Five times less waterfowl were observed in Bulgaria during the weekend when the 42nd International Waterbird Census (IWC) took place. Currently after processing over 70 percent of the collected data shows that the total number of birds found is 122 803 individuals of just over 150 species.
Due to the warmer weather in early January, there were no massive wild geese congregations typical of previous years when temperatures were lower and there was a snow cover in the country. The teams managed to observe and count only about 200 Greater White-fronted Geese and hundreds of globally threatened Red-breasted Goose, which is extremely low in this time of the year. This winter the geese seems to have remained in the countries north of Bulgaria.
In previous years at the same time, and of course in the cold winters, wintering geese in the country reached hundreds of thousands, and in Red-breasted Goose in 2013, the record-breaking for Bulgaria for over a decade some 54 000 red-breasted geese were counted.
This year’s the most numerous were the Common Pochards, Common Coots and Mallard. These are registered regularly during most IWC in the country.
Among the interesting observations are 64 White-headed Ducks and one Bean goose in the region of Bourgas, 40 Mediterranean Shearwaters observed along the southern Black Sea coast and 16 individuals from the globally threatened Slavonian Grebe. Other more attractive species found in the water basins in the country are: Dalmatian Pelicans, White-tailed Sea Eagles, Greater Spotted Eagle, Bewick’s Swans, Pallas’ Gulls, Shags, Goldeneyes, Black-necked Grebes and others.
Unlike other years, in almost all small dams and fishponds, were found wintering waterfowl because they were not frozen. Great advantage was that this year more than 70% of the teams used the SmartBirds Pro mobile data entry application, which brought more than 3,000 records and helped to summarize the results very quickly and easily.
“Surveys on the status of of wintering birds are particularly important and relevant in the context of climate change, which is currently the world’s agenda and which affects each of us,” commented Svilen Cheshmedzhiev of BSPB, the national IWC coordinator. The results can be interpreted as an indicator of changes in the environment and once again emphasize the role of birds as an important indicator of the state of the environment in which we live.
More information on trends and numbers of species can be found here: http://wpe.wetlands.org/
During the 42nd IWC across the country total of 41 experts and volunteer teams of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), the Executive Environmental Agency (EEA), the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters (RIEW ), Hunting Associations and representatives of other NGOs took part and managed to survey and collect data on wintering birds in over 2000 wetlands across the country.