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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Bulgaria – The Black Sea Coast, 20th September to 4th October 2008,
Red-breasted Flycatcher, Fred Gould
This was a new destination for all concerned though one that had been on the agenda for some time. It proved a surprisingly and frustratingly difficult trip to organise, what with cancelled flights, unanswered emails/booking requests and a general lack of detailed information. Nevertheless, it proved well worth the effort.
Bulgaria turned out to be a country of huge contrasts, some shocking scenes of poverty and deprivation sitting cheek by jowl with conspicuous consumerism: squalid shanty towns of wooden shacks just yards from new hotels and shopping malls, people openly rummaging through rubbish bins, ‘working girls’ soliciting for business in broad daylight in country lay-bys and on street corners, litter everywhere. If that all sounds depressing and unwelcoming, don’t let it put you off; the people are friendly and helpful, the food’s great and the birdlife spectacular.
Whilst both flights and car hire are relatively expensive, accommodation, food and drink are all very good value once you’re there. Despite its increasing popularity as a birding destination, information was not easy to come by. Most trip reports on the internet originated from bird tour companies who, perhaps understandably, steer clear of giving detailed information; little wonder as it’s perfectly possible to do the same sort of trip for a fraction of the amount such companies charge – we paid less for a fortnight than is commonly charged for a week and we weren’t exactly roughing it. So, as we were unable to obtain a copy of Where To Watch Birds In Bulgaria by Petar Iankow, we were largely reliant on Gosney’s Finding Birds in Bulgaria, which, in common with most of the Gosney guides, is way out of date as far as the bird stuff is concerned but still proves very useful for site details and directions. We also used the Reise 1:130000 map of the Bulgaria Black Sea Coast.
Circumstances dictated that our trip took place a bit later than originally planned and, perhaps, a week or two earlier might have produced more waders and greater numbers of raptors. Nevertheless, highlights were many and varied though high on the list were super views of a Spotted Eagle, a flock of 76 Red-footed Falcons, Saker Falcon, Terek Sandpiper, 15 Red-necked Phalaropes together, thousands of Red-backed Shrikes, hundreds of Red-breasted Flycatchers and what seemed like the world’s biggest Swallow roost.
Perhaps best described as mixed. About four days in total were wet, windy and cold (three of them in a row!), six or seven sunny and warm and the rest somewhere in between. Maximum daytime temperatures ranged from about 10C to about 25C. Birding light was from about 06.45 to 20.00.
Having had our original flights with Monarch cancelled and our second changed by Balkan Holidays to a day later than booked, we eventually flew from Manchester to Varna with Balkan Holidays www.balkanholidays.co.uk (booked over the internet, £228.85 per person and efficient despite having to land at East Midlands en route, though the in-flight meal consisted of no more than a sandwich and a thimbleful of coffee). At Varna airport we picked up a hired Seat Altea four-door diesel automatic (£436 booked over the internet with Auto-Europe www.auto-europe.co.uk and very smooth and hassle-free). It had proved impossible to book a hire car with some firms as we needed to drop the vehicle off in the early hours of the morning to tie in with our return flight but there was no problem with Auto-Europe/Hertz who simply arranged a drop off point for the car and keys.
Varna airport is something of a nightmare to find, especially in the dark, with no signposts until you’re virtually there. Bourgas looked a much easier proposition, being in open country next to a main road.
Road surfaces were often of poor quality and signposts unhelpful or lacking altogether but Bulgarian drivers tended to be patient and courteous (impromptu roadside stops to view birds didn’t elicit the frenzied hooting of car horns that we usually experience in Spain for example). Our final evening did involve some unwanted excitement. Returning to our hotel, we decided to fill up with fuel before the journey to the airport in the early hours and, whilst reversing up to the diesel pump, accidentally collided with another vehicle driven by a very excitable young Bulgarian lady who, despite the virtually invisible damage to the front of her car, insisted on phoning the police immediately. This resulted in a visit to the local police station, the attention of five (very polite) police officers. an administrator, an interpreter and, almost two hours later, a fine of 100 Levs. Apparently, it is an offence to reverse on a garage forecourt in Bulgaria!
Having never visited Bulgaria before and knowing that we would be arriving in mid-afternoon on a Saturday, we thought it prudent to pre-book our first few nights’ accommodation. This proved rather more difficult than anticipated. Despite many hotels having their own websites and details of lots more appearing on more general internet sites, it turned out to be frustratingly difficult, in fact mostly impossible, to get replies to emails or booking requests. We were, therefore, relieved to eventually have a reservation confirmed by TS Travel Ltd, a Bulgarian booking agency, at the Hotel Yanitsa in Krapec, an excellent value hotel used by some of the bird tour companies that looked very inviting on its website. Arriving there late on Saturday afternoon, we were less than delighted to find our pre-booked – and pre-paid! – accommodation unavailable due to the slight technical hitch of the Hotel Yanitsa having closed for the winter a week earlier, leaving just a security guard cum caretaker in charge! We did eventually obtain a full refund from TS Travel but it’s a strange system that allows bookings to be made without any apparent contact with the hotel concerned. Our advice would be not to attempt to pre-book; at least at this time of year there are plenty of vacancies.
We stayed at the following:-
Hunters House at Ezerec
www.huntershouse-bg.com email firstname.lastname@example.org Modern and comfortable with friendly English and French speaking hosts and excellent home made food in huge quantities. Situated on the edge of the small village of Ezerec and very handily placed for Durankulak and Shabla, with Cape Kaliakra just half an hour’s drive away. However, the nature of the place is obvious from its name – it does what it says on the tin - and the hunting influence, including lots of stuffed birds on display ranging from herons to raptors, may not be to everyone’s taste. Indeed, we were the first birders ever to stay there according to the proprietor but, having found our original choice of hotel closed and expecting to have to drive back as far as Kavarna to search for an alternative, we were delighted to come across the sign at the side of the main road leading to this place. What dissuaded us from returning here later in our trip was the feeling that we’d been duped over the cost. The total bill for four nights bed, breakfast and evening meal plus a few beers came to 1200 Levs for four of us, which, by most European standards, is by no means exorbitant but was considerably more than we’d been led to believe when we booked in. As the bill consisted of no more than a few figures scribbled on a scrap of paper, we were in no position to argue.
Hotel St Petar and Pavel at Pomorie
http://www.bulrest.com/pomorie/index.php?oID=1444&cID=1 Five nights at 60 Levs per night for a twin-bedded room including breakfast. Modern and comfortable with a good restaurant and nicely situated on the outskirts of Pomorie right next to the saltpans. Our stay here was soured slightly by an unsavoury altercation with an ex-Stasi type member of the hotel staff who informed us, in no uncertain terms, that no breakfast food was to be removed from the restaurant (something we’ve done all over Europe in the past without the slightest problem) – clearly a bit of customer relations training needed here.
Hotel Otdih at Kavarna
www.hotelotdih.com email email@example.com Five nights (well five and a half perhaps) at 90 Levs a night per twin-bedded room including breakfast. Very modern and comfortable with helpful, friendly, English-speaking staff and a good, by no means expensive, restaurant (though the live band playing the same few songs every night became tiresome after a while!). Handily situated on the edge of Kavarna, with easy access out to Cape Kaliakra and just 30 minutes or so drive from Durankulak. The only place we stayed that accepted credit cards. Our only minor complaints here – being over-charged for a bottle of wine, a waiter failing to return with the change from our restaurant bill and having to pay full price for a room that we occupied only until 12.30am – could all have occurred in any hotel anywhere in the world.
Credit cards are not widely accepted though there appears to be no shortage of ATMs.
Lake Durankulak, Ian Kinley
Cape Kaliakra, Dave Thexton
Shabla Lake, Dave Thexton
Shablenska Tuzla, Ian Kinley
This is an extension of Shabla Lake to which it is connected by a canal. The site consists of a fairly small area of viewable open water fringed by tall reeds and surrounded by rough grassland. Access is via driveable tracks leading from the village of Ezerec. It probably doesn’t merit a special visit but provided a useful early morning and evening venue for us when staying at the nearby Hunters House. Species seen here or around the village of Ezerec included Purple Heron, Osprey, Quail, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, Bee Eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-throated Pipit, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-breasted Flycatcher and our only Lesser Grey Shrike of the trip.
Situated in the far northeast close to the Romanian border, this is one of the most significant wetlands along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The open water tended to be mostly rather distant from any viewpoints that we found and, in any event, it proved largely unproductive. Interest centred more on the reedbeds and surrounding farmland and rough ground along with the small area of woodland next to the campsite (Camping Kocmoc). Access points were largely as per Gosney and, in particular, the “new site” described in the internet update on the Birdguides website at http://www.birdguides.com/products/findingbirdsin/BKB.asp Species recorded here included Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Egret, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Ferruginous Duck, Honey Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Osprey, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Quail, Arctic Skua, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Bee Eater, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Red-throated Pipit, Bluethroat, Siberian Stonechat, Moustached Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Penduline Tit.
Pomorie Saltpans, Ian Kinley
Waders at Pomorie, Dave Thexton
Atanasovsko Lake, Ian Kinley
Bourgas Lake, Derek McAlone
This prominent headland with its vertical cliffs, limestone plateau and general variety of habitats really has the look and feel of a migrant hotspot. You get the impression that anything could turn up here. In addition, the Bolata Gorge (Gosney’s “ravine” site 3) gives an added dimension to the site. Incidentally, the loop road on the approach to this site shown on Gosney’s map doesn’t seem to exist; there’s just one road leading down into the gorge from which a narrow but driveable track heads left for a few hundred metres along the valley floor and alongside the reedy pools. We had no difficulties with access to any of this site, even driving in amongst the newly installed wind turbines (the area favoured by huge flocks of Calandra Larks) seemed no problem. There is a charge of three Levs per person to access the last few hundred metres to the car-park on the headland, which can become very busy with tourists, but both the toll and the tourists can be avoided by arriving early morning. Species here included Pygmy Cormorant, Great White Egret, Ferruginous Duck, Honey Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Short-toed Eagle, Osprey, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Quail, Corncrake, Eagle Owl, Nightjar, Bee Eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Woodlark, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Pied Wheatear, Icterine Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Shabla Lake and Shablenska Tuzla
The main lake and marsh is not easy to access, and we found just one point where we were able to drive down to view an area of open water. This was via a track leading west about halfway along the road between the turn-off back to Shabla village and where a locked gate forces you to turn right towards the campsite. Shablenska Tuzla is a shallow lagoon just inland from the sea (this is Gosney’s “wader pool”) that’s excellent for waders and wildfowl.
Black-necked Grebe, Fred Gould
Pygmy Cormorant, Dave Thexton
Squacco Heron, Ian Kinley
Purple Heron, Dave Thexton
The water level was very low on our first visit resulting in most birds being rather distant but had risen considerably later in our trip. The surrounding reeds hamper viewing and the relatively few spots with unrestricted views often seemed to be into the light or distant or both. Gosney describes this site as “equivalent to a large village pond” that “offers excellent views”– clearly he frequents different villages to us! In dry conditions, it’s possible to drive along the track on the inland side accessed from the end of the road past the campsite but this had become impassable by vehicle (except maybe a 4x4) later in our trip. The woodland and scrub surrounding the seemingly disused campsite was good for passerine migrants. Species included Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Goshawk, Short-toed Eagle, Osprey, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Saker Falcon, Little Crake, Spotted Crake, Red-necked Phalarope, Caspian Tern, Bee Eater, Red-throated Pipit, Syrian Woodpecker, Icterine Warbler, and Red-breasted Flycatcher.
An extensive area of disused saltpans, excellent for waders, gulls and terns. Despite the insalubrious surroundings this is a super site. The best access point that we found was at the salt museum (we weren’t tempted inside, fascinating though it sounded!), which is signposted (drive past the football stadium on the southeastern outskirts of Pomorie). It’s possible to park and view from here (there’s even a covered area with seating if it’s wet) and also to walk west then north along the shore to view the shallow lagoons that held most of the birds when we were there. Species here included Red-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, Quail, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Slender-billed Gull, Caspian Gull, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Hoopoe, Red-throated Pipit, Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Honey Buzzard, Dave Thexton
Black Kite, Fred Gould
Steppe Buzzard, Fred Gould
Short-toed Eagle, Dave Thexton
This is a huge lake, the largest natural lake in Bulgaria in fact, but access is not great with relatively few decent viewpoints. Admittedly, our two visits were both in poor weather which didn’t really encourage us to explore the area as much as we might otherwise have done and the hustle and bustle of Bourgas itself deterred us from searching out the viewing areas within the city itself. One of the few spots we found that did give good views of at least part of the lake was on the west side just west of Gorno Ezerovo where the road overlooks a shallow sheltered bay (site 1 in Gosney). Species at this site included White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Flamingo, Bittern, Spoonbill, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Bee Eater and Roller.
Mandra is the southernmost of the three lakes around Bourgas and is another large area of water with relatively poor access; at least that was our impression though, as with Bourgas Lake, we were there only in cold, wet weather. Our one visit here was restricted to a couple of relatively brief stops along the road between Debelt and Konstantinovo so we probably never found the best areas. Our sole visit produced Pygmy Cormorant, White Pelican, Black Stork, White Stork and Whiskered Tern.
Situated just northwest of Bourgas, this shallow lake and area of saltpans was not hugely productive for us though it can be a good site for viewing the raptor migration. Indeed, there is a ringing station and raptor-monitoring site here. However, we found that on our visits the raptors were passing further inland and it’s a case of seeing what’s happening and locating the flight path on the day. The lake itself was viewable from a driveable, though potholed, track just off the main E87; it’s difficult to give precise directions as it’s really just a case of trial and error until you find the right track (it took us several attempts).
Lesser Spotted Eagle, Ian Kinley
Lesser Spotted Eagle, Dave Thexton
Our raptor watching was mostly from a lay-by on the road west of Bourgas Airport leading up to Cerno More and Rudnik or from a driveable track heading west off that road almost due west of the airport. Species around the lake and our raptor watching sites just inland included White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Black Stork, White Stork, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Slender-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Bee Eater and Red-throated Pipit.
We also spent a short time on two days (in awful weather on one occasion) in woodland and scrub inland from Atanasovsko in the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik, where species included Grey-headed Woodpecker, Wryneck and Cirl Bunting. In addition, we made several stops in woodland between Pomorie and Varna on the day that we travelled back north, basically just pulling off the main road onto side tracks wherever the habitat looked decent. This produced Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Bee Eater, Roller, Syrian and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Red-breasted Flycatcher and a selection of common (common in Britain anyway) woodland birds that were new for the trip.
Red-necked Phalaropes, Fred Gould
Slender-billed Gulls, Fred Gould
Syrian Woodpecker, Fred Gould
Bluethroat, Fred Gould
Pied Wheatear, Fred Gould
Red-backed Shrike, Ian Kinley
20th September Travelled from Manchester to Varna then on to Ezerec, Just a couple of hours’ birding around Ezerec Lake in the evening. Daily total 27 species. Overnight at Ezerec.
21st September Birding at Lake Durankulak and around Ezerec Lake Daily total 73 species. Overnight at Ezerec.
22nd September Birding at Cape Kaliakra and around Ezerec. Daily total 61 species. Overnight at Ezerec.
23rd September Birding at Shabla Lake, Shablenska Tuzla and around Ezerec. Daily total 81 species. Overnight at Ezerec.
