Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna

Breeding season 2016 of new established Griffon Vulture colonies in Bulgaria

The new colonies represent more than 20 % of the national population of Griffon Vultures, which, together with the colony in the Eastern Rhodopes, has exceeded the psychological border of 100 pairs in 2016.
 
A total of 24 pairs, located in 6 small colonies, were established in three of the areas, where Griffon Vulture reintroduction has been initiated since 2010 – Vrachanski Balkan, Kresna Gorge and the Eastern Balkan Mountians (Sliven and Kotel).
 
The leader remains the area of Vrachanski Balkan, where more than 44 Griffon Vultures can be seen. At least 10 pairs have established two small colonies. Georgi Stoyanov of the Birds of Prey Protection Society (BPPS) reports that at the beginning of March, a total of 7 pairs have laid eggs and three more are preparing their nests. There are new nesting sites of the species close to Vratsa and the village of Dolno Ozirovo, in the Vrachanski karst Reserve and the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park. Nesting of birds, which have not been released within the project but coming from other Balkan colonies (one of them known to have hatched in Croatia and tagged in Israel) has been confirmed for the first time.
 
We hope that 2016 will break the record of 2015, when the very first baby Griffon Vulture (Michel) was born in the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria after more than 60 years of absence.
 
The second place is taken by the common territory of the Eastern Balkan Mountains, where the Griffon Vultures use the areas of Kotlenska planina and the Sinite kamani Nature Park. Luchezar Bonchev of FWFF and Iliyan Stoev of Green Balkans report some 35 birds present in the area, which have formed 7 breeding pairs in two colonies. Four of the pairs have already laid eggs and the other three are preparing. There are other adult birds, which could potentially form additional pairs and it is also possible that some of them are already incubating in nests we have not located until now.
 
The third place, with good chance to move ahead, goes to Kresna Gorge, where 7 pairs have been formed, while a some 40 birds are regularly seen. Hristo Peshev of FWFF reports 3 incubating pairs and 4 others, preparing for laying. The pairs are located in two small colonies. This site has also attracted vultures from other Balkan colonies. One of the birds was marked in Greece, while two others have no tags, which indicates that they were not released within any restoration project.
 
The Griffon Vulture restoration activities in the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria and the Kresna Gorge are carried out by Green Balkans, the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna and the Birds of Prey Protection Society, supported also by the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park and the Sinite kamani Nature Park. The actions are co-funded by the financial instrument LIFE of the European Commission, within the Vultures Back to LIFE14 NAT/BG/649, LIFE for Kresna Gorge LIFE11 NAT/BG/363 and the recently completed Vultures Return in Bulgaria LIFE08 NAT/BG/278 Projects.
The latter was selected among the Best LIFE Nature projects in Europe for 2015, to acknowledge the great success in restoring Griffon Vulture in the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria.
 
For more information, please contact:
Elena Kmetova-Biro – Green Balkans – ekmetova@greenbalkans.org
Emiliyan Stoynov – Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna – pirin@fwff.org
Georgi Stoyanov – Birds of Prey Protection Society – bpps@abv.bg