The Fortnight Spring Birdwatching

Vultures, Pelicans, Wallcreeper, Paddyfield Warbler...

15 birding days

This exciting tour to the most beautiful birding locations of Bulgaria 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. Woodpeckers are well represented too, with Syrian, White-backed, Black and Middle Spotted ones being some of the most interesting. There is a good chance of seeing Eagle Owl, Capercaillie, Chukar and Rock Partridge. 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: Golden, Lesser-Spotted, Short-toed, Booted, and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Long-legged and Honey Buzzards, Griffon, Black, and Egyptian Vultures.

As an extra sight birdwatchers will see the cliff-nesting population of Black Storks and, with a good luck, Saker Falcon. Our tour also 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. Two rare mammals also occur there, the Marbled Polecat and Romanian Hamster and a botanical speciality of the site is the Broad-leaved Peony. Kaliakra is also an archaeological monument, the site of ancient dwellings and fortresses revealing more than 2500 years of human habitation. Lakes Shabla and Durankulak in the north, and Burgas and Atanasovsko in the south are major wetlands to be visited and riparian forest of Ropotamo will broaden the habitat theme. We shall finally travel up to the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve by the Danube River, for close views of Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and other herons. On our trip we will also catch views of the famous passage of migratory birds along the Via Pontica flyway such as White Pelicans, Black Storks and Raptors. Waders feature Terek, Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers. Ruddy Shelduck and Ferruginous Duck are among notable waterfowl. A final excursion to the Vitosha Nature Park, offers a unique opportunity to see Nutcracker, Alpine Accentor, Shore Lark and Water Pipit and, thus, bird list promises to be the longest for any European tour.

Dates: late April/early May, middle of May, late May/early June.

* Promotional statement:

We offer a 5 percent discount to anyone who books a place (and sends deposit) by 31 December.

Group size: 3 to 10 people.

Day  1 : Sofia - Kresna
Day  2 : Kresna - Rupite
Day  3 : Kresna - Pamporovo - Devin
Day  4 : Devin - Trigrad - Kardjali
Day  5 : Kardjali - Madzharovo
Day  6 : Madzharovo - Studen Kladenetz
Day  7 : Madjarovo - Pomorie
Day  8 : Pomorie Saltpans - Burgas Wetlands
Day  9 : Burgas - Poda, Alepu & Ropotamo, Strandja
Day 10: Burgas - Pomorie - Cape Emine - Kamchia - Durankulak
Day 11: Durankulak, Shabla, Durankulak
Day 12: Kaliakra, Bolata, Yailata, Durankulak
Day 13: Durankulak - Srebarna
Day 14: Srebarna - Sofia
Day 15: Vitosha Mountain - Airport

Day 1
Flight out to Sofia to be met by your knowledgeable local guide, then make 100 km to a lovely and traditional wine-producing village in the south-western corner of the country, nestled in a picturesque gorge. It is located between three majestic Mountains bordering Macedonia and Greece. Stop off en route to explore some outstanding birding locations. Traditional restaurant dinner and overnight stay at a beautiful local guesthouse.

Day 2
From our base we explore the beautiful countryside. Here is the right place in Europe to see several South-Eastern specialities: Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Olive-tree, Olivaceous, Barred, Orphean and Sub-alpine Warblers, Sombre Tit, Ortolan, Black-headed and Rock Buntings.
The day will end with an exploration of two adjacent Mediterranean-like areas, located in the bosom of an ancient volcanic cone near the border of Greece. The cone is bisected by the river Strouma. Here, we will look for Rock Partridge, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes and other unusual passerines like Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear and Rock Sparrow. Eastern Four-lined Ratsnake, Leopard Snake and two species of tortoises are among notable local reptiles, which also feature in the tour. Picnic lunch, traditional restaurant dinner and overnight stay at a beautiful local guesthouse.

Day 3
We take a four-hour drive to an impressive canyon in the Western Rhodopes Mountain, the kingdom of the exquisite Wallcreeper and Orpheus flower (Haberlea rodopensis), which is a unique Bulgarian endemic. En route, we will see the open landscapes gradually changing to riverine valleys. Long-legged Buzzards, Red-backed Shrikes, Spanish Sparrows, Balkan Wagtails, Black-headed and Ortolan Buntings are among birds we look for, also keeping an eye out for mammals and reptiles. In the villages before the mountains we will look for White Storks, Little Owls and Syrian Woodpeckers, whilst the mountain streams hold White-throated Dipper and Grey Wagtail. Overnight stay in a cosy guesthouse.

Day 4
After breakfast, we will take an hour drive to the very picturesque gorge, which is one of the best places in Europe to look for the delightful Wallcreeper. Peregrine Falcon, Short-toed Eagle, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, Crag Martin and Rock Bunting can also be found there. Late in the afternoon, we will drive to the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and spend the next three days a in a charming mountain village.

Day 5-6
We will explore the Eastern Rhodopes with their exceptional diversity of raptors including 3 species of vulture, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, Hobby, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk and Goshawk, and, with a good luck, Saker Falcon and Eastern Imperial Eagle. We will be exploring the impressive volcanic canyons of Studen Kladenetz dam and the Arda River valley, with their cliff-nesting populations of Black Storks. Vultures will be watched at a special feeding platform, the so-called "Vulture restaurant" where a hide for carrying out observations has been built. Eastern Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Black Kite and other appetising raptors are also being attracted to this feast. Apart from raptors, the Eastern Rhodopes also offer an amazing diversity of bird life and our thirst for new sights & species will indeed be quenched after the intensive encounters and observations of different small passerines such as: Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, Red-rumped Swallow, Olive-tree, Olivaceous, Barred, Orphean and Sub-alpine Warblers, Alpine and Pallid swifts, Crag-martin, Rock Nuthatch, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears, Sombre Tits, Rufous-tailed Rock Trush and many others. Two day overnight stay in a charming hotel overlooking the vulture valley.

Day 7
After breakfast transfer (150 miles) to the Southern Black Sea coast. For the next three nights our base is a small port just a few miles to the north of Burgas. Barred and Eastern Bonelli´s Warblers, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Bee-Eaters, Rollers, Woodchat Shrikes, Golden Oriols, Cirl and Corn Buntings, are among bird species we look for, with a possibility of Eastern Imperial Eagle in the Sakar Mountain. We stop off to explore the coastal section of Strandja Natural Park, close to the Turkish border. Breeding birds include Black Stork, Black and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Goshawk and Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Treecreeper and other small passerines.
Dinner and first night in a charming family hotel overlooking the Black Sea.