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THE MONITORING OF WINTERING GEESE AT SHABLA AND DURANKULAK LAKES STARTED
06.11.2013

The first monitoring of the coastal lakes for this autumn-winter field season was held on November 2, 2012. Monitoring is a key activity of the BSPB LIFE+ project "Safe grounds for Redbreasts" and will be performed every two weeks until the end of March.

The presence of wild geese near Durankulak and Shabla Lake Complex is still quite modest. We observed only 17 Greater White-fronted and 3 Greylag geese at Durankulak Lake.  The results were as expected - in recent years when the first census in early November is done, geese are either an insignificant number or missing from the area, especially if the weather is warmer than usual.

Other interesting observations, all at the Shabla Lake Complex – a Common Crane, migrating Squacco Herons and Bramblings. The observation of 90 Shags feeding in the sea off Shabla Lake was also interesting to note. Seven White-headed Ducks were registered at Durankulak lake.

The picture at the Srebarna Reserve near the Danube, where monitoring was held on November 3, was quite different in terms of geese. Much more wild geese were seen there- about 600 Greater White-fronted and 452 Graylag geese. These numbers are within the normal range, as at Srebarna at this time of the year, there are always bigger concentrations of geese. Traditionally, the reserve is the first stop of the geese during their autumn migration to wintering grounds in Northeastern Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the project team recorded the first breach of the hunting legislation there - shooting at a flock of geese, in which Greylag geese were present, in the reserve borders!

In view of cases like this and in order to improve the control on the implementation of the hunting act,  on the initiative of the BSPB team of the project " Safe Grounds for Red Goose " and with the support of State Hunting Reserve Balchik, a meeting was held on 29 October 2013 between the main institutions exercising control over hunting near coastal lakes Shabla and Durankulak - State Hunting Reserve (SHR) Balchik, Shabla Hunting and Angling Association (HAA),  Regional Forestry Directorate (RFD)- Varna, Varna Regional Inspectorate of the Environment  and Waters  (RIEW) and BSPB.

The participants shared the view that the main problems come from non-local hunters visiting the area, mainly in January. The issue of the establishment of patrols with representatives from both the RIEW - Varna and the RFD and SHR- Balchik to ensure timely action after establishing an infringement was discussed.

Let's hope that having a common view of the problem of hunting, hunting act and environmental legislation violations, as well as the willingness of partners to work together, problems with poaching this winter will decrease significantly.