Spring Botany (and Birds)

Day 4: Durankulak - Bourgas

After breakfast transfer (100 miles) to the southern Black Sea port of Bourgas.
We break the journey twice, firstly to explore the rocky landscape near Balchik, where we should see Mattiola odoratissima, Astragalus excapus, A.vesicarius, A.pubiflorus and Gypsophyla glomerata. Our second stop, in the Eastern Balkan Mountains, will show us some of the flora of the oak forests.
Dinner and first of two nights in hotel White House in neighbouring Pomorie.

Day 5: Bourgas Saltpans

Today we explore Lake Atanasovsko Reserve, one of Bulgaria’s five “RAMSAR” sites. The 1690 ha. complex includes extensive saltpans, freshwater pools, marshes and areas of scrub and semi-steppe. The site’s main interest is ornithological, but the highly specific conditions here make for a fascinating flora too.
Lake Atanasovsko’s position on the east European Via Pontica migration flyway attracts a great variety of migrant birds in spring and autumn. More than 300 birds species have been recorded here.
We will be able to enjoy the spectacle of the lake’s breeding birds, including some hundreds of Avocets, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole (Black-winged have been seen here too!), Kentish Plover, Gull-billed Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Little Tern, Marsh Harrier and Penduline Tit. Caspian Tern, Slender-billed Gull and Squacco Heron are also seen at this season, and we may turn up Marsh Sandpiper. Cetti’s Warbler and Little Bittern breed in the reedbeds, and Black-headed Buntings and Red-backed Shrikes are numerous on fields surrounding the lake.
The site’s vegetation is typified by Salicornia herbacea, Salicornia europaea and Typha angustifolia, but includes two species endangered in Europe: Coryspermum nitidum and Lepidotrichum uechtritzianum.
For dinner we sample traditional Bulgarian cuisine in a folk-tavern in the historic town of Nessebar. Return to Pomorie.

Day 6: Bourgas - Strandja Nature Park

After breakfast, transfer (40 miles) south to the Strandja Nature Park, visiting en route the reserves of Ropotamo, Arkutino and Alepu. At Ropotamo we will explore a primary alluvial forest of Quercus pedunculiflora, Ulmus laevis and Alnus glutinosa with Smilax exelsa and Peiploca graeca. The psammophytic vegetation near Arkutino includes Lepidotrichum nechtritzianum, Anchusa velenovskyi, Linum tauricum bulgaricum, Pancratium maritimum Silene euxina, Hypecoum ponticum, Jurinea albicaulis kilaea, Stachys maritima, Medicago marina, Eryngium maritimum, Euphorbia paralias, etc. Arkutino lake is famous for its abundance of Nymphaea alba. Generally in the area we can expect to find Tulipa hageri, Scilla bythinica, Fritillaria pontica, Heptaptera triquetra, Ruscus aculeatus, Symphytum tauricum, Iris suaveolens, etc. Several orchid species are found here too, including Anacamptis pyramidalis, Orchis purpurea, Orchis ustulata and Limodorum abortivum.
Dinner in the historic town of Sozopol (on the south Black Sea coast) and first of 3 nights at a beautiful local guesthouse.