Bulgaria ........ 29th April to 8th May 2023

The Rhodope Mountains & Black Sea Coast


European Bee-eater
Dalmatian Pelican
Although ornithologically Bulgaria is famous as a winter destination for the breathtaking spectacle of its Red-breasted Geese, it is also an exceptional venue in spring. Blessed with enviously diverse landscapes that range from bare mountain slopes to alpine meadows, a vast array broad-leafed deciduous forests, riverine gorges and coastal wetlands, unsurprisingly, its birdlife is rich and varied. Raptors feature prominently with Eurasian Black Vulture, White-tailed, Golden, Eastern Imperial, Booted and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk and Red-footed Falcon among the more enticing. The gorgeous Wallcreeper is an exciting prospect in the magnificent Trigrad Gorge, where Rock Buntings are also present. Eastern European specialities include Eastern Orphean, Barred, Olive-tree and Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Isabelline Wheatear and Masked Shrike. In many areas Nightingales are an ever-present feature, continuing to sing at all times of the day. Then we have marvellous colourful summer visitors in the form of Golden Oriole, European Roller, European Bee-eater and Woodchat Shrike. Woodpeckers also feature well, including Grey-headed, Black, White-backed, Middle Spotted and Syrian. The Southern Black Sea Coast has a host of superb coastal wetlands & marshes, which support a superb range of breeding specialties. Members of the heron family present include Great & Little Egrets, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron and Little Bittern. Add to this the impressive assemblages of breeding and migrating shorebirds, gulls and terns – Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Mediterranean & Little Gulls, Little, Black and White-winged Terns are all possible, then we have a recipe for a memorable birding experience.

Day 1: Early morning flight from UK to Sofia and transfer to our hotel in the Western Rhodopes.
Overnight - Trigrad.

Wallcreeper
Days 2 - 4: During the morning of Day 2, we’ll birdwatch in and around the dramatic Trigrad Gorge - a traditional site for breeding Wallcreepers. It also holds Grey-headed & Black Woodpeckers, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow and Rock Bunting. In afternoon we’ll drive to the Eastern Rhodopes, rugged mountains, with impressive cliff-faces and thinly-vegetated rocky slopes. Key species here include Griffon & Egyptian Vultures, Chukar, Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Eurasian Scops Owl, Black-eared Wheatear, Eastern Subalpine, Orphean, & Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Western Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit and Black-headed Bunting.
Overnights - Eastern Rhodope Mountains.

Days 5 - 8: We drive to the southern Black Sea Coast we shall concentrate on the wetlands around Bourgas. The flagship species of the area are undoubtedly the White and Dalmatian Pelicans but the freshwater lakes, saline lagoons and salt pans form one of Europe’s key wetland sites and attract a whole host of species. Ruddy Shelduck, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco & Purple Herons, Glossy Ibis, Collared Pratincole, Marsh Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Whiskered & White-winged Terns, Savi’s & Great Reed Warblers and Penduline Tit are all possible here. By contrast the mountains offer the chance to find woodpeckers, including Middle Spotted & White-backed, as well as several species of Eagles.
Overnights – Karimorie, Southern Black Sea Coast.

Day 9: Today we head for Sofia but stay on the outskirts at the base of the Vitosha Mountains. En route we will make stops for birding, perhaps at the Sredets Forest and the Karnobat Hills.
Overnight - Sofia

Day 10: Depending on our flight schedule (hopefully pm) we plan to visit the high Vitosha Mountains coniferous forests, where we’ll look for Spotted Nutcracker, Firecrest, Ring Ouzel, Common Crossbill and Coal Tit. We will then head back to the hotel for breakfast and later drive to Sofia Airport for the return flight back to the UK.

Tour ref: AA2302

Cost:
£1,690 Excluding Flights (Est. £190)
Deposit: £400
Single Room Supplement: £135

Leaders: Peter Scholes & Dimiter Georgiev

Max. Group: 12 plus 2 Leaders

Includes: Accommodation based on twin occupancy, meals, transportation in Bulgaria and services of leaders.

Excludes: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.
Europe