Hotspots on hot places!
Giving a special attention to the southern parts of Bulgaria is mostly recommended to those, who do not want to spend their time in traveling instead of carrying out detailed observations in several places, where the diversity of bird species is really fabulous. Choosing this tour you will have enough time to explore both the local area and its avian complex, comprising primarily more than 20 species of breeding birds of prey (Black, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard etc.) as well as huge variety of small passerines (Black-eared Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Cirl Bunting etc.). A well balanced tour, providing the opportunity to enjoy some really rare species, requiring more time and patience for their observation!
Day 1. Arrival.
After arrival at Sofia Airport we have a transfer to the hotel in Vitosha Mountain, where we will stay overnight. After check-in we go for walking around the hotel area or, in case of early flight, across the mountain meadows and ravines, which will ensure a pleasant meeting with many mountain specialties (Pallid Swift, Black Woodpecker, Black Redstart, Crag Martin, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit, Common Crossbill, Ring Ouzel, Ortolan Bunting, Yellowhammer, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Corncrake, Dipper, Nutcracker).
Day 2. Transfer to Trigrad
The first half of the day is dedicated to en-route stops along Maritza River (Levant Sparrowhawk, Little and Great Bittern, Cetti’s, Icterine, Olivaceous Warbler, Roller, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Masked and Red-backed Shrike, Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrows, Black-headed Bunting, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin) and hilly countryside (Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Eleonora Falcon Stone Curlew, Calandra and Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Great Spotted Cucoo, Sardinian Warbler, Black-headed and Rock Bunting). In the afternoon we continue to the village of Trigrad in the Western Rhodopes, where we stay two nights.
Day 3. Trigrad Gorge
The next morning we explore the mountain for Long-eared and Pygmy Owl, Black, Green and Grey-headed Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Black Redstart, Rock Bunting, Bulfinch, Goldcrest, Crested, Marsh and Long-tailed Tit, Corncrake, etc.. Foraging Peregrine Falcons or Hobbies disturb the tranquillity in the area with their energetic flight. And more importantly, Trigrad Gorge is one of the most popular European sites for watching the Wallcreeper.
Day 4. Trigrad – Madzharovo
On our way to the Eastern Rhodopes we deviate to cut in the picturesque mountain to explore the southern shores of Studen Kladenetz Dam (Golden Eagle, Griffon, Egyptian and Black Vulture, Lesser Kestrel, Black-eared Wheatear, Olive-tree, Sub-alpine and Sardinian Warbler, Rock Nuthatch, Masked Shrike, Black-headed Bunting, Black Stork, Eagle Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Chukar). After that we head to the realm of the birds of prey in Eastern Europe – the Eastern Rodopi Mountains and the town of Madzharovo. Later in the afternoon we will have some time to enjoy the terrific view of the valley of Arda River from the above (Black Stork, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Scops Owl, Rock and Blue Rock Thrush, Barred, Orphean, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers, Cirl and Rock Buntings, Red-rumped Swallows, Black-eared Wheatears, Rock Nuthatches etc.). We spend the next two nights near Madzharovo.
Day 5. The meanders of Arda River and the lakes of the Eastern Rhodopes
It will be an active birding day. In the morning we make a trip to the spectacular area of Studen Kladenets dam and explore the vicinity of the village of Potochnitsa. There we will have short strolls to a few watchpoints (Egyptian, Griffon and Black Vulture, Long-legged and Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Barred, Orphean, Sardinian and Subalpine Warbler, Cirl and Rock Bunting, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Nuthatch, Chukar, etc.). In the afternoon we make a short trip along the Krumovitsa River where we will continue watching and hearing passerines advertising their appearance in the undulating countryside (Stone-curlew, Olivaceous and Olive-tree Warbler, Masked, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike etc.). Around evening we turn back to the Wild Farm lodging near Madzharovo..
Day 6. Madzharovo – Strandzha
In the morning we depart from the Eastern Rhodopes for a diverting journey to the town of Burgas on the Black Sea Coast. Our trip will pass through interesting habitats in Sakar Mountain (Lesser Kestrel,,Lesser Spotted, Short-toed, and Booted Eagles, Olive-tree and Olivaceous Warbler, Barred, Orphean, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers Red-rumped Swallow, Isabelline Wheatear, Woodchat, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrike, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Cirl and Black-headed Bunting etc.). By the town of Topolovgrad we will see colonies of the attractive little Suslik – the hunting subject of the Eastern Imperial Eagle. The fields nearby are also a regular feeding place for Montagu’s Harriers, Red-footed Falcons, Lesser Spotted and Golden Eagle. We cross the Strandzha Mountain to the picturesque area of Kovach where we stay overnight.
Day 7. Strandzha – Burgas
Early morning in the surrounded area provides some birding delight (Egyptian Vulture, Booted Eagles, Olive-tree and Barred Warbler, Green Woodpecker, Nightjar, Long-eared, Tawny and Barn Owl, Golden Oriole, Crested and Long-tailed Tit, Masked and Woodchat Shrike, Rosefinch, Woodlark, Corncrake). Then we take a short journey to Burgas on the road along the river of Ropotamo and the adjacent sea beaches (Pallid Harier, Greater Spotted and White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Mediterranean Shearwater, Spotted and Little Crake, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard). Approaching the city, we check the area around the levee of the enormous Mandra lake (White-tailed Eagle, Hobby, Levant Sparrowhawk, Cattle and Great White Egret, Squaco herron, Citrine Wagtail, Great White and Dalmation Pelican, Barred and Sardinian Warbler, Savi’s and Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticolla). We stay in Burgas for two nights.
Day 8. Bourgas – Atanasovsko, Mandra and Poda lakes
The tangible contrast from the mountain habitats in the previous days, compared to visiting the wetlands by the town of Bourgas (Atanasovsko, Mandra and Poda lakes) offers a delight of a whole new complex of species. In these important nesting places typical breeders are Great Cormorants, Night, Squacco and Purple Herons, Little Egrets, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibises, White-tailed Eagle, Yellow-legged Gulls, Little Terns, Collared Pratincoles and many wader species. Migrating or resting Pygmy Cormorants, White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Whiskered Terns, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls are very likely to be registered. It is possible to enjoy also rarities like Slender-billed Curlews, Citrine Wagtails etc.
Day 9. Bourgas – Sofia
In the morning, after checking the enormous hyper-saline Atanasovsko Lake, we start the journey back to Sofia. En route we stop around the town of Sliven to observe the hilly area (Imperial Eagles, Black Kite, Pallid and Montagu`s, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Lark, Roller, Stone Curlew). In the evening we are back to our first hotel at the foot of Vitosha.
Day 10. Departure
Early morning before leaving the country, the Mountain is still quiet and peaceful, giving better prospects. We get moving uphill at the foot of Mont Cherni (Alpine Cough, Grey-headed and Black Woodpecker, Rufus-tailed Rock Thrush, Alpine Accentor, Crossbill, Ring Ouzel, Firecrest, Corncrake, Nutcracker). Transfer to the airport for departure is the close down of this tour.
Note: Luggage transportation is taken care throughout the whole journey.
How to get there? please check: Wizz Air - http://wizzair.com/; Easy Jet - http://www.easyjet.com/; Germanwings - http://www.germanwings.com/; Penguin Travel – http://www.flybulgarien.dk/; Norwegian Air Shuttle - http://www.norwegian.no/, Airberlin - http://www.airberlin.com;
Recommended travel period of the year: May and September
Links to additional information:
http://birdwatchingbulgaria.com/ - Birdwatching and birding holidays in Bulgaria