of the town of Pomorie, and the variety of birds is its greatest wealth, along with the healing mud and sea salt - together forming the inextricably linked components of a complete complex. A total of 57 species of nesting birds have been identified here. Among them are the emblematic for the ldgoon sandwich, common and little terns; avosets, black-winged stilts and dozens of others. The colony of sandwich terns, which nests on the artificial islands built and maintained by the volunteers of the NGO "Green Balkans", already numbers over 1500 pairs and is the largest on the Balkan Peninsula and ranks among the most impressive in Europe.

Green Balkans experts have been conducting regular monitoring and collecting invaluable data on the condition of the lagoon and its inhabitants for over 20 years. Last year, the Life for the Pomorie Lagoon project LIFE 19/NAT/BG/000804 was launched. One of the goals of the project is restoration and conservation of the habitats and the ecosystem of the lake as a whole through rehabilitation of drainage canals and facilities. The purpose is to capture rainwater and surface - fresh water, and bring them out of the salt lake area, in the direction of the Black Sea.

During the monitoring carried out within this project, alarming data have been collected in recent months for the breeding season this summer. There has been a serious decline in the nesting activity of most species in the lagoon, and during the walks on the inner dikes, which are traditionally known as a favorite nesting place for avosets, black-winged stilts and other shorebirds, with hundreds of pairs recorded over the years, only single nests have been registered this year. Our experts are yet to assess the nesting success of the lake area as a whole, but so far the data are very worrying.

One of the main reasons for this is probably the worldwide trend of declining of populations of shorebirds, which include the species listed above. According to the latest data from the SHOREBIRD Conservation Society, there is a decrease in the number of over 50% of the species, mainly due to the loss of vital habitats. This is the main reason for the initiative for the creation of a global network of volunteers, conducting regular censuses of the species of shorebirds and providing data to serve to more effectively protect these delicate creatures. Drastic climate change in recent years has led to a change in key habitats. Bird populations need to adapt to these changes, and their prospects for success in today's fragmented and damaged ecosystems are far from optimistic. The role of conservationists in all this is to provide a network of suitable habitats for shorebirds, both during nesting and during the migration period. Green Balkans is also participating in this initiative with its experts.

Evidence of the mentioned problems in the breeding success this year is the earlier started migration, with the first flocks of migratory birds observed in Pomorie Lake at the end of June.

Another reason for this negative impact is undoubtedly the antropogenic presure and disturbance caused by illegal activities in the lake - surfing, swimming, fishing with nets and others, over which there is no control by the responsible institutions (pictured below - surfers in the Pomorie Lake Protected Area).

It takes diligent monitoring and data collection to act now, before it is too late and to lose the feathered wealth of one of the last natural places on our Black Sea coast - the Pomorie Lagoon.

Project „Conservation of Pomorie Lake coastal lagoon” is implemented by Green Balkans NGO in partnership with M-Pomoriyski solnitsi Ltd, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and biological station „Tour du Valat“, France with the support of the financial instrument LIFE of the European Union. Project’s duration is from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2023.

Contacts:
Dimitar Popov - dpopov@greenbalkans.org
Galina Meshkova – gmeschkova@greenbalkans.org