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A Report from

Bulgaria, 6th – 15th May 2011,

Mark Easterbrook


A.        The Collins Pocket Guide, Birds of Britain & Europe, with N Africa and the Middle East by Hermann Heinzel, Richard Fitter & John Parslow.


My wife and I travelled with a group from the Boletas Birdwatching Centre, Spain, Huesca with 10 other participants and 2 leaders.  The group consisted of:

Leaders:  Josele J Saiz & Simeon

The Group:  Mark & Deb Easterbrook, John & Val Sanders, John Packer, Andy Levitt, Jay & Jo Whetham, Gwyn McCreanor, Ron & Susan Martin (U.S.) and Alberto Galofre (U.S.)

With the administration and organisation taken care of, the wine was good, the beer cheap and the local foods interesting.  It must be said that the fish from the Black Sea was very good and few stomach upsets were encountered while the company and birding were outstanding.  The report consists of 15 pages with daily itineraries, a consolidated species list and summary.

DAY 1 – 6 May

With the group departing from various airports in the UK and arriving in Sofia at different times the tour did not finally get underway until about 1530 on the first day. While we were waiting for Josele to arrive from Madrid, some brief but productive birding at a small pool next to the airport, produced Little Bittern, at least 2 Great Reed Warblers, and a Nightingale.  Those who had arrived earlier had birded the mountains close to Sofia and were rewarded with Spotted Nutcracker and Firecrest amongst others – birds that were not recovered throughout the remainder of the tour. 

We headed east towards the historic town of Koprivshtitsa stopping along the way and birding from the bus.  One brief stop produced the first Isabelline Wheatears, a Tawny Pipit, various expected hirundines and a Whinchat, with a Yellowhammer being heard.  Our arrival at Koprivshtitsa was greeted by breeding Dippers with 3 young and a Grey Wagtail on a small river in front of the hotel.  Some good food and a glass of red concluded the day.

Day 2 – 7 May

After breakfast we added Willow Tit and Serin to the list before departing for the hills in the Beklemedo National Park.  The wind was chilly when we arrived but we soon added Water Pipits, Whinchats and a Black Redstart before viewing an adult Golden Eagle making rapid progress along the escarpment which was a highlight for many.  Cuckoos called constantly, flocks of Bee-eaters made steady progress north and a male Ring Ouzel of the alpestris race showed well, while a Hen Harrier quartered in the distance.

We departed the location for lunch and shortly after visited a beech forest below the restaurant.  A Redstart was heard and seen, along with a couple of Treecreepers.  However, Gwyn first heard and then eventually we all saw the star of the day – a male White-backed Woodpecker that drummed in front of us and put on a territorial display.

The drive back to the hotel brought a stop at Rozino, which produced several good raptors including Short-toed Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard and a distant Red-footed Falcon.  The supporting cast consisted of a Black-headed Yellow Wagtail, a showy Cuckoo and a Black Stork.

An obliging Cuckoo at Rozino

DAY 3 – 8 May

Departing and making progress towards Topolovgrad, our next destination, the transit day was punctuated by a number of stops at "birdy" locations that resulted in some good sightings.

Stopping firstly at Mariza/Svilengrad – an area of varying habitat next to the river was well worthwhile.  We were greeted by Rollers and Bee-eaters and departed to a Grey Partridge.  In between we had our picnic lunch and sighted a pair of Levant Sparrowhawks, our first Syrian Woodpecker, several Golden Orioles, one of a few Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and one of only 2 Kingfishers along with a cast of commoner migrants.

The next stop was a rocky valley in the area of Yerusalimovo.  This was a picturesque area that was predicted to hold several target species, and did not disappoint.  Woodchat Shrikes were evident, Cirl Buntings sang but never gave themselves up and the ubiquitous Corn Buntings were becoming monotonous.  That said, on the way to the bottom of the valley Mark found a male Black-eared Wheatear, a bird that is at the northern edge of its breeding range and which was missed on the previous tour and Simeon found the first Eastern Orphean Warbler.  At the bottom of the valley there were some pools.  A calling tit soon proved to be a cracking male Sombre Tit; the only one of the tour, whilst Honey Buzzards, a surprise Glossy Ibis and Short-toed Eagles were overhead.  Another short stop a little later provided views of a singing Ortolan Bunting.

