Protected area "Lomovete"
The SPA Lomovete is a complex of canyons deeply cut into the plain by the meanders of the Russenski Lom and its tributaries – Cherni, Malki (Svalenishki) and Beli Lom. It is located in the north-western part of the Ludogorie, 20 km south-east of the town of Ruse, between the villages of Ivanovo, Pepelina, Krivnja and Svalenik. The vertical cliffs of the canyons, at places 100 m high, are quite typical for Lomovete. The rocks are interspersed with niches and crevices.
Other major habitats in the region are the forest ones, with prevailing mixed coppice forests of Quercusrobur, Quercus dalechampii, Quercus pubescens and Carpinus orientalis, sometimes mixed with Fraxinus ornus. The mixed forests of Tilia tomentosa and Carpinus betulus or Q. cerris and rich undergrowth are also well represented. Widely spreads are the secondary forests and shrubs of Oriental Hornbeam, Paliurus spina-christi, Siringa vulgaris, etc. Artificial plantations of Acacia Robinia pseudoacacia and Austrian Pine Pinus nigra also occur.
At many places in the valley there are preserved mesophile meadow associations and xerothermal grasslands of Dichantiumischaemum, Poa bulbosa, etc. (Bondev 1991; Georgiev 1993). The riverbanks are overgrown with different willow species Salix spp., Black Poplar and WhitePoplar. Along the valley, mainly around the settlements, there are agricultural plots too.
The birds in the protected area
The SPA Lomovete supports 149 bird species, 38 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria. The area provides suitable habitats for 48 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 44 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive.
The Lesser Spotted Eagle breeds in considerable numbers on the territory of SPA Lomovete. The SPA holds up to 5-10 LSE breeding pairs as well as more then 200–220 individuals during migration. There is no target survey of the LSE status within the SPA during recent years. At the same time, the large extent of suitable breeding habitats and trophic base is available for the species. In this respect, there is probability to be established a higher number of the LSE breeding pairs within the SPA.
The SPA Lomovete holds the biggest breeding population in the country of the Ruddy Shelduck. It is one of the most important sites in the country also for the Egyptian Vulture, the Long-legged Buzzard and the Black Kite.
The Short-toed Eagle, the Eagle Owl, the Roller, the Grey-headed Woodpecker, the Tawny Pipit and the Barred Warbler breed there in considerable numbers. One globally threatened species, almost extinct from the country, still breeds in the region – the Lesser Kestrel.
The Valley of Russenski Lom River is the most western part of the Via Pontica migration route, which is used mainly by raptors. It is one of the main corridors where migrating Lesser Spotted Eagle enter Bulgaria on its way to the south.
Threats to the protected area
The area is sensitive to human activities which cause disturbance to birds, especially to those which nests on the rocks–rock climbing, gliding, hang-gliding, illegaltreasure hunting, tourism activities during the breeding season, as well as poaching.
Intensive forestry activities in the vicinity of the breeding territories, as well as illegal cutting affect the structure and quality of forest habitats and disturb the breeding individuals. Fires, continuing urbanization and turning the grasslands to arable lands are the main reason for fragmentation and loss of valuable habitats.