24th September Travelled to Pomorie. Birding at Pomorie saltpans. Daily total 65 species. Overnight at Pomorie.
25th September Birding at Pomorie saltpans, Bourgas Lake and Mandra Lake. Daily total 74 species. Overnight at Pomorie.
26th September Birding at Pomorie saltpans, the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik and the Atanasovsko Lake area. Daily total 61 species. Overnight at Pomorie.
27th September Birding at Pomorie saltpans and the Atanasovsko Lake area. Daily total 88 species. Overnight at Pomorie.
28th September Birding at Pomorie saltpans, the Atanasovsko Lake area, the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik and Bourgas Lake. Daily total 107 species. Overnight at Pomorie.
29th September Travelled from Pomorie to Kavarna. Birding at several woodland sites between Pomorie and Varna and at Cape Kaliakra. Daily total 74 species. Overnight at Kavarna.
30th September Birding at Lake Durankulak. Daily total 83 species. Overnight at Kavarna.
1st October Birding at Shabla Lake, Shablenska Tuzla and around Ezerec Lake. Daily total 76 species. Overnight at Kavarna.
2nd October Birding at Cape Kaliakra. Daily total 62 species. Overnight at Kavarna.
3rd October Birding at Lake Durankulak, Shabla Lake and Shablenska Tuzla. Daily total 82 species. Overnight at Kavarna.
4th October Flew back from Varna to Manchester in the early hours of the morning. No birding.
We recorded a total of 194 species. The figures in brackets represent the number of days each species was recorded (e.g. 4/14 means that a species was seen on four days during our 14 day trip (bearing in mind the very limited amount of time spent in the field on the first day and disregarding the last day when no birding was done) and gives a crude indication of how easy each species was to see. More details are given of the rarer or more interesting species.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis (7/14)
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (7/14)
Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena (1/14) One at Pomorie Saltpans on 26/9.
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (9/14) Frequent sightings close inshore on the Black Sea and numerous at Pomorie Saltpans.
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (14/14)
Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus (7/14) Small numbers at Lake Durankulak, Bolata Gorge, Shabla Lake and Mandra Lake
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis (4/14) A few offshore at Cape Kaliakra and Shablenka Tuzla.
White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus (3/14) c2000 on Bourgas Lake and a distant uncounted flock on Mandra Lake on 25/9; a flock of c700 over the city of Bourgas (seen from near Atanasovsko Lake) on 27/9; c300 in flight near Atanasovsko Lake on 28/9 and, interestingly, just small numbers seen on Bourgas Lake the same day.
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus (4/14) At least 10 on Bourgas Lake on 25/9, 20 at Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9, small numbers on Bourgas Lake on 28/9 and one at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Bittern Botaurus stellaris (1/14) One in flight at Bourgas Lake on 25/9.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus (1/14) A fem/imm seen in flight at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (2/14) A single at Shabla Lake on 23/9 and 1/10.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (8/14) Widespread in small numbers, commonest at Pomorie Saltpans where up to 50 were to be seen.
Great White Egret Ardea alba (8/14) Low single figures recorded at Lake Durankulak, Shabla Lake, Bolata Gorge, Pomorie Saltpans and Atanasovsko Lake.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (8/14)
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (6/14) Low single figures recorded at Ezerec Lake, Lake Durankulak and Shabla Lake.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra (4/14) 80 flying off from near Mandra Lake on 25/9; 74 in flight near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9; a total of 483 migrating near Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9 followed by just one next day.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia (3/14) 12 with the Black Storks flying off from near Mandra Lake on 25/9; at least six in flight near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9 and 10+ near Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9.
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia (2/14) c100 flew over Shabla Lake on 23/9; small numbers at Bourgas Lake on 25/9.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus (1/14) c50 at Bourgas Lake on 25/9.
Mute Swan Cygnus olor (6/14)
Greylag Goose Anser anser (1/14) Four at Lake Durankulak on 3/10.
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (3/14) One at Shablenska Tuzla on all our three visits to the site.
