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Location Bulgaria, Varna
Central coordinates 28o 33.93' East  43o 34.45' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B1iv, B2, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6
Area 3,195 ha
Altitude 0 - 40m
Year of IBA assessment 2005

Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description A complex of three lakes in north-eastern Bulgaria, 5 km north-east from the village of Shabla. Two lakes are connected by an artificial canal and separated from the Black Sea by a sandbar; both have indented shorelines fringed with reedbeds of Phragmites, Typha and Carex. There is a hyper-saline lake (Shablenska tuzla) just to the south. There are planted trees and bushes of Elaeagnus, Syringa, Ligustrum, Cotinus and Crataegus in the former state residence, and forestry plantations to the north (Robinia, Fraxinus) and south (Populus) of the lake.

Key Biodiversity The complex is very important in winter for the globally threatened Branta ruficollis and for Anser albifrons, which both occur in huge numbers, as well as for other wintering and migrating waterbirds such as Phalacrocorax pygmeus, Cygnus cygnus, Anas platyrhynchos and Aythya nyroca (one pair sometimes remains to breed). The site is also a notable migratory bottleneck site in autumn, when up to 6,500 Ciconia ciconia have been counted passing overhead (the site may qualify under the A4iv criterion but more counts are needed). Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Anser erythropus (1 or 2 on passage and in winter). Significant proportion (³1%) of national population breeding at site: Tadorna ferruginea.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus winter  1998  15-50 individuals  poor  A1, C1  Vulnerable 
Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons winter  1997  61,900-177,335 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser winter  2003  3,273 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis winter  1997  20,000-55,845 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C2  Vulnerable 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus winter  1997  162-261 individuals  medium  B1i, C2  Least Concern 
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos winter  1997  3,045-62,210 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca passage  1996  10-88 individuals  good  A1, C1  Near Threatened 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus winter  2001  286 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C2  Least Concern 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus passage  1997  5-392 individuals  good  A1, C1  Least Concern 
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus breeding  1995  8-16 breeding pairs  good  B2, C6  Near Threatened 
Himantopus himantopus breeding  1996  5-9 breeding pairs  good  C6  Not Recognised 
Charadrius alexandrinus breeding  1996  10-14 breeding pairs  good  B2, C6  Not Recognised 
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola breeding  1996  4-10 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Mew Gull Larus canus winter  1999  285 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Little Tern Sternula albifrons breeding  1996  6-8 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1997  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii, C4   
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  1997  6,500 individuals  good  B1iv, C5   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lake Shabla Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 404 protected area contained by site 403  
Shabla Lake Protected Landscape 511 protected area contained by site 511  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Mesophile grasslands; Steppes and dry calcareous grassland  6%
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish and salt water; Water fringe vegetation  -
Sea Open Sea  13%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Forestry plantations; Other urban and industrial areas  62%
Coastline Sand dunes & beaches  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
water management 68%
agriculture 32%
hunting 30%
tourism/recreation 1%
fisheries/aquaculture -

Protection status National Partial International Partial511 ha of IBA covered by Protected Landscape (Shabla lake, 511 ha). 403 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Shabla lake, 403 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Shabla Lake Complex. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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