Monday 24 May 2021

The Black Sea Obs Project

So that's it for now from Bulgaria Spring 2021. A superb trip and managed to progress the Black Sea Obs Project (Project outline at end of this post). Dimiter organised the boundary survey before I arrived and I managed to complete a basic habitat survey and commence both moth recording and nocturnal migration recording (We also received good news today in that we will be collaborating with Magnus Robb and the SOUND APPROACH on the noc-mig who have sponsored our own SM4 continuous recorder- thank you Mark Constantine! ). I also completed some preliminary habitat management plans in addition to populating various Ebird spots with data that we will be working on. 

Here's a drone video of our plot showing the context, we've got approx 2000m2 of this ( shown in facebook video below). 

Very much looking forward to returning in Autumn 2021! 

Anybody interested in collaborating/ volunteering on this project please contact me and if you would like to donate to or sponsor this project please do so HERE (Many thanks in advance). 

Dawn at the project site with singing Nightingale, Golden Oriole, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Corn Bunting, Skylark and Pheasant. 


Project: Black Sea Observatory (Bulgaria) 


Aims and Objectives: To set up a recording station to monitor bird migration and local biodiversity in the Dobrudja region of Bulgaria on the Black Sea Coast. To develop a small lodge/cabin and enhance the garden/grounds for biodiversity. This project is a satellite project to the Balkan Ecology Project and also part of LITTLE OAK GROUP


Background: I've been working with my brother on the Balkan Ecology Project (in the Valley of the Roses) for the last ten years. The project has purchased several hectares of land there to protect it and also to develop wildlife-friendly farming. My brother and family runs regular residential courses through the year and also a plant nursery and permaculture small holdings. We've set up bird and ecological monitoring systems there and have run bird and wildlife tours/events etc. The Black Sea project is a satellite project of that and we will be developing the project site in partnership with both Balkep (who will do the landscaping and any permaculture elements to the project) and Neophron Bird Tours Neophron plan to use the site for photography tours and we also plan to extend the site by purchasing more land next to the site that we have currently purchased. Neophron are dealing with the logistics, legal matters, translation, planning etc. Currently we own 2000m2 at the Black Sea coast site but hope to expand the site.


Additional Details: We plan to visit the site in both the spring and autumn migrations and hope to attract volunteers to cover much of the migration period. The project site is located conveniently (10-15 min drive) to monitor bird migration at Cape Kaliakra (the Spurn of the Black Sea) , the Shabla Lake Complex, Shabla headland, Yaylata Archeological Reserve and also Kamen Bryag (the project village location) and surrounding villages. The area is a Natura2000 location and is located within the Bulgarian steppe habitat (a rare remnant habitat).


We plan to study the following aspects:


1) Bird migration- daily counts recorded on Ebird during Spring and Autumn migrations 

2) Moths trapping for local and migrant species (also recording local butterflies)

3) Recording of local herpetology 

4) Nocturnal bird migration sound recording

5) Casual recording of other biodiversity in region (botanically the area is very important). We suspect there might be wildcats in the region too so will camera trap for mammals.


We also plan to develop the following:


1) A residential lodge/ research cabin

2) An area of improved habitat including meadows, water feature, trees, hedge and shrubs

3) To host tours, lead local tours and residential visits


Pipedream potential

We are building on existing success in the region with Balkep and Neophron and also proven working birding projects elsewhere such as Corvo/ Azores Birding and Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. More on our projects here LITTLE OAK GROUP and HERE .  We already own the land with no mortgage and have an allocated budget  to create the cabin and habitat improvements. We hope to crowd fund to buy additional land. We've been successfully working in Bulgaria for ten years already so in it for the long haul , got the right people for it, the seed money and the expertise so it's about as good as it gets.

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