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The second winter festival Shabla and the Birds

Twitchers and nature lovers invited to Durankulak Lake for an encounter with rare bird species

Photo: Shabla Municipality

For the second year in a row, the town of Shabla in north-eastern Bulgaria is hosting a bird-watching event. The Shabla and the Birds festival will draw attention to the conservation of rare and endangered feathered species that winter in the region of Lake Durankulak.

The initiative, which includes a photography competition and exhibition, as well as a series of outdoor adventures, raises awareness of the need to protect the Red-breasted Goose. The protection of this rare and endangered species was at the heart of the initiative, which brought together the Shabla Green Education Centre in partnership with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and the NGO Green Balkans. Their idea was to dedicate this festival to the 260 species of birds that migrate along the Via Pontica.

Unlike last year, when the rich cultural and educational programme coincided with the Christmas holidays, this year Shabla and the Birds is being held a month earlier - on November 25 and 26. The organisers have packed the weekend with three concerts, a bazaar of handmade souvenirs, culinary specialities, several workshops and, of course, a variety of games and entertainment for children and their families.

Red-breasted Goose"This year we have decided to focus on this (Via Pontica - ed.) and have developed a very fun game - "Following the Birds". Participants are given tasks along the route and clues to the solution are dropped off at special stations. Those who fail to complete the tasks will have another option to get to the next level - they will have to pass a test for nature lovers.

Everything will be within the limits of having fun, but still with an educational touch - says Daniela Todorova, Director of the Green Centre in Shabla - We would like to draw the attention of both children and their parents, and everyone who takes part in this adventure, to certain topics. For example, what is a wetland, how many wetlands are there in the Shabla region, why are they important, how do they enrich the area and what opportunities do they open up?

And because Shabla attracts a different type of tourists, it's also important to know what the profile of the conservationist is - what interests them, what is characteristic of them? Protected areas with rich ecological diversity like Shabla have everything to attract nature lovers and turn them into regular visitors.

Alongside the entertaining and educational programme, this is the festival's aim: to showcase the region's economic strengths. In the Green Education Centre, the fourth and last stop on the route that the participants will follow, there will be nests. Inside, the children will play more games and at the end they will make a bird out of paper and write a wish on it. When they return to the town square, they will hang the paper birds on a special installation and symbolically let their wish fly. This will also be the finale of the "Follow the Birds" game, through which the organisers hope to involve all participants in the effort to raise awareness of birds and nature.

The Lighthouse of Shabla

"And, of course, special awards await those who complete all the challenges of the games, such as a visit to the Shabla Lighthouse," notes Daniela Todorova. - It is a military facility and normally civilians are not allowed inside, but especially for the festival we got permission to take our prize winners there. I would also like to thank the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) and Green Balkans, who have been working for years to protect birds in the area. They are very actively involved in the festival with workshops and information packs. They also had a hand in the photography competition. Notably, the BSPB is also organising a guided trip to Tuzla in Shabla".

Photos: Green Education Centre - Shabla, Ministry of Tourism, BSPB, Shabla Municipality
Translated and posted by Elizabeth Radkova
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