A total of 99 pairs of Griffon vultures were counted during the regular monitoring of the population of the species along the Arda River valley, Eastern Rhodopes by experts of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB).
This is three pairs more than the last year. In February, BSPB teams visited all known present and historical breeding sites of the species in the Eastern Rhodopes. They registered 99 occupied nests by pairs of which 83 already incubating, and the rest still repairing and building their nests. The second stage of the monitoring will be held in May to monitor the number of juveniles. Griffon Vultures lay only one egg between January and February, and the chick hatches in March or April
During the monitoring, the BSPB team also observed a mating behavior of two pairs of Cinereous vultures on the feeding stations of “Studen kladenets” Game Reserve and near the village of Potochnitsa. The Cinereous vulture is no longer breeding in Bulgaria for decades. However, many birds coming from the only colony of the species in the Balkans in Dadia, Greece visit the feeding stations along the Arda river valley to feed there.. The improved food base, the conservation measures, the targeted efforts to attract them close to the Arda River valley, as well as the observed mating behavior of birds in recent seasons, give hope of returning of this majestic species to nest again in our country.
The first systematic data on the species was collected by the BSPB in the mid-1980s when the first targeted supplementary feedings for the vultures in Bulgaria began. Since then, a number of direct conservation measures taken by the BSPB in the Eastern Rhodopes have allowed the gradual increase of the Griffon Vulture colony from 10 pairs in 1991 to 99 pairs in the current 2020. The conservation of the Griffon Vulture in the Eastern Rhodopes is one of the most successful nature conservation initiatives in Bulgaria.
Currently, the vulture conservation activities in the Eastern Rhodopes are carried out within the LIFE project “Conservation of Black and Griffon Vultures in Rhodope mountains” implemented by the Rewilding Europe in partnership with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and the Rewilding Rhodopes.