The second volunteer conservation camp organized by the Directorate of the “Persina” Nature Park as part of the “Pelican Way of Life” initiative has successfully concluded. It was attended by students from the Erasmus+ project at “Dimcho Debelianov” High School in Belene.
The camp took place from August 27th to August 30th, 2023, and included a combination of fieldwork and lectures held at the Visitor Center of the “Persina” Nature Park. These lectures were expertly prepared and delivered by the park’s experts.
During the camp, same as last year, the volunteers actively participated in monitoring the diverse species inhabiting the wetlands of Persin Island. They learned bird-watching techniques and had the opportunity to observe fascinating species, including the Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), and many others. Their observations included distinguishing between juvenile and adult birds, tracking animal feeding behavior and also behavior at the face of danger.
One of the camp’s primary objectives was to identify and count the Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus) within the “Pescina” Marsh colony. The camp aimed to raise awareness among participants about potential threats facing the pelicans on the island and the conservation measures being undertaken within the “Persina” Nature Park.
The camp also featured a presentation on one of the unique habitats under the care of the “Persina” Nature Park Directorate, the Pannonic Inland Dunes (designated as 2340*). Preserving this habitat is a conservation priority, and restoration efforts include controlling the spread of invasive plant species like the bush amorpha (Amorpha fruticosa). Current maintenance efforts involve removing these plants and their remnants from specific locations on the island.
During one of the field days, participants had the opportunity to observe the management of water levels in the island’s marshes. They learned about the system responsible for ensuring adequate water supply to the wetland, which is crucial for waterfowl species like the Dalmatian pelican and other colonial nesting birds on the island. The maintenance of the wetland area on Persin Island is a vital and responsible task carried out by the “Persina” Nature Park Directorate.
In addition to fieldwork and observations, the camp included informative lectures on pelicans, their history of return to Persin Island, and the categorization of protected areas in Bulgaria according to the Protected Areas Act, among other topics.
Towards the end of the camp, volunteers were introduced to another big initiative, “DANUBEWILDislands,” aimed at preserving the natural state of Danube islands. This initiative ensures the connectivity of the river as a complete biocorridor, providing oases for migratory animal species and a refuge against changing climatic conditions. Within the “Persina” Nature Park, the Milka and Kitka reserves serve as benchmarks representing entirely natural ecosystems. All activities within these reserves are prohibited to maintain their pristine nature. For more information on the wild islands and their importance to the river, please visit the project website.
The “Persina” NP Directorate also extends an invitation to participate in a survey taking place in all Danube countries to learn more about the Danube and enhance your knowledge. This volunteer camp is part of the international initiative “Pelican Way of Life” dedicated to the conservation of Dalmatian Pelicans, and another camp is planned for the coming year. The initiative (LIFE18/NAT/NL/000716) 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.