EuroBirdwatch23 – Recap

EuroBirdwatch is the largest birdwatching event in Europe, and it has become an annual tradition for us in recent years. On September 30 and October 1, our dedicated volunteers and AOS members, alongside our staff, organized birdwatching excursions to some of our country’s most significant sites for migratory birds. Four events took place, highlighting three important wetlands – Karavasta Lagoon, Narta Lagoon and Orikumi Lagoon.

Day 1: Our trip began at Karavasta, a wetland system renowned for consistently hosting the highest numbers of wintering waterbirds in the country. Our participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the various wader species present and gain insights into the significance of Divjaka-Karavasta National Park for migrating, wintering, and breeding birds.

The main event of the day was our visit to Narta Lagoon, another vital wetland for migratory birds in Albania. Narta Lagoon, as part of the Adriatic flyway, serves as a crucial stopover site sustaining the migration of numerous bird species. However, recent developments pose a serious threat to the area’s wildlife and biodiversity. North of Narta Salina, in close proximity to the salt pans which serve as foraging grounds for flamingoes, waders, gulls, terns and the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), construction is underway for the highly controversial Vlora International Airport. The construction of this airport will force a high number of species to leave their natural habitats, including over 200 bird species and 70 potentially endangered species included on the IUCN Red List.

Our birdwatching trip was not only an opportunity to appreciate the stunning avian diversity but also a crucial educational experience. We aimed to acquaint our participants with the many bird species that stand to be impacted by the imminent airport development, highlighting the urgent need for intervention. Moreover, we delved into the ongoing legal battle against the airport, shedding light on the collective efforts to protect Narta’s ecosystems and wildlife.

Day 2: This day was dedicated to Orikumi Lagoon, where special attention was placed on the reedbeds as an important habitat for many migratory passerine species. In addition to a guided birdwatching trip, we organized the highly anticipated and beloved bird ringing camp. Our participants had the unique opportunity to witness bird ringing up close, gaining a deeper understanding of this process and the invaluable insights it provides into bird behavior and migration patterns.

It is events like this that allow us to appreciate the beauty of bird migration as well as remind us to not take for granted all the crucial habitats that sustain this unique natural process.

This activity was supported by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), within the framework of the ‘Maintaining the Ecological Integrity and Biodiversity of Divjaka-Karavasta National Park’ project, as well as EuroNatur, within the framework of the ‘Safe Flyways IKB 3’ project.