Black Sea Coast
11th - 18th SEPTEMBER 2009
Lanius Bird Tours
Leaders: Dave Read & Andy Shooter
Local Guide: Pavel Simeonov (Branta-Tours)
Gordon & Alison Caw
John & Sheila Richardson
Chris & Christine Watkinson
Day 1; Friday 11th September
Our trip began at 19:00 with a direct flight Birmingham to Bourgas, arriving 3.5 hours later at just a
little after midnight local time. Once all our cases had been collected, we met with Pavel
Simeonov, head of Branta Tours, the Bulgarian based ground agents who helped us organise much
of the tour. We then met with our driver Roman and were soon out of the airport, arriving at the
Sunny Bay Hotel in Pomorie, our base for three nights just 15 minutes later.
After checking in, we had a small snack that the hotel had made for us and a cold local beer before
retiring straight to bed.
Day 2; Saturday 12th September
After breakfast we began by checking the sea in front of the hotel, this produced both Black & Rednecked
Grebes, but little else so we continued a short distance to Pomorie Lake. Here several
species of waders, gulls and terns were noted, along with Little Egret and 4 distant Spoonbill.
Next we moved to Lake Atanasovsko stopping first at the migration watchpoint, though sadly due
to the high winds there was no sign of any migration taking place other than three Black Storks
which circled over before departing to the south. Moving a short distance we checked an area of
mud by the side of the road that held several waders, the highlights of which were a single Marsh
Sandpiper and at least one Temminck's Stint. Moving further around the lake another stop was
made, here once again were several Little Gulls, but the highlight was without doubt 11 Dalmatian
Pelicans roosting on one of the embankments.
Next we visited Lake Bourgas, a huge lake skirted
by tall reeds and a very busy road, with only a
handful of laybys made by fisherman to observe
the lake from. This made no difference however as
our sharp-eyed guide Pavel spotted our targets and
guided the driver into the next layby. Sure enough
in the distance was a flock of c150 White Pelican
on the lake. We didn't stop long however, as Pavel
knew another stop where closer views of the birds
could be obtained. Once there we all enjoyed
fantastic views of these mammoth birds, even
finding 7 Dalmatians in with the flock so a
comparison of the two species could be made. Up
to 5 Squacco Herons were also observed, along with 3 Night Herons in flight and a brief Little
Bittern. Several Whiskered Terns were also noted.
Moving south again we headed for the Ropotamo River Reserve for lunch, however by now the
weather was deteriorating and little of note was recorded. With the worsening weather we decided
not to continue south (into bad weather) as planned, but to return to Lake Atanasovsko instead.
This was a good move as the return journey found us a very obliging Lesser Spotted Eagle roosting
by the roadside and 3 Ferruginous Ducks on a roadside pool, with another 5 in flight overhead.
Once north of Bourgas it stopped raining, allowing us a nice walk along a track close to the western
shore of the lake. Though tall reeds made viewing the lake impossible several birds of note were
recorded including a male Pallid Harrier, an immature Goshawk and three migrating flocks of
White Pelican consisting of a total of c600 birds.
After an excellent bird filled day, we then headed back to Pomorie for our evening meal and log call.
Day 3; Sunday 13th September
After breakfast we again started with the nearby
Pomorie Lake, but not before Andy spotted a
distant pale phase Arctic Skua at sea in front off
the hotel. On the lake, the gulls were still present
in good numbers, and were showing much better
in the calmer conditions, providing us with a good
opportunity to be able to compare the many Little,
Black-headed, Slender-billed and Mediterranean
which were present in various ages and plumages.
Also present were Yellow-legged and Caspian
Gulls, again in a variety of plumages. Other birds
of note included single Whimbrel and Grey
Plover, a flock of 5 Hoopoe and several Yellow
Wagtails. Moving further around the lake to various viewpoints provided several waders including
Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Black-winged Stilt amongst others. Up to 50 Blacknecked
Grebe and a Penduline Tit were also noted. Returning to the van we had begun to move
away from Pomorie when two eagles were seen, one a Booted, the other Short-toed. Stopping the
van to gain better views also rewarded us with a flock of 4 Levant's Sparrowhawk overhead, which
gave reasonable views despite being a bit of a neck-breaker.
Our next stop was at the Khans Tent restaurant, situated on a panoramic viewpoint above the resort
of Sunny Beach, here Chris & Chris treated us all to a much-appreciated cold beer to help celebrate
their wedding anniversary, which we drank while watching for raptors. Although a few birds were
noted including two Black Kites, most were Steppe Buzzard and most were very high, with only a
single Lesser Spotted Eagle showing well. However our attention was soon shifted to the
surrounding scrubby hillside and pines as it became apparent that there had been a fall of
passerines, with several flycatchers, warblers, chats and shrikes involved. Amongst the commoner
species were a Wood Warbler and at least 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, however the surprise find
was a late Semi-collared Flycatcher. Alpine Swift and Sombre Tit were also recorded here along
with Marsh, Coal and Long-tailed Tits.
Next we moved to an area of Oak woodland where a pair of Middle Spotted Woodpecker, which
gave good views was amongst the highlights. Meanwhile through the gaps in the trees, more
raptors could be seen moving over, including a single Booted Eagle, Short-toed and Lesser Spotted
Eagles and a flock of c50 Steppe Buzzards.
Our next stop was Poroy Reservoir, however upon arrival unusually low water levels resulted in the
best areas at the far end being dry, with only 3 Tawny Pipits, several Crested Larks and a few Redrumped
Swallow of note. Moving to the dam there was plenty of water, but also plenty of
fishermen and still not much in the way of birds, although Hawfinch, Song Thrush and Grey
Wagtail were added to the list.
We then returned to Pomorie with just enough time to revisit the Lake, which was covered in
Shelduck. New arrivals since our morning visit included a single immature White Pelican and up to
4 Black Terns.