Birding in spring in Bulgaria! Yes! You simply cannot find another European country where to get face to face with such a diversity and richness of avifauna. When a tour like this is over, your checklist of birds you have seen will usually exceed the limit of 200 species. And what a checklist at that: listing such rarities as the Dalmatian Pelican, Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill, Pygmy Cormorant, Black stork, Ferruginous duck, Egyptian, Black and Griffon vultures, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged buzzard, White-tailed eagle, Golden and Eastern Imperial eagles, Lesser spotted, Booted and Short-toed eagles, Red-footed falcon, Chukar, Little and Spotted crakes, Slender-billed gull, Eagle and Scops owls, Pallid swift, Roller and Hoopoe, Calandra lark, Red-rumped swallow, Black headed yellow wagtail, Pied and Isabelline wheatear, Paddyfield, Olieve- tree, Olivaceous and Barred warblers, Semi-collared flycatcher, Sombre tit, Rock nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Lesser Grey and Masked shrikes, Rose-coloured starling, Black-headed and Ortolan buntings
Day 1: After breakfast our tour begins with a transfer to Rodopi Mountains. Our hotel is situated amidst pine forests at an altitude of 1500 m. a. s. l.. Staying overnight at the hotel. Birds to watch in the hotel vicinity: Common Crossbill, Rock Bunting, Pallid Swift. Along the road we will have a few stops with good opportunities to spot White Stork, Honey Buzzard, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: After an early breakfast we'll pack up and head for a magnificent gorge. This area is part of the Rodopi Mountains but it is something quite different form the rounded hills covered with coniferous forests around the hotel. The first thing that impresses the visitor are the huge cliffs towering above and the deep rocky valley, where the meandering local river can hardly be seen. Strange trees of a local subspecies of Black Pine (Pinus nigra) grow right out of the rocks where there is no soil for their roots. All the time while we are there we cannot help but stand in awe before the nature's grandeur.
Unfortunately, this is only a poor and sketchy description of this extraordinary place with its caverns and the rumble of its waterfalls. One can hardly imagine the gorge beauty if one does not see it with one's own eyes. This exceptionally beautiful area is 1200 m above sea level. Welcom to the Land of the Wallcreeper. This is simply the best and the most accessible place in Europe or maybe in the world to see this marvellous bird which reminds an enormous butterfly in flight. It is here where after a short and easy walk along the road for about 2 km that we hope to see this wonderful bird.
After lunch we will travel to the next main stop for the trip. The road is not long but it's very "slow", because we are in the Rodopi Mountains. You will notice with amazement how kilometer after kilometer the mountain changes, the coniferous forests are replaced by mixed ones and afterwards by pure deciduous stands, and the trees become smaller and stunted. Then come the shrubs followed by bare rocky hills and finally the huge cliffs. The world of the large birds of prey lies before us. Night at local hotel. There are good opportunities to watch Black and White Storks, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Scops Owl. includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: The next visit is to a rocky region close to our hotel . The area is of ancient volcanic origin with stony ground, huge rocks scattered around, small stunted shrubs and almost complete lack of wild growing mature trees. This part of the Rodopi Mountains is well known as one of Europe's most important regions for birds of prey. We will spend all day birdwatching around and hopefully will see Golden, Imperial, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Black, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures and many species of smaller birds like Pallid Swift, Rock Nuthatch, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Roller, Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Somber Tit, Cirl, Black-headed and Ortolan Buntings, Barred, Subalpine, Sardinian and Orphean Warblers. Night the local hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Again a long but necessary transfer, this time to the lowlands along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. We will stay for 3 nights at a local hotel, situated almost on the beach, and close to the local lakes. This is the most important area in Bulgaria for large and small migrating birds from the huge region of Central and Eastern Europe during the spring and autumn migration. While on the move we will have plenty of time for stops to look for specialties like Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Montagu's Harrier. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: All day long we will be in the area around the lakes, with the extensive reed-beds on their lakesides. There are flooded meadows, marshes, low hills, and oak forests in the surrounding countryside. These diverse habitats make this region one of the best in Europe for wetland and other species of birds. There we can spot Pygmy Cormorant, Night, Squacco, Purple and Grey Herons, Little and Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, White Pelican, Slender-billed, Mediterranean and Little Gulls, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Somber Tit, Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Today we'll visit a big reserve , including wetlands, a river and a part of a not very high mountain, with broad-leaved forests, sand dunes and a part of the sea coast. A very good place for watching Middle and Great Spotted, the Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Short-toed treecreeper, a breading pair of Whit?-tailed Sea Eagles, Honey Buzzard, Booted Eagle and, if we are lucky, the Semi-collared flycatcher. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: We head north along the Black Sea coast. The next three nights we will spend at the local hotel. The hotel is outside the small town, perched on a hill just above the sea. Two nice wooded valleys can also be seen from the hotel. Very good opportunities to watch Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters, Roller, Syrian Woodpecker, Hobby, Levant Sparrowhawk. On the way north we will stop at oak forest , where we will concentrate on spotting Great, Middle and Lesser Spotted, Grey-headed, Green, and Black Woodpeckers, and, if we have some good luck, the rare White-backed Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper. Lunch at the local forest restaurant. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: A visit to the local steppe region. This is a coastal headland. Its white and reddish cliffs descend precipitously into the depths of the sea from a height of over 200 m. Inland, the sky above the rolling steppe is dotted with slow-flapping Calandra and Short-toed Larks. The habitat also suits Isabeline and Pied Wheatears and Stone curlew. Almost everywhere, perched on small shrubs we can see Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed and Corn Buntings. This is also the region where sometimes the Rose-coloured Starlings appear during their periodic invasions from Asia. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: After an early breakfast a visit to a lake follows. It's a very important wetland area for the breeding, migrating and wintering birds with its extensive reed-beds and open water area. Here we will be most interested to spot Paddyfield Warbler, Collared Pratincole, Spotted and Little Crakes, Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Ferruginous Duck, Little and Great Bitterns, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, Bearded Tit, Red-footed Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Driving inland today, we'll cross the Dobrudza steppes to reach the Danube river valley, with its. famous lakes. Its extensive reed-beds give perfect shelter for globally threatened with extinction Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous duck, Pygmy cormorant and a number of other more or less rare birds like Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Purple, Squacco and Night Herons, Marsh Harrier, Penduline Tit to breed. The Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Goshawk breed in the broad-leaved forests around the lake. The Ruddy Shellduck also breeds in the banks of the small dry valleys around the lake. In the afternoon we will visit the Danube river proper. Birds likely to be seen there: Dalmatian Pelicans, Herons, Woodpeckers. Night at local hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Driving west along the Danube we'll visit a Danube marshland. Initially the area was a typical Danube riverside marsh, then it was turned into a fish farm during the communist regime, and today it is a partially restored marshland again. A good place for watching Whiskered Tern, Red-necked, Black-necked, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Pygmy Cormorant. In the afternoon we head south to the Balkan , where we can visit an open-air museum . We will stay overnight at the local hotel (built in the traditional Bulgarian architectural style). There is a restaurant at the hotel offering Bulgarian national dishes and drinks. At the open-air museum those interested can have a look at our old Bulgarian crafts and buy some typical Bulgarian souvenirs. Here is one of the last opportunities on this trip to see the Dipper, Somber tit and some more Woodpeckers. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Transfer to Sofia. Depending on the international flights we may visit a mountain , close to Sofia, where we can finish our tour with Nutcracker, Crossbill, Coal Tit., Pallid swift. Includes: (B), (L).
All the prices are in US dollars. Every tourist can pay in any currency he declares to do so.
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