Day 4 – 9 May

We made an earlier start from the hotel at Topolovgrad and heading for the Mramor plains in the Saker Hills region.  On our arrival we noted a Tree Pipit, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and several Isabelline Wheatears.  The stars of the show here were a pair of Eastern Imperial Eagles.  The male hunted, caught and fed whilst putting on an aerial display that was unforgettable and a great spectacle.  Supported by kettles of storks including one Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagles and a raft of commoner raptors, so that the morning was a great success.  A stop before lunch rewarded us with a Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Black Kite and a heard but not seen Eastern Bonelli's Warbler.

A Majestic male Eastern Imperial Eagle

After lunch we headed for oak woods near Shtit in search of the next target bird.  The woods were alive with Woodchat Shrikes, Eastern Orphean Warblers and Woodlarks, however our quarry was not evident.  Eventually, we tracked down a pair of Masked Shrikes and the male posed beautifully for the camera.  The woods also revealed several Golden Orioles, a single Ortolan Bunting and a Syrian Woodpecker.  It was becoming clear, that migration was a bit late due to the poor weather before the tour commenced and as a result the stronghold of the Olive-tree Warbler (one of our key target species) was worryingly quiet. – more of this later!

DAY 5 – 10 May

Our departure from Topolovgrad was fairly uneventful but before leaving the town, we stopped for a colony of Pallid Swifts.  Andy was on fire and spotted a Little Owl on top of a chimney that was very grey compared with ours in Britain.  Soon after Andy found a nice pair of Red-footed Falcons sitting on a telegraph wire that were scoped and enjoyed by all.  Heading further east, we paused briefly by the road for a pair of Lesser Spotted Eagles before proceeding to another woodland stop a little further on.  The woods here produced several Hawfinches, at least 2 Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, several Ortolan Buntings, a couple of Nuthatches and a Black Kite.  With lunch approaching we proceeded on our easterly course.

A stop for lunch at Srededs produced a pair of Semi-collared Flycatchers at the nest along with a breeding pair of Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, likewise at the nest hole.  A Raven was noted whilst a 3 White Pelicans above us were the shape of things to come.

After lunch we were close to Bourgas and stopped at Vaya Lake.  Here the first 4 Dalmatian Pelicans were noted with Squacco Herons and hundreds of marsh terns, with all three species being represented.  Around the eastern side of the lake at least 40 Pygmy Cormorants were breeding, accompanied by 2 Glossy Ibises, a suite of various herons and once again numerous marsh terns.

Before moving to the hotel we stopped at the Atamasovsko Lake and Reserve.  Next to the garage on the roundabout a pair of Little Bitterns revealed themselves whilst a Sedge Warbler and Penduline Tit became evident.  A Moorhen feeding young was the first of the trip, before we finally entered the reserve.

The reserve here was very good for water birds with a Ruddy Shelduck, several Garganey and waders including, Spotted Redshank, Wood, Common and Curlew Sandpipers with the only Turnstone and Dunlin of the trip being noted.  A pair of Gull-billed Terns passed overhead whilst John remarkably spotted a pair of distant Kentish Plovers.  Cetti's Warblers were seen by a lucky few whilst Reed Warblers were easier.  On our departure a very showy Nightingale sang and grabbed the attention of many.

Nightingale performing for the crowds

A very tasty fish dinner and some excellent Bulgarian red, washed down with a couple of beers, resulted in a headache the next day.

DAY 6 – 11 May

Today was billed as the Woodpecker day and although this aspect proved to be a little disappointing, some good sightings were made.  The hills and wooded reserve at Strandja Mountain was the destination (the oldest reserve in Bulgaria).  Woodpeckers were conspicuous by their absence with only Great Spotted, Syrian and a very brief Lesser Spotted being seen while Blacks were only heard distantly.  The woods did allow for a photo opportunity of a male Semi-collared Flycatcher that sat still long enough.  We took a picnic lunch in a wet valley in the reserve where Mark spotted the first Lesser Grey Shrike while at least 3 Corncrakes called.  These last birds played their usual hard to get routine and the result was another heard only record for the trip.  A Goshawk was noted by a few prior to our departure.

A stationary male Semi-collared Flycatcher

Whilst returning to the hotel we stopped at Mandra Lake and although a few Great Reed Warblers sang and the lakes were full of marsh terns, the area looked fairly unremarkable.  However, that's why you have a guide.  With previous local knowledge a pair of White-tailed Eagles performed well and allowed everyone to gain excellent views of this majestic bird.

