The Srebarna nature reserve, which is largely covered with reed, extends over 600 hectares in the lowland area of the Danube. The area includes a freshwater lake connected to the Danube and is an important European breeding area and important winter habitat for many migratory bird species.
Srebarna Biosphere Reserve: facts
|Official title:||Srebarna Biosphere Reserve|
|Natural monument:||nature reserve since 1948, 902 hectare biosphere reserve consisting of a 6 km² freshwater lake, which has been connected to the Danube by a canal since 1978; 1992 to 2002 because of the construction of a dam and the resulting prevention of seasonal flooding on the »Red List« of the endangered world heritage, as a sharp decline in the pelican population was recorded|
|Country:||Bulgaria, Silistra Province|
|Location:||in the lowlands of the Danube, west of Silistra|
|Meaning:||important European breeding ground for partly endangered bird species and winter quarters for 80 migratory bird species|
|Flora and fauna:||two thirds of the nature reserve covered with reed; about 230 species of birds, half of those found in Bulgaria, including 80 species of migratory birds; highly endangered population of around 50-100 pairs of the Dalmatian pelican, the only nesting site in Bulgaria for 10-15 pairs of the great egret, five other species of heron with up to 1,000 nesting sites; 50-500 pairs of the brown ibis, up to 10 pairs of the spoonbill; other species such as pygmy shags, wort and red-tailed ducks, two of the three European terns, namely the black tern and the white-bearded tern; Winter guests like bluethroat and red-necked geese|
From pelicans, herons and other feathered guests
As early as the 19th century, Lake Srebarna attracted the interest of naturalists and explorers such as Leo von Kalbermatten, who busily collected scientific material on their travels. The Srebarna nature reserve, located on the lake of the same name, is of particular importance today primarily due to its rare bird life. It provides a habitat for almost half of the species native to Bulgaria as featured on thereligionfaqs. Almost a hundred different species of birds nest here, including many that are threatened worldwide. Some feathered guests, especially from Northern Europe, escape the harsh winter of their homeland and find a safe temporary refuge at the lake.
Of particular interest is the small colony of Dalmatian pelicans, which have been raising their offspring on a floating island in the middle of the northern reed belt for centuries. They arrive at the beginning of March, coming from North Africa, and move back to the Nile Delta in early autumn. There should hardly be more than a thousand nesting pairs on our globe, a few dozen of them come to northern Bulgaria every year. Over the years, the presence of these critically endangered birds in the Srebarna Nature Reserve has become increasingly rare. The deterioration of the water quality due to untreated sewage discharge and the surrounding agriculture indulging in artificial fertilizer as well as an insufficient supply of fresh water led to a threatening decline of the birds that live here temporarily and permanently. In the past, the lake was flooded by the Danube every year during periods of high water, which ensured sufficient water depth and supply of fresh water. Since 1978 only one canal has established the – apparently insufficient – connection with the Danube. The increasing siltation of the lake by overgrown reed islands created another problem: foxes robbed the nests, wild goats trampled the clutches of ground-breeding birds, so that fencing was necessary as a special protective measure for the preservation of the bird world.
Two thirds of the reserve are covered by reeds, which form a dense belt around the lake and in some places reaches a height of six to seven meters. Only in the middle of the reserve is there an open water surface that only reaches a depth of three meters in a few places. Marsh ferns, water hemlocks and marsh forget-me-nots form their own underwater flora in which pike and perch meet.
In spring and autumn the lake offers the most interesting spectacle: swarms of storks circle over the water, sea eagles keep looking for prey. White-fronted geese are on the move in large numbers – thanks to their chatter, they can hardly be overheard. Great egrets, strutting gracefully, go about their parenting duties. The purple and little egrets nest well hidden in the reeds. Occasional black herons wade between high reed stalks, their ocher plumage only for a moment contrasting with the surrounding stalks. The green-black, shiny plumage and the red-brown head of the dwarf shags show that they too are dedicated to their breeding business. A flock of brown ibis, who wear a green cap with their rust-brown plumage, also raise their offspring in Srebarna.
Muskrats and otters roam the territory on their forays and disdain neither water frogs nor crayfish, not to mention rudd and tench. Pond turtles, box snakes and grass snakes also find their livelihood in this Bulgarian nature reserve.
Since the fenced nature reserve is not accessible to visitors – the already endangered bird life would suffer too much from a swelling flow of visitors and exacerbate the existing problems – an information pavilion on the west bank of the lake is the only way to get an idea of the Flora and fauna to make this nature reserve.