Protected area "Harsovska reka"

Description

The rocky dry riverbed of the Harsovska Reka, located in Dobrudzha, south-east of the town of Silistra. To the north it reaches the village of Voynovo, to the south – the village of Bezmer,covering the dry riverbed to the east of the village of Prusanovo up to the village of Sredishte.

The area represents a dry river valley, where the waters disappear in the karst terrain. Aconsiderable part of the valley (mainly the hilltops) is covered by primary oak forests of Quercuscerris, at places mixed with Quercus pubescens and Quercus virgiliana. The riverbed is overgrown with mixed forests of Carpinus betulus and Acer campestre, some secondary forestsand shrubs of Carpinus orientalis, as well as artificial poplar plantations.

The meadows along the riverbed are covered by xerothermal grasslands, dominated by Dichantium ischaemum, Poabulbosa, etc. and more rarely – by meso-xerothermal vegetation. At many places along the riverbed there are single low rocks and rock massifs, which in the southern and northern ends of the area rise to 60–70 m. Agricultural plots, surround the riverbeds.

The birds in the protected area

The SPA Harsovska Reka supports 109 bird species, 28 of which are listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. The area provides suitable habitats for 31 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity which need special conservation measures, of which 30 are listed also in Annex I ofthe Birds Directive.

The Harsovska dry riverbed is one of the most important sites in the country for the Lesser Spotted Eagle. At least 5-7 LSE pairs breed within the SPA. The SPA is also one of the most important sites in the country for the Ruddy Shelduck, Levant Sparrowhawk, Black Kite and Long-legged Buzzard, where these species breed in considerable numbers.

A complex of species, typical of open and transitional habitats is presented in Harsovska Reka with significant breeding populations as well – Ortolan Bunting, Roller, Woodlark, Tawny Pipit,Red-backed Shrike and Lesser Grey Shrike. Many years ago the region used to host breeding Griffon Vultures and Golden Eagles.

Soaring birds use the dry valley of the Harsovska Reka as migration corridor as part of the Via Pontica migration flyway. The area is important migration and stop over site, similarly as the neighboring SPAs “Ludogorie” and “Suha reka”.

Despite complete studies on migration in the area not having been done, it is known that White Storks pass through here, as well as raptors, mostly Lesser-spotted Eagles, but also globally threatened Pallid Harrier, Greater-spotted Eagle and Saker Falcon.

Threats to the protected area

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Disturbance

The site is sensitive to human activities which cause disturbance to birds, especially to those which nests on the rocks–rock climbing, gliding, hang-gliding, illegal treasure hunting, tourism activities during the breeding season.

Intensive forestry activities in the vicinity of the breeding territories, as well as illegal cutting affect the structure and quality offorest habitats and disturb the birds during the breeding season

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Poaching

Raptors and owls are subject to illegal shooting for trophies. Another threat to birds is nests robbery.

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Intensive agriculture

 The agriculture is intensive with use of pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides and even poison that directly affects birds or their food base. One of the threats to the birds in the area is the wind farm development–74 are planned around SPA.