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Location Bulgaria, Varna
Central coordinates 27o 48.35' East  43o 11.55' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iv, B1i, B1iv, B3, C1, C2, C3, C5, C6
Area 4,682 ha
Altitude 0 - 101m
Year of IBA assessment 2005

Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description A natural coastal lake to the west of Varna, the largest Bulgarian sea-port. The northern shore is fringed by reedbeds of Phragmites, Typha and Schoenoplectus, while other parts are steeply sloping. There are sand-banks, as well as small saltpans in the westernmostpart of the complex, whose banks are overgrown with Salicornia. The lake was converted in the 1970s into a ship-canal connecting the Black Sea and Lake Beloslav, and there are many industrial installations (factories, ports, etc.), roads and railways along the lake-shore.

Key Biodiversity The complex is important for breeding Recurvirostra avosetta, which nest at the saltpans. It is the only wetland between Shabla and Durankulak lakes in the north and the Burgas lakes to the south, and thus is an important staging and wintering area for waterbirds, especially Pelecanus crispus and Phalacrocorax pygmeus. It is also a major migratory bottleneck site, where up to 50,000 Ciconia ciconia pass overhead each autumn. Species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Aythya nyroca (min. 9 on passage), Oxyura leucocephala (max. 3 in winter).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Common Pochard Aythya ferina winter  1997  1,125-10,240 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Vulnerable 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus passage  1996  30 individuals  poor  A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C2  Vulnerable 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus winter  2001-2004  403-2,175 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C2  Least Concern 
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus passage  1996  200 individuals  good  A1, C1, C2  Least Concern 
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo winter  1997  165-2,331 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Himantopus himantopus breeding  1998  30 breeding pairs  good  C6  Not Recognised 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  1996  13 breeding pairs  good  B3, C6  Least Concern 
Mew Gull Larus canus winter  1996  30-479 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  3,200-50,700 individuals  good  A4iv, B1iv, C5   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kazashko Protected Landscape 125 protected area contained by site 125  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Standing brackish and salt water; Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  95%
Artificial - terrestrial Other urban and industrial areas  5%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture 90%
urban/industrial/transport 100%
hunting 90%

Protection status National Low International None125 ha of IBA covered by Protected Landscape (Kazashko, 125 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Varna-Beloslav Lakes Complex. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife