BULGARIA:
Black Sea Coast

AUTUMN MIGRATION 11th Ė 18th SEPTEMBER 2009

Lanius Bird Tours

Leaders: Dave Read & Andy Shooter

Local Guide: Pavel Simeonov (Branta-Tours)

Participants:

Doreen Marsh

Gordon & Alison Caw

John & Sheila Richardson

Chris & Christine Watkinson

Howard Broughton

Chris Hughes

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 Temminckís 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 didnít 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 Levantís 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.

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