At the very end of the last year, the team of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB)/Birdlife Bulgaria visited the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area with the mission of improving nesting conditions for the Dalmatian pelicans in the area.
The new stationary breeding platform was built in the middle of wetlands, which are dry this time of the year. The platform is large enough to accommodate a few dozen of pelicans’ nests. The BSPB team covered it with reeds, thus it resembles a natural island with vegetation and is more comfortable for the birds. The realistic dummy pelicans were produced and put on the platform to attract the first Dalmatian pelicans for staying there.
During the last decades more than two-thirds of the wetlands areas in Europe were dried and transformed, so the suitable breeding places of this keystone species have decreased significantly. In its turn, this causes the decrease of Dalmatian pelican population in the Mediterranean-Black Sea flyway. By constructing the artificial nesting platforms, the conservationists temporarily address this threat for the species, meanwhile working on the opportunity to restore its habitats on a large scale.
These platforms have proven to be attractive for the Dalmatian pelicans and have already helped to form new nesting colonies of the species in different wetland areas in Bulgaria. Thus in 2016, a new breeding colony of the species was formed in the Peschina swamp. Before that these iconic birds successfully bred in the country on Lake Srebarna only. In 2021, the Dalmatian pelicans successfully occupied the first platform built in the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area, forming their third breeding colony in Bulgaria.
“2022 turned out to be a record year for nesting of Dalmatian pelicans in the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area. Last year 30 pairs of birds successfully raised 30 juveniles. The lack of water, as well as the fires that broke out, failed to drive away the birds” said Svilen Cheshmedziev, project manager at the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. “We hope that during the coming breeding season, which will start soon, the pelicans will occupy the newly constructed platform as well. So, the local breeding colony of the species will increase even more.”
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.