ATANASOVSKO LAKE –TOCHKATA (the Point) AND THE SALT-TRAIN
„Tochkata” is located on a dike in the northern part of Atanasovsko Lake, 200 m from the barrier and over the low-rising buildings of Black Sea SaltWorks JSC . To reach the Northern salt-works it is necessary to go out of Burgas in the direction of Sarafovo and at the cloverleaf interchange above the lake to go in the direction of the salt-works, and below the main road to go north (i.e. turn left) in order to get to the other side of the lake. From there you can get to the barrier of Black Sea Salt-Works along a narrow asphalt road.
The site is easily accessible by private transport. As for public transport, you can use bus № 61 going to the village of Rudnik, which stops relatively close to “Tochkata” (after the cloverleaf interchange, but on the upper side).
COORDINATES: 42°33'32.62” N, 27°29'17.85 E 7 m above sea level
This is the oldest and most popular place for watching the birds passing along the Via Pontica migratory highway. Every autumn birdwatchers and bird lovers from all over the world come here to enjoy the huge flocks of white storks, pink pelicans, honey buzzards, spotted eagles, and others. Becoming a witness of the migration along the Via Pontica migratory highway, especially in the days of the most intense passage, is something extraordinary and unforgettable.
From “Tochkata” there is a wonderful view of Atanasovsko Lake Managed Nature Reserve.
Size: 1074.5 ha
Documents declaring it a Nature Reserve: Order №601 of 12.08.1980;
Recategorization: With Order №392 of 15.10.1999; Adoption of Management Plan with Order №RD-1378 of 17.11.2003.
International status: Ramsar site
Purpose for declaring it a nature reserve: Preservation of rare and endangered in this country and in Europe nesting and wintering birds.
Activities allowed in the nature reserve:
1. Maintenance of the dikes and the salinity of the waters in the reserve through the traditional technology of salt production;
2. Repair works on the dikes and canals between 30.07. - 01.04.;
3. Activities supporting the nesting of birds;
4. Controlling the number of predatory mammals – foxes, jackals, polecats, martens, raccoon dogs;
5. Grazing of cows and sheep in Azmak Dere;
6. Extraction of shrimp in certain areas after 30 July;
7. Extraction of therapeutic mud in the southwest corner of the reserve;
Overlap (partial or complete): ЗЗ from the Birds Directive: Atanasovsko Lake
To the north east of Burgas is Atanasovsko Lake – Bulgaria’s birds’ paradise. It is a super salty lagoon divided into two parts by the road Burgas - Varna. The northern part has a supported reserve status, and the southern part is a buffer zone, recategorized and declared a protected area. The lake is surrounded by smaller water basins and a system of canals overgrown with marsh vegetation, salt crystallizers surrounded by a dike and a freshwater canal. The lake is approximately 9 km long, 4.3 km wide and its area is about 17 sq. km. It is located 1.5 meters below sea level, which makes it highly vulnerable. Its average depth is 30 cm.
To preserve the unique variety of birds occurring in the lake, in 1980 the northern part was declared a nature reserve. In 1999 it was re-categorized and declared as supported reserve. The southern part was a buffer zone of the reserve, but in 2007 it was re-categorized into a protected area Burgas Salt-Works. As early as 1984 the lake was declared a Ramsar site – a wetland of international importance. It is a protected area from the European Ecological Network Natura 2000.
In the region of Atanasovsko Lake there are 316 bird species (of approximately 423 species found throughout the whole country) that migrate, winter or nest in the reserve. Of these, 14 are globally endangered: Dalmatian pelican, pygmy cormorant, red-breasted goose, lesser white-fronted goose, curlew, corncrake, ferruginus duck. 83 species are listed in the Red Book of Bulgaria, and 170 species are of European conservation importance.
During the summer months the basins are full of Plovers. The most numerous are the colonies of Avocets, Stilts, and Terns. This is the only place where the Sandwich Tern, Black-headed Gull and Little Tern calandra multiply.
Since it does not freeze in winter, Atanasovsko Lake is a place of international importance for wintering water birds including Shelducks, Sheets, Northern Pintails, Mallards, Dalmatian Pelicans, White-Fronted Geese.
The Lake is located on the migratory route Via Pontica and is of European importance regarding the migration of soaring birds, especially pelicans, eagles, harriers and storks.
Atanasovsko Lake is one of the most important places in Europe with a migration bottleneck.
Every spring and autumn along the invisible sky highway Via Pontica millions of birds fly thousands of miles from their wintering areas to their breeding areas and back.
Via Pontica in Latin means Black Sea route time and dates back to Roman times when it was an ancient Roman road that ran along the Black Sea. Today it is used for the second largest migratory route of birds’ passage in Europe. In Bulgaria it passes along our Black Sea coast. The majority of the birds migrate close to the shore and up to several kilometers inland, but often the migration front is wide and overflying birds can be seen hundreds of kilometers inland.
"Tochkata" is a raised area (on one of the salt dikes) on which there are two special shelters for bird watching, offering good visibility high in the sky. Every autumn hundreds of bird lovers gather here, pull out their optical tubes with high magnification, take out binoculars and cameras and gaze at the sky. The first to start their journey are the white storks, which begin to gather together on August 10. Their large, chaotic flocks fill the sky above the lake. The peak (or their largest number) is usually in late August. For good bird watching we recommend the days after rain, when the birds are very active and when you can see really large flocks. It is through here that over 70% of the European population of white storks, the entire population of pink pelicans, Dalmatian pelicans, and a large part of the diurnal raptors - honey-buzzard, falcons, large and small spotted eagles, and even vultures pass.
The infrastructure around Tochkata is going to be improved – information boards, steps and railings to climb along the dike to Tochkata. Every year on the clearing below the dike the traditional volunteer youth brigade, organized in August for the last 20 years by the Bulgarian Society for Protection of Nature, sets up its camp.
This summer the tourist train will start operating again and will take tourists from the Northern SaltWorks to the border of Atanasovsko Lake reserve, close to pumping station N7, where there will be a tourist railway station (coordinates: 42 ° 34'25.2 "N, 27 ° 29'12.0 "E). A 1.5 meter-high platform for bird watching will be constructed, as well as steps, railings, a picnic area and information boards.