For the 39th consecutive year Bulgaria will take part in the International Waterbird Census (IWC)

© Nicky Petkov

From 16 to 18 January the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) organizes a census of wintering waterbirds in the country. Over 100 volunteers and members of BSPB and participating partners will form more than 40 teams. They will visit all major reservoirs in the country.

The International Waterbird Census (IWC) has run since 1967 and today covers over 25,000 sites in more than 100 countries coordinated internationally by Wetlands International. In each country national coordinators work with a network of professional and amateur counters to provide waterbird counts to the IWC. In total, more than 15,000 people submit their data annually, making this one of the largest global monitoring schemes largely based on citizen science.

In Bulgaria the census will be held for 39th consecutive year and will cover more than 200 wetlands including the Danube, the Black Sea coast, and all major dams and rivers in the interior. The results will give us the answer to the question "More or less are the birds in the country this winter and what the main threats to them are?"

This winter there are rapid changes in temperature - from freezing cold to positive degrees in early January. These climate changes influence the number of wintering waterbirds in the country. In recent weeks, we observed several interesting and rare bird species that came from the north to winter here. Among them are Tundra swan, Ggreat Bustard, Little Bustard, Lesser White-fronted Geese, and Red-breasted Geese. Near Burgas a Brent Goose was observed - this is only the sixth observation of this species for our country.

These days in our country are registered more than 20,000 of the globally threatened Red-breasted Geese, which is nearly 40% of the global number of the species. This winter brought a lot of surprises and changes – couple of thousands of Redbreasts reached Hungary while in NW Black Sea area there were very few, there were Redbreasts in Kalmykia in November so the flocks had stretched over thousands of kilometers from East to West. The populations of Bewick’s Swan also shows changes in its distribution with declining numbers in Western Europe and some increase in wintering numbers in SE Europe which is out of the traditional flyway boundaries of the species

Partners in the census in Bulgaria are Executive Environment Agency (ExEA), Balkani Wildlife Society, Bulgarian Ornithological Center, and Green Balkans.

The Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) will also play a significant role in the implementation of the census, providing cars and experts. National Gamegrowing Station "DIKCHAN" assists the census in the area of the Mesta River and Dospat Dam.


© Viktor Vasilev
© Bas Highes