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna (8/14)
Wigeon Anas Penelope (1/14)
Gadwall Anas strepera (2/14)
Teal Anas crecca (7/14)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (7/14)
Pintail Anas acuta (6/14)
Shoveler Anas clypeata (7/14)
Pochard Aythea farina (2/14)
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (2/14) Singles at Lake Durankulak on 21/9 and Bolata Gorge on 29/9.
Greater Scaup Aythya marila (2/14) Three at Pomorie Saltpans on 27/9 and one offshore at Shablenska Tuzla on 1/10.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus (4/14) Five or six at Lake Durankulak on 21/9; one near Atanasovsko Lake on 28/9; two at Lake Durankulak on 30/9 and one at Bolata Gorge on 2/10.
Black Kite Milvus migrans (2/14) One near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9 and c20 there on 27/9.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (5/14) Two perching on pylons near Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9; three near Atanasovsko Lake and one in a tree near Bourgas Lake on 28/9; one between Pomorie and Varna on 29/9; one at Shablenska Tuzla on 1/10 and at least four at Cape Kaliakra on 2/10, including three or more particularly obliging birds in the Bolata Gorge.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (12/14) Widespread and common.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus (1/14) A juvenile at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Pallid Harrier Circus (3/14) A male near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9, two males near Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9 and a male at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus (1/14) A juvenile near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9.
Goshawk Accipiter gentiles (2/14) One chasing Starlings at Shablenska Tuzla on 23/9 and one at Cape Kaliakra on 2/10.
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (7/14)
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes (2/14) Two juvs at Cape Kaliakra on 2/10 and a juv at Lake Durankulak on 3/10.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo (11/14) Heavy passage at times including 1000 or more near Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9; many were Steppe Buzzards.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus (4/14) Six near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9 with three there on 27/9 and four on 28/9, plus one between Kavarna and Shabla on 1/10.
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga (1/14) A juvenile gave super views low over the road just west of Pomorie on 28/9.
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina (9/14) One en route from Varna to Ezerec on 20/9; stunning views of a juvenile sitting in a ploughed field at Lake Durankulak on 21/9; an adult in a stubble field between Ezerec and Kavarna on 22/9; four between Ezerec and Pomorie on 24/9; five near Bourgas Lake on 25/9; at least 43 near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9; c300 near Atanasovsko Lake on 27/9; c100 near Atanasovsko Lake on 28/9 and 75+ between Pomorie and Varna on 29/9.
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus (1/14) One dark morph near Atanasovsko Lake on 28/9.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus (6/14) Frequent sightings of up to six birds at Lake Durankulak, Shabla Lake, Shablenska Tuzla, Atanasovsko Lake and Cape Kaliakra.
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (10/14)
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus (9/14) Frequent sightings at sites such as Lake Durankulak, Cape Kaliakra, Shablenska Tuzla, the Atanasovsko Lake area and Bourgas Lake, mostly in small numbers except for 76 on wires near Bourgas Lake on 25/9, a particularly wet day.
Hobby Falco subbuteo (7/14) Frequently seen at sites such as Lake Durankulak, Cape Kaliakra, Shablenska Tuzla, Bourgas Lake and Atanasovsko Lake.
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug (1/14) An adult seen both in flight and perched at Shablenska Tuzla on 1/10.
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix (1/14)
Quail Coturnix coturnix (5/14) Frequently heard calling early in the trip – a bit surprising in view of the date - and a few individuals accidentally flushed.
Pheasant Phasianus colchacus (5/14)
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus (9/14) Heard at several wetland sites.
Spotted Crake Porzana porzana (1/14) One at Shablenska Tuzla on 3/10.
Little Crake Porzana parva (1/14) Two at Shablenska Tuzla on 3/10.
Corncrake Crex crex (1/14) One flushed from the roadside while we were examining a dead Nightjar at Cape Kaliakra on 2/10.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus (5/14)
Coot Fulica atra (4/14)
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus (1/14)
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (3/14) Scarce.
