Pygmy Cormorant count in Plovdiv

The Pygmy Cormorant is a medium-sized colonial fish-eating bird. In Bulgaria there are nesting, migrant, wandering and wintering individuals of the species. There is a high probability that a part of the resident Pygmy Cormorants fly away to Turkey and Greece for the winter, while birds from the Danube Delta migrate over the country to their wintering grounds in Greece. At present the species can be seen across the country throughout the year. Bulgaria is of key importance as a wintering ground for a part the global population of the species, and as a section of its migration route between its nesting and wintering sites. The species has a Least Concern status in the global Red List of IUCN (BirdLife International, 2012), and figures as endangered in the Bulgarian Red Data Book. In winter it disperses along the banks of rivers, brooks and still water bodies and along the sea coast too; the birds roost together on high trees or in the reedbeds.


The objective of the survey on the numbers and the seasonal dynamics of the Pygmy Cormorant in the region of the city of Plovdiv is to gather reliable information for the seasonal changes in the numbers of the species, as well as for the threats and status of the area as its largest inland roost. Data from the last 14 years is analyzed.


The monitoring takes place between November and April; its exact duration depends on the number of individuals in that particular year; it can start or end at different dates. The survey is carried out along the course of Maritza River west of the city of Plovdiv.


The count at the roost of the Pygmy Cormorant is performed twice a month with a window of no less than ten and no more than twenty days between counts. It can start between 2:30 pm and 4 pm depending on the hour of the sunset – the earlier the sun sets, the earlier the count starts. The activity ends after sunset when the birds stop flying due to the growing darkness.