Complete Bulgaria Circuit
with excursions to Romania and Greece
Vultures, Pelicans, Flamingos, Wallcreeper, Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatchers, Ural Owl, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Sombre Tit, Paddyfield, Orphean, Sub-alpine, Olive-tree and Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, White-backed Woodpecker, Rose-coloured Starling, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Rock Nuthatch, Masked Shrike...
This outstanding birding tour presents a large array of South-Eastern specialities to the eager eye of the birdwatcher, among them the Paddyfield, Olive-tree, Olivaceous, Barred,
Orphean, Sub-alpine and Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, Masked, Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Pallid Swift, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Rose-coloured Starling and other unusual passerines like Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Ortolan, Black-headed and Rock Buntings. There is a good chance of seeing Scops and Eagle Owls, Capercaillie, Chukar and Rock Partridge. We shall also explore the highland Boatin and Tsaritchina Biosphere reserves in the Central Balkan National Park. We visit locations where Ural, Tengmalm's and Pygmy Owls may be seen and heard calling. Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatchers, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Wood Warbler, Crested, Willow, Marsh, Blue and Coal Tits, Treecreeper, Gold and Firecrest, Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Common Crossbill and Nutcracker are some of the forest birds to be seen. Woodpeckers are well represented too, with Wryneck, Syrian, Black, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted and Grey-headed ones being some of the most interesting - by way of a small sample. We will climb ever upwards until the track expires in reaching the alpine Balkan meadows where highlights such as Water Pipit, Alpine Accentor, Whinchat and Shore Lark are well represented. The Western Rhodopes present us with major tour highlights where the exquisite Wallcreeper is seen. The impressive canyons of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains are on the top of Europe's list of locations for birds of prey, where in spring more than 20 raptor species can be seen, among them: Griffon, Egyptian and Black Vultures, Golden, Lesser-Spotted, Short-toed, Booted, and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Long-legged and Honey Buzzards. The Eastern Rhodopes also offer an unique opportunity to see the cliff-nesting population of Black Storks and, with a good luck, Saker Falcon. As an extra sight birdwatchers will visit Lake Kirkini in Greece where we expect to find gatherings of Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, and with luck, Spur-winged Lapwing and Eleonora's Falcon. Our tour includes an excursion to the Kamchia River to explore its famous riverine forest. Strandja and Sakar Mountains, Black Sea coast and the region of South Dobrudja are some of the key locations to be visited. The steppes of Kaliakra are the favourite habitat for the Red-footed Falcon, Hoopoe, Pied, Isabelline and Finsch's Wheatears, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipit, Black-headed Bunting and, especially in the evening, Stone Curlew, whilst Long-legged Buzzard breeds on the cliffs. We also explore the most exciting birding locations along the Romanian Black Sea coast, including the southern part of the Danube Delta, with a stop-off en route where we will look for White-tailed and Booted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Thrush Nightingale and other Eastern-European speciality woodland birds.
On our trip we will catch views of the famous passage of migratory birds along the Via Pontica flyway such as White Pelicans, Black Storks and Raptors. Waders feature Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers and, with luck, Terek Sandpiper.. We shall travel up to the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve by the Danube River, for close views of Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, Red-necked Grebe, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Squacco, Purple and other herons. Ruddy Shelduck and Ferruginous Duck are among notable waterfowl. One day excursion to the Central Balkan National Park will offer a good opportunity to see Nutcracker, Alpine Accentor, Firecrest, Crossbill, Ring Ouzel and White-backed Woodpecker (over 220 species expected)..
Dates: late April/early May
middle of May
late May/early June
Starting point:: Varna
* Promotional statement:
We offer a 5 percent discount to anyone who books a place (and sends deposit) by 31 December.
Day 1 :Varna - Durankulak
Day 2 : Durankulak and Shabla Lakes
Day 3 : Durankulak - Romania
Day 4 : Yaylata - Kaliakra - Srebarna
Day 5 : Srebarna - Central Balkan National Park
Day 6 : Central Balkan, Tsarichina Biosphere Reserve
Day 7 : Central Balkan - Melnik
Day 8 : Melnik - Kresna George
Day 9 : Excursion to Greece
Day 10: Melnik - Devin
Day 11: Trigrad - Madjarovo
Day 12: Eastern Rhodopes
Day 13: Madjarovo - Sakar Mountain - Burgas
Day 14: Pomorie and Burgas Wetlands
Day 15: Pomorie - Cape Emine - Kamtchia - Durankulak
Day 16: Durankulak - Varna Airport
Day 1 Varna - Durankulak
Flight out to Varna to be met by your knowledgeable local guide, transfer (45 miles) to our base overlooking Durankulak Lake and Black Sea, just 5 miles from Romania, where we stay for the next three nights. Dinner and first night at Branta Birding Lodge.