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (8/14)
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (5/14)
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (9/14)
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (4/14)
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (5/14)
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus (6/14)
Sanderling Calidris alba (7/14)
Little Stint Calidris minuta (8/14) Records included 100 or more at Shablenska Tuzla and Pomorie Saltpans.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (8/14) Seen in small numbers with no more than a dozen at any site.
Dunlin Calidris alpina (8/14)
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus (1/14) One at Pomorie Saltpans on 28/9.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax (9/14)
Snipe Gallinago gallinago (8/14)
Curlew Numenius arquata (5/14)
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythopus (1/14)
Redshank Tringa tetanus (5/14)
Greenshank Tringa nebularia (8/14)
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus (2/14)
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (5/14)
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus (2/14) One at Pomorie Saltpans on 27/9 and 28/9.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos (1/14)
Turnstone Arenaria interpres (3/14)
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus (6/14) At Pomorie Saltpans there were 15 on 25/9, one on 26/9, seven on 27/9 and nine on 28/9. A single bird was at Shablenska Tuzla on 1/10 and 3/10.
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus (1/14) Two offshore at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (12/14) Seen at most wetland sites, most notably c700 at Lake Durankulak on 21/9 and c200 at Shablenska Tuzla on 23/9.
Little Gull Larus minutus (10/14) Sightings included 200 at Shablenska Tuzla on 23/9 and c2000 at Pomorie Saltpans on 26/9.
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus (11/14)
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (4/14) 40+ at Pomorie Saltpans and smaller numbers at Atanasovsko Lake.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis (14/14)
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans (2/14) An adult at Pomorie Saltpans on 24/9 and one or two adults there on 27/9 were the only ones we picked out but doubtless more were present.
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica (1/14) A single near Atanasovsko Lake on 26/9.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia (5/14) At Pomorie Saltpans, one on 24/9, two on 25/9, 26/9 and 27/9, plus two at Shabla Lake on 1/10.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis (12/14)
Common Tern Sterna hirundo (13/14)
Little Tern Sternula albifrons (5/14)
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida (4/14) Seen in small numbers at Lake Durankulak, Pomorie Saltpans and Mandra Lake.
Black Tern Chlidonias niger (8/14) Seen in small numbers at Lake Durankulak and Pomorie Saltpans.
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus (2/14) Two juveniles at Pomorie Saltpans on 26/9 and a single juvenile at Lake Durankulak on 3/10.
Feral Pigeon Columba livia (14/14)
Stock Dove Columba oenas (1/14)
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus (1/14)
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto (14/14)
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (7/14)
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius (1/14) One at Lake Durankulak on 21/9 was unexpected.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus (1/14) Two late birds on roadside wires near Durankulak on 3/10.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo (1/14) Three birds seen and heard on top of the cliffs at the Bolata Gorge, Cape Kaliakra from 19.10 onwards on 29/9.
Little Owl Athene noctua (3/14)
Tawny Owl Strix aluca (1/14)
Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (1/14) At least three seen on the road and flying in the headlights of our car as we drove back along Cape Kaliakra in the dark after our Eagle Owl evening on 29/9 and, sadly but not surprisingly, one found dead on the road in the same area on 2/10.
Common Swift Apus apus (6/14)
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus (1/14) Two at Pomorie on 27/9.
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis (9/14)
Bee-eater Merops apiaster (12/14) Frequent migrating flocks of 50 or more, especially early in the trip.
Roller Coracias garrulus (3/14) Two on wires with Red-footed Falcons near Bourgas Lake on 25/9, one in the same place (though the Red-Foots had gone) on 28/9 and one between Pomorie and Varna on 29/9.
Hoopoe Upupa epops (6/14)
Wryneck Jynx torquilla (2/14) One in the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik on 28/9 and two at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus (1/14) Heard in the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik on 28/9.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis (1/14) Heard in woodland between Pomorie and Varna on 29/9.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major (3/14)
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopus syriacus (8/14)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus minor (2/14) Singles in the wood at Shablenska Tuzla on 23/9 and in woodland between Pomorie and Varna on 29/9.
