Sinite kamani - Grebenets SPA



The area is located in the Sliven Mountain, which is a part of the main Balkan Mountain chain. It covers a clearly outlined orographic unit with area 15,926 ha, located amidst the southern slopes of the Eastern Balkan Mountain - Udvoy Mountain - Chatal Balkan, Stidovska Mountain and Grebenets Ridge. The western and south-western limit of the area is defined by Asenovets Reservoir and the Asenovska river. On the north it passes along a watershed ridge, which is practically the highest part of the area - over 1000 m. The northern slopes are steep, covered with beech forest. The area’s southern limit passes along the southern slopes of the mountain from the town of Sliven to the grounds of the villages of Sotirya, Topolchane, Kaloyanovo and Glushnik.

The area includes the whole territory of Sinite Kamani Nature Park. A considerable part of it is covered by forests - 11,015.83 ha, 10,738.85 ha of which are broadleaved forest. The mixed oak forests of Quercus dalechampii, Quercus cerris, Q. frainetto and Q. pubescens prevail. Forests of Fagus sylvatica spp. moesiaca and Carpinus betulus, as well as Tilia tomentosa and Carpinus orientalis forests are also well represented. Shrub and grass associations on silicate base occupy 2% of the area and about 6% is covered by secondary steppe and dry calciphile grass associations. The grass formations have a secondary origin. They have been formed on the place of forests, destroyed in the past. Their floristic composition is poorer than that of the forest ones, but they are richer in rare species.

The rock formations, which have given the name of the site, occupy about 7% of its total area. The rocks of Sinite Kamani are qualified as separate habitat type according Palearctic classification and the big number of birds of prey, which occur there are part of the biotope characteristic of the rock complex.

Birds in the protected area

The SPA supports 170 bird species, 41 of which are listed in the Red Data Book for Bulgaria. Of the birds occurring there 69 species are of European conservation concern (SPEC), 5 of them being listed in category SPEC 1 as globally threatened, 22 in SPEC 2 and 42 in SPEC 3 as species threatened in Europe. The area provides suitable habitats for 51 species, included in Annex 2 of the Biodiversity Act, of which 44 are listed also in Annex I of the Birds Directive. The area includes some of the most valuable breeding and feeding habitats very rare and threatened birds of prey, like Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, Longlegged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina, etc.

The area is one of the most important ones in the country on a European Union scale for the Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, holding until recently 2 pairs. The pastures near Topolchane, which hold numerous Souslik colonies, are particularly important for the feeding of the species. Targeted studies during the period 2008 - 2013 confirmed that the area is important migration and stop-over site for the Saker Falcon and for a number of other raptor specie.

The pastures near Topolchane, which hold numerous Souslick colonies, are particularly important for the feeding of these species. The SPA is of global importance for the Imperial Eagle both for breeding and for concentration of young birds for feeding after the breeding season. It is one of the most important sites for the Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos medius, the Greater Shorttoed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla and the Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata. The area is one of the few places in the country where the Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva breeds. Sinite Kamani-Grebenets forms a kind of air passage in the relief of the Eastern Balkan Mountain and provides roosting and feeding conditions for the migrating birds of prey on their way south.

The globally threatened Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus regularly occurs in the area during the migration. Another globally threatened species - the Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga overwinter there. The Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis is also observed in Sinite-Kamani-Grebenets during the late autumn.

Threats to the protected area

  • Disturbance
    Direct threats to birds are caused also by rock climbing, gliding, and hang-gliding
  • Human activities
    Conversions of the pastures into arable lands leads to loss of food for raptors. Use of poison against rodents directly affect raptors.
  • Wind turbine farms
    The wind farms limit the access of the raptors to their hunting territories, cause disturbance of movement and direct persecution.
  • Poaching
    Poaching as well as taking chicks and eggs from the nests are direct threats for the birds.