Coordinated counting of the wintering geese in Ukraine, South-Eastern Romania and Bulgaria took place in the mid-February. Experts and volunteers of the project “Safe Flight joined forces and visited the most significant for the conservation of the wintering geese water bodies in the region.
The largest numbers of geese in the recent 2–3 years has been observed in Romania, due to the lack of hunting activities in the past 2 years. Experts and volunteers of the local BirdLife partner, Romanian Ornithological Society registered app. 500 000 geese in the visited areas. The endangered Red-breasted geese are almost 20 000, Greater White-fronted geese are 470 000, and Greylag goose are more than 6000. The greatest concentration of Red-breasted goose has been in the Braila area – app. 11 000 individuals and near the coastal lake of Sinoe – 6000 individuals. The greatest concentration of the Greater White-fronted geese was not far from Bulgaria, near Călărași – 99 000 individuals, and in Sinoe area – 100 000 individuals. Besides the three most numerous species, our colleagues in Romania observed the rare visitors in the area: Lesser White-fronted Goose, Tundra Bean Goose and Barnacle Goose.
The total number of the Red-breasted geese in Ukraine is almost 3500 individuals, concentrated mainly north of the Syvash lake. Greater White-fronted Geese are 58 000 individuals, which is a relatively large number compared to the previous census during the current and the last autumn-winter period. The largest number of the Greater White-fronted Geese (25 000) are observed in the area of the National Nature Park Tuzlovski Lymani and in Malyi Sasyk Laggon in particular. There were also 500 Red-breasted geese in the same spot.
The numbers of the wintering geese is lowest in Bulgaria – no more than 4000 Greater white-fronted geese and only 2 Red-breasted geese for the whole country. The main part of the birds has been observed in the Atanasovsko lake area near Burgas. In coastal Dobrudzha only 300 Greater White-fronted geese were observed. The Red-breasted geese – app. 550 individuals, were observed in the beginning of February but probably due to the disturbance in the feeding grounds they have moved north to Romania. In the Svishtov-Belen lowland there are no registered wintering geese.
The census is part of the project Conservation of the Red-breasted goose along the global Flyway (LIFE16/NAT/BG00847).