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra (2/14) Huge flock of 500+ among the wind turbines at Cape Kaliakra on 22/9 and 2/10.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata (10/14)
Woodlark Lullula arborea (3/14) Small numbers singing at Cape Kaliakra.
Skylark Alauda arvensis (7/14)
Sand Martin Riparia riparia (7/14)
Swallow Hirundo rustica (14/14) A massive roost at Lake Durankulak on 30/9 was truly impressive.
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica (3/14) Quite common for the first three days but absent thereafter.
House Martin Delichon urbicum (8/14)
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris (2/14) At least six on the plateau at Cape Kaliakra on 22/9 and one there on 29/9.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis (8/14)
Red-throated Pipit Anthus (9/14) Frequently recorded in small numbers, usually calling as they flew over, at most sites throughout the trip.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava (14/14)
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea (8/14)
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba (14/14)
Robin Erithacus rubecula (6/14)
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica (2/14) At least three at Lake Durankulak on 30/9 and 3/10.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus (10/14)
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (8/14)
Stonechat Saxicola torquata (1/14) Four birds at Lake Durankulak on 30/9, two of which were seen well enough to identify as Siberian Stonechats.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (8/14)
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschenka (2/14) Three at Cape Kaliakra on 22/9 and one still present there on 2/10.
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus (1/14) One in the wood at Shablenska Tuzla on 23/9.
Blackbird Turdus merula (5/14)
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos (8/14)
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (2/14)
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon (1/14) One at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobanus (2/14)
Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola (2/14) A single seen emerging at the reed edge at Lake Durankulak on 30/9 and 3/10.
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (4/14)
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus (4/14) Occasionally heard at Lake Durankulak and one seen at Cape Kaliakra on 29/9.
Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina (3/14) Two, including a ringed bird, at Cape Kaliakra on 22/9, one at Shablenska Tuzla on 23/9 and one at Cape Kaliakra on 29/9.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca (8/14)
Whitethroat Sylvia communis (5/14)
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (8/14)
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin (5/14)
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus (1/14) One came down to a puddle along with other phylloscopus warblers in a muddy track at Lake Durankulak on 30/9.
Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix (1/14) Two at Pomorie on 24/9.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (11/14)
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus (7/14)
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa sriata (9/14)
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva (11/14) Numerous and widespread. Frequent, often stunning, views of this species provided one of the highlights of the trip.
Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus (3/14) Heard at Shabla Lake and Lake Durankulak.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatos (1/14)
Marsh Tit Parus palustris (1/14)
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus (6/14)
Great Tit Parus major (12/14)
Nuthatch Sitta europaea (1/14)
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris (1/14)
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus (4/14) Occasionally heard at Lake Durankulak and one seen at Shablenska Tuzla on 1/10.
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (1/14) One on the outskirts of Ezerec on 21/9.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius colluria (14/14) Amazingly numerous; at times, every bird we stopped to look at seemed to be either a Spotted Flycatcher or a Red-backed Shrike.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor (1/14) A single at Ezerec Lake on 21/9 was the only one of the trip.
Jay Garrulus glandarius (9/14)
Magpie Pica pica (14/14)
Jackdaw Corvus monedula (8/14)
Rook Corvus frugilagus (2/14)
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix (7/14)
Common Starling Sternus vulgaris (14/14)
House Sparrow Passer domesticus (14/14)
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis (3/14)
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus (6/14)
Serin Serinus serinus (1/14) c10 in the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik on 28/9.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs (/14)
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris (3/14)
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis (10/14)
Linnet Carduelis cannabina (6/14)
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes (2/14)
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirius (1/14) At least half a dozen in the hills between Balgorovo and Rudnik on 28/9.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (13/14) Abundant.