At the end of last year and at the beginning of January, a team of experts and volunteers from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) made a great effort to improve the nesting conditions of the protected Dalmatian pelican on the territory of the “Mandra-Poda” Special Protection Area.
Last winter the BSPB team built two floating platforms with a total area of 80 sq.m. in the oxidation ponds of “LUKOIL Neftochim Burgas” AD. These reservoirs are one of the most preferred places for resting for the Dalmatian pelicans in the Burgas Lakes region. There the birds are not disturbed by people, which is extremely important for this species. Happily, the pelicans accepted the new floating platforms very quickly and extremely well, so they instantly became a favorite roosting and resting place for both Dalmatian and Great White pelicans.
In order to make them even more attractive to the birds before the start of the new breeding season, this winter the team inspected them and managed to mow a sufficient amount of reeds to cover the floating platforms. Thus, they resemble the natural reed islands, which are one of the favorite nesting places of the Dalmatian pelicans. Additionally, the team partially covered by reed two old platforms located in the easternmost basin of the oxidation ponds.
“We were happy to see that in the following days nearly 200 Dalmatian pelicans, most of them adults in breeding plumage, came to the platforms for roosting. Some of the birds moved the reeds with interest and displayed typical mating behavior. This is a good sign and we will continue to monitor the platforms and the situation in the area with interest in the coming weeks”, says Svilen Cheshmedziev, project manager at the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. “We are also very much grateful to all the volunteers who joined us in this difficult task!”
With a new breeding platform recently built by BSPB team in the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area, and also a new one constructed in the Danube delta by Rewilding Ukraine team, the Pelican Way of LIFE initiative is helping to improve nesting conditions for the Dalmatian pelicans along the Mediterranean-Black Sea flyway right before the breeding season that will start soon. The platforms replace natural islands, which were once abundant, but due to the large-scale destruction of floodplains throughout Europe, there are not many left. So while conservationists work to restore floodplains, pelicans can find temporary shelter on nesting platforms.
The conservation activities on the Dalmatian pelican are carried out in the framework of the “Pelican Way of LIFE” initiative (LIFE18/NAT/NL/000716), ensuring the comeback of this keystone species along the Black-Sea Mediterranean Flyway. The initiative is funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union and Arcadia Foundation, and with the assistance in Bulgaria of the Whitley Fund for Nature.