A learning curve: The Griffon Vulture in Vratsa Mountain Nature Park

Do you know which the largest birds of prey in Bulgaria are - the Griffon Vultures! Their body length reaches 110 cm and their wingspan is up to 260 cm! The species is included in Bulgaria's Red Book and can be sighted in very few places across the country, one of them being Vratsa Mountain. The majestic birds have returned to their natural habitat after years of work by nature conservation organizations and the nature park. about 70 birds have permanently been retained within the park by 2019. They call them "scavengers of nature" because they feed on carcasses of dead animals. The vulture has coexisted with humans since time immemorial, but in the 20th century many species of vultures are extinct in Bulgaria, mostly due to the use of poison against predators, habitat loss and shortage of food.

The Vratsa Mountain Nature Park Directorate has created a special trail to raise awareness of some curious facts related to the secret life of griffon vultures. It gives us a chance to catch a glimpse of these spectacular birds from a special observation point. Apart from perching on hard-to-reach rocks, they don't like to come closer to humans. They can be seen along the route if you use binoculars or an optical tube. To make sure you won't miss a sighting, call the Natura Nature Conservation Centre at NP Vratsa Mountain.

The route starts from Dolno Ozirovo's central square and ascends to the aviary, where vultures adapt before being released into the wild. It ends at a spot called Izvora at the foot of the Kotlya Cliff. Gradients are not tough and the trail takes about two hours. Follow the marking and do not disturb the vultures.

Useful information

The right season for vulture observation is from April through September. For information and guidance hiring, call the Natura Conservation Centre at 092 660 318 or Georgi Stoyanov at 0878 734 503. Dolno Ozirovo is 10 km from Varshets, 25 km from Vratsa and ditto Montana. The distance to Sofia is about 100 km.

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