[Dora Querido completes her reporting from Bulgaria – at least for the moment]
... and it all went by so fast! I had reached my last week in Bulgaria and was visiting the Burgas Lake LIFE project.
Most of the work of this project is concentrated in the Poda Protected Area, the 'heart of the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds' as they like to say themselves. Poda has the ideal combination for a fantastic reserve - it looks like a mini Minsmere, but with a big city nearby that likes to be seen as green and sustainable and with a lot of tourists! As if this wasn’t enough, the area is a hot spot for migratory birds too. What more can you wish for?
As with most wetlands, especially the small ones, a lot of work goes in to maintaining reed bed habitat; as RSPB's Geoff Welch and I found out, this is not a job that Bulgarian companies are used to doing. Geoff has been helping the project to design open water areas and we were happy to see the first one hectare pool finished. As we went around the reserve, Yurii Kornilev, the BSPB biodiversity officer, told us how difficult it was to make the digger operators understand what they were being asked to do and we realised that the new open area of water represent a big victory!
Poda Reserve (Dora Querido)
Especially after visiting all of the projects, it's clear that a lot of the obstacles encountered are because conservationists are trying to do something that has never done before in this country. By hearing Yurii’s tales, Geoff went back almost 20 years ago to when he was the reserve manager of Minsmere and had to train digger operators to create shallow banks and curvy loops – they were used to working in straight lines! I can see the pain and frustration that comes with being a pioneer and couldn’t help feeling proud of the RSPB and the amazing work we help develop.
The other special feature of Burgas is the Salinas, the most northerly of Europe’s salt pans still active and an amazing habitat for waders. They also provide an excellent example of how well business and nature can work side by side.
Salinas salt pans (Dora Querido)
During the rest of the week, Geoff delivered a Management Plan Workshop for BSPB staff and I was more than happy to attend. And guess what, Geoff’s workshop also made the news!