Day 2 Durankulak and Shabla Lakes
After breakfast we explore Lake Durankulak, a "Ramsar" site and "location of outstanding natural beauty" close to the Rumanian border and fringing on the Black Sea itself. Durankulak is famous for its most important wintering location for geese and ducks including the globally threatened Red-breasted Goose. At this season we look for Paddyfield, Marsh and Savi's Warblers, Crested Grebe, Whiskered and Black Terns, Reed Bunting and Bearded Tit. The brackish waters and huge reed beds hold also Moustached Warbler, Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck, Bittern and Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Ferruginous Duck and much else. On fields near the lake we should see the Balkan sub-species of the Yellow Wagtail, the beautiful black-headed feldegg race, while Barred and Marsh Warblers often sing from patches of scrub. Tall hedges and windbreaks in the vicinity of the lake hold good numbers of Red-footed Falcons, Golden Orioles, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes. The adjacent steppe and its surrounds hold Collared Pratincole, Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark, Barred Warbler, Syrian Woodpecker, Bee-Eater and Roller.
In the afternoon we drive south (12 miles) to Shabla Lake. Likely bird sightings en route include Calandra Lark, Yellow Wagtail and Syrian Woodpecker. We will spend the late afternoon at Shabla Touzla - a small, high salinity lake, famous for the curative properties of its mud. Here we can see Little Tern, Red-footed Falcon, Barred Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Olivaceous Warbler, Reed Bunting, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, Bearded Tit, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Little Tern and Little-ringed Plover. Packed lunch, dinner and second night at Branta Birding Lodge .
Day 3 Durankulak - Romania
After breakfast we set off to spend the day exploring the Romanian section of Coastal Dobrudja region. We visit the most exciting birding locations along the Romanian Black Sea coast, including the southern part of the Danube Delta, with a stop-off en route at the unique Hagieni forest where we will look for White-tailed and Booted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Thrush Nightingale and other Eastern-European speciality woodland birds.
The brackish lagoons Sinoe, Zmeica and Istria will be the major hot spots to be visited where many Eastern specialities such as White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and other herons, Bittern and Little Bittern, Ferruginous Ducks and Red-crested Pochard should be seen. Waders feature Marsh, Curlew, Broad-billed and, with luck, Terek Sandpipers, Temminck's Stint, Kentish Plover, Red-necked Phalarope, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed, Caspian, Little, Sandwich and the three species of Marsh Terns, Mediterranean, Yellow-legged, Caspian, Little and Slender-billed Gulls can be spotted. Packed lunch, dinner and third night at Branta Birding Lodge.
Day 4 Kaliakra - Srebarna
After breakfast we set off to spend the morning exploring the "Yaylata" and Cape Kaliakra, and their surrounds. Set in the largest surviving area of virgin steppe in Bulgaria, Kaliakra is also an archaeological monument, the site of ancient dwellings and fortresses covering more than 2500 years of human occupation.
The 70-m high cliffs make an excellent vantage point for Dolphin watching, whilst the abrupt westward turn of the coast here results in concentrations of migrating birds. The steppe, which runs up to the edge of the cliffs, is rich in plant species including Narrow-leaved Peony and three endemics. Kaliakra is the only breeding site in Europe for the exceedingly rare Finsch's Wheatear. More certain species of the steppe are Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipit, Roller and, especially in the evening, Stone Curlew, whilst some south-eastern specialties like Red-Rumped Swallow, Long-legged Buzzard, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears breed on the cliffs, alongside the desmaresti sub-species of Shag, also Eagle Owl, Rufous-tailed Rock Trhush and Alpine Swift.
Yailata, like Kaliakra is an archaeological reserve, fronted by splendid sea-cliffs against a hinterland of steppe. In scrubby areas we should find Olive-tree Warbler, Black-headed Bunting, and we may just see a Levant Sparrowhawk.
After lunch we travel up to the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO site) by the Danube River, for close views of Dalmatian Pelican breeding colony. There is also good chance of White-tailed Eagle. The reedbeds of the reserve host a mixed breeding colony of Spoonbill, Purple, Squacco and Night Herons, Little and Great White Egrets, Glossy Ibis and Pygmy Cormorants. Further along we reach Garvan marsh and look for breeding Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Ferruginous Ducks, Greylag geese, Whiskered Terns, King Fishers, Bee-Eaters, Rollers, Hoopoes, Penduline and Bearded Tits, Savi's and River Warblers. Woodpeckers are well represented (Grey-headed, Black, Syrian and Middle Spotted), other passerines include Crested and Wood Larks, Lesser Grey Shrike and Corncrake.
Dinner and overnight in a cosy guesthouse, situated just close to the reserve.
Day 5 Srebarna - Balkan Mountain Range
Early in the morning we travel up to Boatin Biosphere Reserve in the Central Balkan National Park where we will be met by the Reserve ranger. He will accompany us for the remainder of the day, which basically involves searching the forest for several target species including Red-breasted and Pied Flycatchers, Black Woodpecker and Ural Owl. Dinner and overnight stay in a cosy guesthouse just close to the reserve.