Protected area "Kotlenska Mountain"
The SPA Kotlenska planina is located in the central share of the Eastern Balkan. Its limits are defined by the rivers Ticha to the north, up to the point where it joins Ticha Dam, Stara Reka to the west and Luda Kamchia to the south. To the east the area reaches Varbishki Pass in its section from the village of Beronovo to the town of Varbitsa, and continues along the Varbitsa Byala Reka road passing at 1.5 km from the bank of Ticha Dam.
Many clearly formed secondary ridges with steep slopes and deeply cutting gorges and ravines descend from the main ridge of the mountain to the Ticha and Luda Kamchia river valleys. The terrain is steep and heavily indented. Ticha Dam is located in the northeastern part of Kotlenska Mountain.
The region is sparsely populated, mainly in its periphery and along the river valleys. About 23% of the mountain territory is occupied by primary broadleaved forests mainly of Fagus sylvatica subsp. moesiaca,at places mixed with Carpinus betulus. More limited are the forests of Quercus dalechampii, sometimes mixed with C. betulus and Carpinus orientalis, the mixed forests of Quercus cerrisand Quercus frainetto. A small location of natural mixed forests of White Fir Abies alba and Beech Fagus sylvatica has been established in the western part of the mountain. The secondary forests and shrubs of Oriental Hornbeam have a very limited distribution in the region. The rest of the territory is occupied by open grasslands, used as pastures and farmland.
Three types of grass associations dominate the grasslands: mesophyte, xero-mesophyte and xerothermic grass. A considerable part of the open areas, including the agricultural plots, have a secondary origin, i.e. they spread on territory previously occupied by old forests. The wet areas and the river valleys cover acomparatively small part of the mountain territory. The only wetland in the mountain is TichaReservoir, which is not fringed with marsh vegetation. Limestone rocks and karst formations are dispersed everywhere in the high mountain areas.
The birds in the protected area
The area provides suitable habitats for 182 bird species, 69 of which are listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. The area provides suitable habitats for 65 species, included in Annex 2 of theBiodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 58 are listed also in AnnexI of the Birds Directive.
The SPA Kotlenska planina is one of the most valuable sites in the country on a European Union scale for conservation of Lesser Spotted Eagle. The SPA harbors atleast 25-30 breeding pairs of Lesser Spotted Eagle, as well as more then 200 – 220 individualsduring migration.
The SPA Kotlenska planina is also a site of global importance for the breeding Corncrake and one of the most valuable sites in the country on a European Union level for Black Stork, HoneyBuzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Peregrine, Hazel Grouse, Semicollared Flycatcher and Middle Spotted Woodpecker, where these species breed in considerable numbers.
Through the SPA Kotlenska planina pass the most western part of Via Pontica migration flyway. It is a typical bottleneck site where more than 3,000 raptors migrate in autumn every year. The most numerous migrants are Honey Buzzard, Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon and harriers. The Crane is also recorded during migration. During the winter and migration period Ticha Reservoir holds significant numbers of waterfowl – Blackthroated Diver, Cormorant, Mallard, etc.
Threats to the protected area
The main threat to LSE and for the area as a whole is the human activities related to the forestry, grasslands maintenance and pit-stone extraction
Intensive forestry activities and artificial afforestation, affect the quality and composition of forest habitats and cause disturbance to birds during the breeding season.
Loss of habitats
The pastures and meadows are vulnerable to abandonment, conversion to arable land and a consequent decrease in cattle in the region, as well as pit-stone extraction. These cause gradual loss of valuable breeding habitats, especially for the LSE, Corncrake, but also suitable feeding areas for other raptors.
The poaching also cause disturbance to birds. Direct threat for the raptors, including LSE is nest robbery.