Ulcinj Salina –the Heathrow Airport for the birds

Katarina Kalicanin | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Ulcinj Salina is one of the main natural sites in Montenegro. Built in 1934, on the 1 500–hectare area, salt pans of Ulcinj Salina were created for a salt-production company. Even though it is a man-made complex, it attracts tens of millions of birds every year. Therefore, it is a perfect example of a peaceful coexistence between birds and people. Thanks to the salt production, Salina grew into one of the most important areas for bird migration in the Mediterranean and Europe. So, no wonder it is known as a Heathrow Airport for the birds!

More than 250 bird species, which is more than a half registered in Europe, stop over at Salina, year after year during their migrations from Africa to Europe and back. For the birds flying from Italy, this is the first place on their Adriatic flyway where they can stop and rest. Actually, after 200 km long flyway, these tired birds are falling down exhausted and desperate for some food in which Salina abounds. Therefore, it is their main roosting, nesting, breeding and wintering area on the eastern Adriatic coast.

There are a few more components for which the significance of Ulcinj Salina should be highlighted. Aside from birds, Salina has plentiful amphibians, reptiles as well as unique plants. For example, Glasswort or Salicornia is the plant that grows only in high salinity ground. Its importance for Ulcinj Salina is essential, as it is a nesting habitat for many birds and other animals.

Salina is part of the Bojana/Buna river Delta which together with Lake Skadar represents one of the richest biodiversity areas in the Mediterranean and Europe.

Visiting Ulcinj Salina is always an interesting and unique experience. The bird species that you can see here, change with each season. Whenever you decide to come, I recommend you to visit Salina with a trained guides from the Center for Protection and Research of birds in Montenegro (CZIP). That way you'll be sure you gathered enough information and understood this complex ecosystem. On the top, you won't just have a recreational but educational tour as well.

In the last couple of years, Ulcinj Salina is unfortunately closed for salt production and the Center for Protection and Research of birds in Montenegro (CZIP) with its huge efforts is trying to protect and promote this unique and exceptionally rich bird reserve. Its existence is of a great importance for more than 20 threatened bird species who keep coming back only because of the salt. What Salina should become is one of the main Ecotourism destination in Montenegro and hopefully, one day The Heathrow airport will be just too small to compare to.

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