Fewer griffon vultures were counted this year at the annual census of griffon vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. This year, barely 145 griffon vultures were counted along Arda River in Rhodope Mountains rewilding area, 40 fewer than in 2016. The area is home of the largest colony of griffon vultures in Bulgaria. Last year a record number of 178 griffon vultures were sighted,the highest registered during the annual roost count in the Eastern Rhodopes since 2005.
41 experts and volunteers took part in the traditional census of Griffon Vultures on the Balkan Peninsula. In Bulgaria, the annual monitoring also covers places for reintroduction sites where the species have returned. In the areas Kresna Gorge, Sinite kamani, Vratsa Mountains and Kotlenski Balkan were registered a total of 114 birds. In 2016 there were 123 reintroduced and wild birds.
The census itself took place last Saturday of November in bad meteorological conditions, which affected the results. Much of the main rocky complexes used for overnight were covered with thick fogs and clouds which prevented the estimation of the exact number. The census took place a week later due to bad weather forecast.
The counting takes place at the beginning of winter when the vultures’ breeding period begins and its purpose is to determine the population of Griffon Vultures in the Balkans as well as their age structure. Only 17 birds were counted in the Greek part of the Eastern Rhodopes; in Western Greece the number of Griffon Vultures is 96. Thus, the total number of Griffon vultures counts on the Balkan Peninsula without Serbia to date is 391 birds.
The traditional census of the Griffon Vultures on the Balkan Peninsula has been held since 2005. This is the 13th census that took place during the weekend. Organizer and coordinator is BSPB in partnership with nature conservation organizations from Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Macedonia.