Species conservation


Terns, Plovers, and other waterfowl species

Gulls, Terns, and other Plovers, as we call them, are birds attached to wetlands – seas, lakes, dams, rivers, etc. Some breed in Bulgaria, others winter here, while there are species that only fly over the country during migration.
Terns (Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, and Little Tern) and Plovers (Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, and Little Ringed Plover) breed mainly along the Black Sea coast, salinas, big rivers (Danube and Maritsa), or smaller reservoirs. They form either one-species or mixed colonies, consisting of several birds or several hundreds of pairs.

Many of these birds are threatened and their colonies have suffered severe decline. Destruction of habitats, construction works along the sea coast, intense urbanization and growing tourist flows, draining of wetlands and changes in river beds threaten the survival of these typical inhabitants of the wetlands.

What we do
Green Balkans’ efforts for the protection of these species are mainly aimed at improving breeding habitats, restoring destroyed or deteriorated habitats, preserving breeding colonies, implementing regular monitoring, exerting control over poaching, raising public awareness, and popularizing nature conservation activities.

Therefore, the following activities are implemented:
- Construction of artificial islands for Terns, Avocets, and Gulls;
- Construction of artificial floating islands for Ducks;
- Placement of nest chambers for Shelducks;
- Implementation of regular boat expeditions along the Danube and Maritsa rivers, and report on the numbers and species composition of breeding waterfowls;
- Implementation of international conservation working holidays to build artificial breeding sites in the Pomorie Lake region;
- Implementation of regular monitoring of Bulgaria’s biggest colony of Sandwich Terns at the Pomorie Lake, and report on the numbers and species composition of the other target species in the area;
- Publication of information materials;
- Implementation of public events and awareness raising meetings with target groups.

Our programs for conservation and restoration of wetlands and other habitats are beneficial for the protection of these species.

The major results have been achieved in the area of the Pomorie Lake.
Green Balkans has been implementing “Pomorie Lake: Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Management” project, supported by the World Bank. The project costs amount to $ 2,006,190. The project goal is sustainable management and restoration of the Pomorie Lake as a habitat of rare waterfowl species.
Artificial islands of more than 400 m2 have been built in the Pomorie Lake Protected Site, which resulted in the multiple increase of the population of Sandwich Terns (Sterna sandvicensis). The construction of artificial islands in the Pomorie Lake began in 1996–1997 as there were only 6 breeding pairs then. In 2004, the artificial islands built by Green Balkans harbored more than 1,300 breeding pairs. This turned the colony into the biggest breeding habitat of Terns in the country. This is the most significant increase of a species in a particular region resulting from direct conservation measures.
These artificial islands are used by Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) and Little Terns (Sterna albifrons) as well, as the latter reached 55 pairs in 2001. In addition, Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) also use the islands to breed, as the maximum number - 44 pairs, was recorded in 2001. During the breeding period, these islands are used by Mediterranean Gulls (Larus melanocephalus), Slender-billed Gulls (Larus genei), etc.

Since 1996/97, conservation working holidays have been implemented at the Pomorie lake on annual basis. So far, there have been 18 such holidays involving more than 250 volunteers from Bulgaria, Great Britain, USA, New Zealand, Macedonia, and Turkey. Over 2,300 man-days of voluntary efforts were contributed to support the breeding habitats of protected species.
More than 40 volunteers were involved in the ringing of over 4,500 birds in the area, which contributes to their studying.
Five information signboards have been placed.
Poster, popularizing nature conservation and alternative tourism has been published.
Over 15 educational lectures and workshops, involving various target groups have been carried out.
Every conservation working holiday has an official part involving representatives of the competent institutions – District and Municipal administrations, Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters, Regional Forest Board, NGOs, local structures, etc. The Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria – Mr. Angel Marin, took part in the official parts of two such holidays. Each event receives broad coverage by local and national media.

In addition, at about 30 expeditions for studying and protecting these species have been implemented along the Maritsa and Danube rivers.
Green Balkans’ team takes part in the annual midwinter census of waterfowls as part of the international initiative of Wetlands International.
Green Balkans has been working to prevent poaching of the above-listed species.

Вrochures and posters have been published, сformation signboards have been putted.

How you can help
- By joining the conservation working holidays at the Pomorie lake (August/September);
- By participating in the regular expeditions along the Maritsa and Danube rivers;
- By providing material support for the expeditions or by making a donation for the conservation of these species.
- By watching out for poaching;
- By providing information on any birds found, marked with ornithological rings;
- By taking part in bird-ringing campaigns.

Our efforts in the field of activity described above are supported by the World Bank, BTCV, Pomorie Municipality, Bulgarian-Swiss Biodiversity Conservation Program, “Burgas-Ecology-Man” Foundation, Committee Against Bird Slaughter, ЕURONATUR ant others.