Lesser White-fronted Goose

Anser erythropus (L., 1758)

Anser brevirostris Koch: Hristovich 1890: 222.

Order Anseriformes

Family Anatidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Critically endangered CR [B1+D+E], BDA-II, III; International: IUCN [VU A2bcd+3bcd],BeC-II, BoC-I, II, ECS-Spec 1, BD-I.

General distribution. A monotypical Palearctic species with a breeding area from the Scandinavian peninsula to the peninsulas Yamal, Taimir and Chukotka. The world population is 28 000 30 000 individuals, and the European one 30-50 pairs [1]. It winters in Eastern Asia and Asia Minor, around the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, Hungary and the Balkans. In Northern Greece it is a rare and an irregular winter visitor, with 30 documented wintering places [2].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. Winter visitor and passage migrant. Registered in Dobrudzha and the banks of the Danube and the Black Sea [3, 4], rarely within the country (Pyasachnik reservoir) [5]. At present, the total abundance is from 30-40 to 100 individuals [6, 7], highest around Durankulak and Shabla lakes, up to 15 birds at the most in 8 separate observations [8]. The reports of large concentrations in Dobrudzha [9], near Durankulak-Shabla [10] and near the village of Morava, Svishtov region [11], in Ovcharitsa reservoir, the Burgas lakes and the sea near Varna [12] were not confirmed by following investigations [6, 7, 13, 14].

Habitats. Shore water basins with different saltiness and the sea aquatory near the shore, freshwater lakes and reservoirs, winter sown fields, etc.

Biology. It breeds in the taiga and the arctic and subarctic regions between Scandinavia and the Far East. In the winter it feeds, together with the other species of geese, mostly on leaves of sown fields of winter wheat and on remaining maize grains after the harvesting.

Similar species. The White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons).

Negative factors. Illegal shooting or poisoning by superficially placed rodenticides; disturbance in the places for spending nights and the feeding places. Change of the corn-wheat cultures with vegetable or orchard ones, building tourist infrastructure around the key wetlands, probably also the mass construction of wind turbines in Dobrudzha. Potential mass-scale factors are the global change of the climate and bird influenza.

Conservation measures taken. The major places for spending nights are protected territories with ready plans for management. Specified are the important places for feeding, some of which were bought by conservationist organizations. Campaigns are held for decreasing disturbance from hunting around Shabla and Durankulak. Yearly midwinter monitoring throughout the country is carried out, and a more detailed one around Shabla and Durankulak. There is a good level of information in the key places. Two nature protection centres in the municipalities of Shabla and Kavarna have been built, as well as an observation tower near Durankulak Lake.

Conservation measures needed. Adoption of a National Plan for the conservation of the species. Declaring new protected territories in places for feeding (Shablenska Tuzla); inclusion of key places in the Natura 2000 network; protection measures against rodenticides; restriction on building wind turbines in Dobrudzha; control on hunting around the lakes Shabla and Durankulak.

References. 1. Lorentsen et al., 1999; 2. Handrinos & Akriotis, 1997; 3. Boev, 1985; 4. Nankinov et al., 1997; 5. Kostadinova, 1997; 6. Aarvak et al., 1997; 7. Petkov et al., 1999; 8. Dereliev, 2000; 9. Zjomer, 1987; 10. Baumgart, 1984. 11. Nankinov, 1993; 12. Timmerman et al., 1976; 13. Kostadinova, Dereliev, 2001; 14. Michev & Profirov, 2003; 15. Cramp & Simmons, 1977.

Authors: Pavel Simeonov, Sergei Dereliev

Lesser White-fronted Goose (distribution map)

Lesser White-fronted Goose (drawing)