© Zlatin Trendafilov

The results of the Midwinter Waterfowl Census in Bulgaria are in. The numbers are higher compared to last year’s edition, with 90 different species represented by 206,688 fowl.

The 46th edition of the census in Bulgaria took place between January 13 and 16. Forty-two teams made up of experts and volunteers from the BSPB, the Executive Environment Agency, the NGO Green Balkans, regional inspectorates of environment and water, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, hunting associations, and NGO members collected data from more than 200 wetlands.

Similar to previous years, the highest numbers of birds were registered along the Black Sea coast and close to the larger inland reservoirs. Relatively few species and low numbers were spotted along the Danube, due to the high water at the time of the census having flooded the sandpits, which normally tend to attract thousands of birds. Although many reservoirs and fishponds were frozen, the census registered higher numbers of waterfowl compared to 2021.

Блатна сова, © Валентин Катранджиев

Блатна сова, © Валентин Катранджиев

The campaign counted 5,851 Greater white-fronted geese and 32 of the endangered Red-breasted geese. In 2021, the numbers for the two species were 2,017 and 48 respectively, while in 2020 they were 3,300 and 322. The highest number of Red-breasted geese in Bulgaria, over 54,000, was registered in 2013.

The three most numerous waterfowl species in 2022 were the Mallard (43,165 birds), the Eurasian coot (28,514 birds), and the endangered Common pochard (26,206 birds). With just over 90 percent of the collected data processed so far, the total number of waterfowl is put at 206,688. The two previous censuses counted 190,147 birds in 2021 and 226,636 in 2020. These numbers are by far lower compared to 404,410 waterfowl counted in 1999 and 652,418 in 2000.

Голяма черноглава чайка,

Голяма черноглава чайка, © Михаил Илиев

The Red-breasted goose and the Common pochard were just two of the globally endangered species. The census also counted two Velvet scoters, four Horned grebes, 1,112 White-headed ducks and 1,490 Yelkouan shearwaters. The more curious findings included a Black-backed gull, a Great white pelican, nine Ferruginous ducks, 849 Dalmatian pelicans, 17,550 Pygmy cormorants, 84 Pallas’s gulls and 173 Ruddy shelducks. Twenty-nine White-tailed eagles, a species listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria, were also registered.

Карта - обхват

The BSPB and their partners observed birds that typically do not winter in Bulgaria. They included a Squacco heron, 31 Little egrets, 11 White and 18 Black storks, two Sandwich terns and one Common tern.

The Midwinter Waterfowl Census has been conducted in almost all European countries since 1967 and involves more than 15,000 people every year.

More information on the trends and numbers of individual species can be found here: http://wpe.wetlands.org/

© Златин Маринов

© Zlatin Trendafilov