In the field Neretva valley last weekend the first bird watching festival in Croatia was held Croatia Birdwatching Festival. Although this is not the first time that events related to birds have been held in Croatia, such as bird recognition training and an ornithological gathering, both organized by the BIOM association, this is nevertheless the first official event with an emphasis on the tourist offer of birdwatching tours in Croatia.
Why, considering the exceptional ornithological importance of the entire Republic of Croatia, was this particular area chosen? Namely, the Neretva Delta is the largest river estuary in Croatia and one of the largest and most valuable wetland habitats among the few remaining in Europe. Since salt water mixes with fresh water here, and the sandbars create shoals and silt, the life of invertebrates thrives, attracting a number of bird species from different groups, and thus the Delta is a vital stopover for migratory birds traveling the Adriatic flyway between nesting and wintering sites. Because of all of the above, the Neretva Delta is a focal point for bird watching in Croatia during all seasons, and that is why it was chosen as the base for the first Croatian bird watching festival.
Bird watchers are educated high-paying guests focused primarily on the conservation of the areas they visit; on average, they stay at the destination from 3 to 10 days, while their average age is between 45 and 60.
The idea is to brand Croatia as a birdwatching destination
The birdwatching community is strongly developing and representing one of the largest groups of organized civil society in developed countries in the west. Among the largest associations in the United Kingdom are RSPB, which has over a million members, and in Germany, NABU, with around 420.000 members. Significant communities of birders also exist in the countries of Scandinavia, Benelux and other large countries of Europe and North America.
From all of the above, the exceptional potential of birdwatching tourism in the Neretva area is clear, so the primary purpose of the festival is to position the Neretva area, as well as the whole of Croatia, on the world map of birdwatching enthusiasts. The idea is to brand Croatia as a birdwatching destination with a special emphasis on the Neretva region, not only because of the natural beauty and richness of bird life, but also because of the excellent gastronomic offer, and in this way enable the development of high-quality tourism, according to the organizers.
Considering the already established excellent cooperation with the rest of the countries in the region, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, and mostly because of the close cooperation on projects related to the Adriatic Flyway, the idea of the first festival was to network and create a regional team with a base in the central city Doline Neretva - Opuzenu.
The festival was attended by representatives of the Biom Environmental Conservation Organization (HRV), the Hutovo Blato Nature Park (BA), the Monticola tourist agency, which operates under the Center for the Study and Protection of Birds of Montenegro (MNE), and the Society for the Protection and Study of Birds of Serbia (SRB). .
On the first day, the participants had bird ringing in the area of Glibuša, Vid and Vidonje, a photo-safari with bird watching and a ride in a traditional Neretva boat on Lake Kuti (a special ornithological reserve). Before enjoying the famous Neretva brudet made of frogs and eels, he delighted the guests linđo – folk dance of the Republic of Dubrovnik performed by KUD Metković, performed with the accompaniment of the lijera - a traditional stringed instrument of the Eastern Mediterranean. This was followed by expert lectures at the City Cultural Center in Metković.
The Sunday part of the festival began with early morning bird watching at the Neretva Estuary (a special ornithological-ichthyological reserve) and the exploration of tourist sites and museums in the area of the Neretva Valley - the famous Narona Archaeological Museum in Vid, the only in situ museum in Croatia with a unique Augusteum, and the Natural History Museum in Metković, the ornithological collection of Dragutin Rucner.
The holder of the project is the Tourist Board of the City of Opuzen, and the organizers are the Tourist Agency Žabac and the Association for the Protection of Ornithofauna "Gregula" with partners the Tourist Board of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the City of Opuzen, the City of Metković, the Tourist Board of the City of Ploče and the Tourist Board of the City of Metković.
Source and photos: Martin Burić and Josip Laća, Croatia Birdwatching Festival