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PLACES for bird watching and walking


Latitude: 41.983246
Longitude: 26.356088


A low-mountain region with rounded hilltops and comparatively open river valleys of the Maritsa and Tundzha tributaries, close to the state border with Turkey. The terrain altitude is between 50 and 856 m. On its territory there about 30 small settlements, the town of Topolovgrad and a poorly developed road network. Lower parts of the Sakar territory is occupied by farmland, which has replaced forests of Quercus pubescens and Quercus virgiliana. On about 15% of the area there are dispersed xerothermal grass associations, dominated by Dichantium ischaemum, Poa bulbosa, Chrisopogon grillus, etc., and, more rarely, meso-xerothermal vegetation. The shrubs of Paliurus spina-christi, mixed with Jasminum fruticans in combination and the xerothermal grass formations determine the comparatively high numbers of the Hare Lepus europeus and the Souslik Spermophilus citellus respectively. The region also supports broadleaved forests of “open” type, composed of Quercus pubescens and Quercus virgiliana with Mediterranean elements, at places with secondary origin (Bondev 1991). Many of the riverbeds and valleys in the Sakar are still fringed by old trees of White Poplar Populus alba, willow Salix sp., etc., which provide nesting conditions for the birds of prey.


The area of Sakar currently supports 220 bird species, 59 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria (1985). Of the birds occurring there 96 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC) (BirdLife International, 2004), 11 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 23 in SPEC 2 and 62 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 76 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, which need special conservation measures. Sixty-eight of them are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive and more than half of them breed in the region in significant populations. Sakar holds the biggest populations in the country of Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, Black Kite Milvus migrans and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus. It is one of the most important areas in the country on European Union scale for the species mentioned above, as well as for the Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes, the Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra, Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla, Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus, Stone Curlew Burchinus oedicnemus, Montagu`s Harrier Circus pygargus, Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus and the Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum. The Black Stork Ciconia nigra, the Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus and the Red-Backed Shrike Lanius collurio occur there with representative populations. With less numerous populations two other globally threatened species than the Imperial Eagle also breed in Sakar – the Corncrake Crex crex and the Saker Falcon Falco cherrug. Eigth more globally threatened species occur there on migration – Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus, Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, Ferroginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Pallid Harier Circus macrourus, Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni and Great Snipe Gallinago media.

Some of species in this area
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