At about 3.15 PM on 2 January 2020, while carrying out a bird survey around Durankulak Lake, I observed and photographed a single Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in a ploughed field on the north-western edge of the lake (see photo).
Presumably this is the same bird that was first seen on 28 December 2019 by Peter Carnall, a British guest of Bed & Birding lakeside accommodation in NE Bulgaria. Indeed, Peter was lucky enough to spot a flying Great Bustard at about 7.35 AM and only 100 meters from the window of Branta Birding Lodge facing Durankulak Lake. The sighting was later confirmed by other birdwatchers and avian specialists from Bulgaria, Great Britain and Romania and already two weeks the bird is still feeding in the same field - where farmers are growing “Roman camomile (Chamaemelum nobile)”.
The bird is now inhabiting the epicentre of the local hunting zone and is highly visible.
Bed & Birding is launching an appeal, asking conservationists and volunteers to become a “Great Bustard defender” by joining our team locally to ensure a permanent patrol in the area, using 4WD vehicles around Durankulak lake to prevent hunters from killing this rare and protected bird!
Today, 15 January 2020, Bed & Birding subsequently received an important boost from two avian specialists Emil Todorov and Sebastian Bugariu coming from Romania to join our volunteer team. As the fog was very thick, however, we couldn’t locate the Great Bustard in its favourite chamomile field. We were very surprised when the Bed and Birding PR manager Tatyana called us to join our birdwatching guests staying in the lodge who had spotted the bird just 60 meters from the window of their room.
Fortunately, and due to the morning mist, hunters were not there and the bird flew across the lake and landed in a safe steppe habitat further south.
Over the coming days we will accommodate more volunteers in the lodge, which will ensure vigilant control of the area.