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New Species of Heron in the Heron's Colony in Kardzhali

A new species of heron is nesting in the unique colony of herons on Arda River in Kardzhali. Bulgarian experts from New Thracian Gold  project (NTG) and a team from the Dutch Crossbill Guides Foundation observed the Squacco Herons, which were previously only registered as a migratory species in the Eastern Rhodopes. The Dutch team is working on Crossbill guidebook of the Eastern Rhodopes. One of the routes they intend to include in their guidebook starts at the heron colony.

The Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) is listed as an endangered species in the Red Book of Bulgaria. It nests only in mixed colonies of herons and pygmy cormorant, by making its nest among reeds, willows or poplars. In the nesting colony in Kardzhali there are probably between one and three couples. Their nests are located in the reeds making it difficult to determine the number. Their exact number will become clear when the young fly out from their nests.

Until now in this Karzhali heron colony nested Little Egret, Little Bittern, Night Heron and Pigmy Cormorant. This year, pairs of the globally threatened pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus) have increased from 7 to 32. The Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) also increased their numbers.

The mixed heron colony in Kardzhali is the only Bulgarian colony located inside a city. As an island of biodiversity in the city center it is extremely attractive to eco-tourists and nature lovers.

 The protection of the special heron colony is subject of the project "The herons to remain herons in Kardzhali - depends on me" carried out by the National Cultural Center "Obedinenie 1913" - Kardzhali in partnership with the Municipality of Kardzhali, Association "Rhodopi Project", the local cable TV “CableTel”, the State Forestry Agency and "Otets Paisyi" School.

Read here about the birds in the Eastern Rhodopes

Снимки: Ралица Райкова

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