Protected area "Studenec"
The SPA Studenets is located in the Mid-Danubian Plain. It covers a system of karst canyons in the catchment area of the Vit river – the canyons of the Chernelka, those of the Vit between the villages of Yasen and Uglen, those of the Kamenitsa, etc.
It includes preserved riverine habitats, meadows, pastures and oak forests. The forests are presented mainly by mixed ones of Quercuscerris with Quercus pubescens or Q. cerris with Quercus frainetto, but also mixed forests of Fraxinus ornus, Tilia tomentosa and Carpinus orientalis.
The pastures and meadows are dispersed among the forest and farmland and are overgrown with xerothermal (with Dichantiumischaemum, Poa bulbosa and Chrysopogon grillus) or mesoxerothermal (Poa bulbosa, Loliumperenne, Cynodon dactylon, etc.) grass communities. In the region of the villages of Sadovetsand Beglezh there are vast mesophyle meadows, with prevalence of Chrysopogon gryllus.
The birds in the protected area
The SPA Studenets supports 86 bird species, 39 of which are listed in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria. The area provides suitable habitats for 41 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures, of which 39 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive.
At least 2-4 pairs of Lesser Spotted Eagle breed within the SPA Studenets. There is no target survey of the species status through the area, 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 site one of the most important in the country on a European Union scale for the Eagle Owl, Long-legged Buzzard, Ortolan Bunting, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher and Barred Warbler. Nikopolsko Plateau holds also representative breeding populations of a complex of threatened species as Black Stork, Honey Buzzard, European Roller and Tawny Pipit. The birds of prey nest in the forests and the rocky cliffs and feed on surrounding grasslands and arable land. The globally threatened Cornckrace is found to breed in the region of Studenets.
Threats to the protected area
The area is sensitive to human activities related to agriculture, livestock and urbanization. The stability of the ecosystem depends on the water regime of the Vit River.
Loss of habitats
Decreasing of grazing following by succession, as well as expansion of stone pits cause deterioration and loss of valuable bird habitats, incl. LSE feeding habitats. The forest habitats are affected by the intensive forestryactivities and afforestation with non-native species.
Poaching and disturbance
Direct threats to birds, incl. for LSE are poaching (nest robbery, illegal shooting) and disturbance by rock climbing, gliding, off roadtraffic and the heavy tourist pressure during the breeding season.