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Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in Kresna gorge, Bulgaria, May 19, 2014. Photo: Hristo Peshev/FWFF

A Black Vulture observed for second subsequent year in Kresna Gorge. Is the species coming back?

Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in Kresna gorge, Bulgaria, May 19, 2014. Photo: Hristo Peshev/FWFF

Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in Kresna gorge, Bulgaria, May 19, 2014. Photo: Hristo Peshev/FWFF

The Black Vulture – the largest European bird of prey species, got extinct for 50 years in southwest Bulgaria. On May 19, 2014 an immature specimen has been observed in Kresna Gorge to use the feeding site established and maintained by FWFF. The bird took food together with the Griffon Vultures released in the Gorge within the LIFE for Kresna Gorge project. This is second subsequent year the Black Vulture is observed in Kresna Gorge. Last year Black Vulture was observed twice 05-06 May 2013 and 28 May 2013.
The Black Vulture’s conservation status is Near Threatened (IUCN) and the last known nesting in southwest Bulgaria was 50 years ago. The last observations of single specimen were in 2013 and 1997 in Kresna Gorge and in 2001 near the village of Mikrevo. On the Balkans the only small breeding colony is found in the Dadia Forest (Northeastern Greece) as the birds there are often going north to Bulgaria at the supplementary feeding sites in Eastern Rodopes.
The upward trend in observation of Black Vultures on the feeding sites in Kresna Gorge is due to the persistent conservation efforts of FWFF on vultures’ protection and return to the wild. LIFE for Kresna Gorge LIFE11 NAT/BG/000363, a five years project of FWFF, made it possible through creation of feeding sites for vultures, releasing of more than 30 Griffon Vultures in the Gorge and building of Wildlife Center in the village of Rakitna. nbm

Three species of vultures in Kresna Gorge – a result of FWFF work

In May 2013 for the first time for more than 50 years three species out of the four European species of vultures could be seen in Kresna Gorge. The Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) was re-introduced by FWFF since 2010 and now more then 20 individuals are regularly present.

On 5-th and 6-th of May 2013 the very rare in the region Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) appeared in the area attracted by the Griffon Vultures and the feeding site. Probably the same young non marked bird was again present at the feeding site on 28-th of May, showing it likes the place. On 21-th May for the first time for 2013 an adult Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) visited the feeding site and now is frequently present.

This is a great success for FWFF to return these species in the Kresna Gorge after the Black and Griffon Vultures were extinct from the area some 50-60 years ago and the Egyptian Vulture last pair bred in 2003. Thus Kresna Gorge is now one of the very few places in Europe, where the three species could be seen together, especially in combination with wild wolves (Canis lupus) (also frequently present at the feeding site).

Since 2012 the project “LIFE for Kresna Gorge” is co-funded by the LIFE financial instrument of EU and private donors as Friends of Vienna Zoo, Austria and BIOPARC Zoo de Doue, France. www.fwff.org/lifeforkresnagorge    

Transhumance Festival in Kotel, 7-th May 2013

The Transhumance Celebration Days Kotel 2013 was held on the 7th May. About two hundred guests and participants have joined the sheep herd of 450 animals going up to the mountain pastures for the summer period. Within the three hours there were organized competitions for the best shepherd dog and the most useful shepherd’s objects as well as the fastest cutting of sheep. More than 20 guests took a part in the competitions and the best of them got the desirable money prizes.
The very famous Bulgarian singer Galina Durmushliiska has presented unforgettable songs from the Bulgarian folklore. A group of girls has entertained the public with the authentic Karakachan dances and songs. The guests tasted local products from the eco-farm of FWFF- cheese, yogurt and honey.
The moment all were waiting was passing of 450 sheep and the famous final song of Galina “Zableialo mi agance”.
. Transhumance is believed to be more economically effective and of highest nature conservation importance. As avoid overgrazing in the lowlands and keep the mountain pastures opened. Many species of plants, birds and mammals are threatened of extinction due to habitat loss. This is especially well documented regarding the pastoral habitats in mountains and lowlands. Species like Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, European Souslik all listed as Vulnerable in IUCN Red list, are highly dependent on the existence of open habitats that are well grazed and so the diversity of plants and insects is high.
The Transhumance Celebration Days Kotel 2013 are financed under the project “Return the vultures” LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 and the tour company „Go Kotel”.

FWFF's Karakachan Sheep herd is passing the town of Kotel

Re-introduction of Suslik in Kotel Mountain

The European Ground Squirrel (Suslik) (Spermophilus citellus) is a Globally threatened species (IUCN Red List) that faced rapid decline in population in XX century. In Kotel Mountain the species disappeared in 1990-ies due to habitat degradation based on lack of grazing.

In 2011 the first 57 susliks were translaocated from the area of Sliven to the area of Urushki Skaly near Kotel and released in specially digged holes in the ground.

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Griffon Vultures released by FWFF observed in Macedonia and Eastern Rhodopi

During the summer several recoveries of Griffon Vultures released by FWFF were reported from FYR of Macedonia, Greece and Eastern Rhodopi in Bulgaria. These are as follows:

Griffon Vultures released by FWFF in Kresna Gorge:

Red ring G28 – observed in the end of August 2011 at the feeding site Vitachevo in FYR of Macedonia (data from Emanuel Lisichanets / Association AQUILA). This bird is released in February 2010 and was not observed after the release. From the same area one more red ring – G?? was reported but the number was not seen.

Red ring G39 – observed on 14.10.2011 at the feeding site Studen Kladenets in Eastern Rhodopi, Bulgaria (reported by Ivailo Angelov/ BSPB- BirdLife Bulgaria)

Griffon Vultures released by FWFF in Kotel:

Green ring B19 – observed several times in Eastern Rhodopi. Last seen 16.10.2011 at the feeding site Studen Kladenets in Eastern Rhodopi, Bulgaria (reported by Ivailo Angelov/ BSPB- BirdLife Bulgaria)

Yellow ring K0M – observed several times in Eastern Rhodopi in Bulgaria and Dadia Greece. Seen 05.06.2011 at the feeding site Studen Kladenets in Eastern Rhodopi, Bulgaria (reported by Ivailo Angelov/ BSPB- BirdLife Bulgaria)

Yellow ring K0H – observed on 07.09.2011 by Volen Arkumarev/ BSPB at the feeding site Studen Kladenets in Eastern Rhodopi, Bulgaria (reported by Ivailo Angelov/ BSPB- BirdLife Bulgaria)

Blue ring F08 – observed in the end of August 2011 at the feeding site Vitachevo in FYR of Macedonia (data from Emanuel Lisichanets / Association AQUILA).

Griffon Vulture marked in Israel was observed at the feeding site in Kresna Gorge

A young Griffon Vulture with wing-tag L02 was observed today (17.10.2011) at the feeding site in Kresna Gorge. Knowing the marking pattern used in the different countries,  the bird is most probably marked in Israel. It is first time a Griffon Vulture marked in Israel to be observed in Kresna Gorge.

Today in total 7 Griffon Vultures and about 50 ravens were present at the feeding site in Kresna Gorge.

 

 

5 juvenile Griffon Vultures present in Kresna Gorge on 15.10.2011

Five juvenile Griffon Vultures born in 2011 were observed at feeding site and later on roosting in Kresna Gorge on 15.10.2011.

The birds were not marked, but they most probably originate from Serbia or Croatia and use the Kresna Gorge as stepping stone during their migration towards Bosporus. From Bosporus these Griffon Vultures will most probably continue to their wintering grounds in Middle East or Africa.