Photo: © Dimitar Gradinarov/BSPB

In early July 2023, a team from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) organized a boat expedition along the Danube River to monitor the populations of rare bird species, including the iconic Dalmatian Pelican. This year’s goal was also to raise awareness among local communities about the conservation of the species and the river, through events held at two nesting sites – Persina Nature Park and the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area.

Photo: © Dimitar Gradinarov/BSPB

The study began at the mouth of the Timok River and concluded in the city of Silistra. The expedition is organized annually in collaboration with other organizations and state institutions, aiming to conduct monitoring and gather data on cormorant and heron colonies on the Danube Islands, as well as nesting sites of the White-tailed Eagle. It also covers riverbank habitats where species like the Common and Little Tern, Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Oystercatcher, and more nest. Special attention was given to the Dalmatian and Great white pelican, which congregate in the area during this time of year.

In 2023, the expedition had another crucial mission – to draw attention to the need for the conservation of the endangered Dalmatian Pelican and its habitats. Therefore, during the expedition, a significant stop was made in Belene and Tutrakan, where the BSPB team organized events for children to introduce them to the species.

Photo: © Iordanka Lukanova/BSPB

A film dedicated to the expedition and the work with children can be found HERE.

Thanks to unified conservation efforts, Dalmatian Pelicans are now nesting in three places in the country – Lake Srebarna, Persin Island, and the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area. This is one of the most remarkable conservation achievements not only in Bulgaria but also in Europe, showcasing how collaboration between governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations can lead to exceptional results.

With its riparian forests and valuable habitats, the Danube River forms an essential biocorridor that attracts hundreds of bird species. Each year, millions of birds follow the Danube during their spring and autumn migration from and to distant nesting and wintering grounds. Only the Lower Danube and the Danube Delta provide habitats for about 360 bird species, including the rare Dalmatian Pelican.

The expedition along the Danube River and the creation of the film are part of the activities carried out in the framework of the “Pelican Way of LIFE” project (LIFE18/NAT/NL/000716), funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union and with the assistance of the Whitley Fund for Nature.

BSPB expresses gratitude to our partners and friends from the Tutrakan Tourism Development Association for their assistance in organizing the expedition and the children’s event!