A further stop at Podo Visitor Centre run by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds allowed viewing of several Black-necked Grebes, 2 brief Spoonbills and once again hundreds of marsh terns with a few Common and Sandwich Terns present for good measure.

After dinner the hunt was on for a Eurasian Scops Owl that had been heard singing close to the hotel the night before.  With minimum effort, the bird was located, sitting in the open on a telegraph wire, not 50 metres from the hotel.  It soon retired to a nearby tree but most agreed that it was the easiest Scops Owl they'd ever seen.

DAY 7 – 12 May

We left the hotel and paused at Vaya Lake once more to gain better views of Dalmatian Pelicans and were also rewarded with views of Little Gulls, Night Herons and a Little Bittern.

Continuing our journey to the north-east we headed for Krapets and a lovely hotel on the Black Sea.  Stopping on route throughout the day allowed for some rewarding birding experiences.  We stopped near Pomorie Lake and some salt pans, which soon produced some new birds for the trip.  4 Mediterranean Gulls along with Slender-billed and Black-headed were noted, whilst behind us Kentish Plovers and Little Terns posed for the camera.  A collection of waders included Avocets, Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers accompanied a single Pygmy Cormorant.

We moved on stopping at another area further along Pomorie Lake.  It was agreed that nobody had ever seen so many marsh terns feeding along with Little Gulls, a couple of Little Grebes, and good numbers of herons.  A group of Ruffs fed and a Greenshank was flushed whilst a Willow Warbler caused momentary confusion before it sang.

Kentish Plover


The day continued with a stop at Camchia Riverine Forest and although there remained no Olive-tree Warblers to be heard or seen it did produce the first female Red-backed Shrike, a few Semi-collared Flycatchers and a couple of Hawfinches.

The final stop of the day was in Baltata and although the lap dancing bar and and ice cream looked inviting it was on with the birding in a nearby wood.  As it turned out, the wood was a very good stop.  It produced 3 Little Bitterns, a female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, along with Great and Middle Spotted and the only Long-tailed Tits of the trip.

We arrived at Krapets on the Black Sea, allowing time for a little sea watching.  The only Oystercatcher of the trip was seen and hundreds of Cormorants flew to roost but little else.

DAY 8 – 13 May

The early morning crew scored outside the hotel in an area of scrub and trees with evidence of visible mass migration, a trend that continued for the next 3 days.  At least 2 Collared Flycatchers, a female Red-breasted and Pied were noted, accompanied by Barred Warblers, numerous Golden Orioles, Turtle Doves and Rollers.  A stunning male Pied Wheatear added to the experience.

Today was the day for one of the main target birds of the trip at Duramkulak Lake.  The lakes are about 3km from the Romanian border and were very close to the hotel, allowing for maximum birding time.  Our arrival was greeted by several singing Great Reed Warblers and shortly after, there in the scope was the prize – a cracking singing Paddyfield Warbler.  At least 5 of these striking little birds were eventually seen.  The next 2 hours at the site revealed yet more visible migration in the form of a male Montagu's Harrier, Ruddy Shelduck, Collared Pratincole, Hobby, Sparrowhawks, Marsh Harriers, Red-footed Falcons, and a single Baltic Gull all heading north.  Meanwhile, in the reed beds there were at least 3 reeling Savi's Warblers, a couple of Citrine Wagtails and a pair of Reed Buntings, all of which our U.S. contingent appreciated.

Great Reed Warbler

After lunch we visited Shabla Lake adding many new species for the trip.  A Little Ringed Plover was obvious, as was a Little Bittern, with a pair of Garden Warblers being a bit more difficult.  As we worked our way around the lake we recorded all the herons with the exception of a Bittern and several surprise wildfowl including, Widgeon, single male Pintail and Tufted Duck and a couple of Teal, together with Ferruginous Ducks which were more expected.  Later at the coast at Shablenska Tuzla several Sanderling and a superb Black-throated Diver in full breeding regalia was noted.  Of interest was a record of a Cattle Egret, which is apparently not that common in Bulgaria that surprised our local guide Simeon. 

A little sea watching produced the usual fair but a flock of 38 feeding Yelkouan Shearwaters was a good record.

DAY 9 – 14 May

Things were now getting desperate with absolutely no sign of an Olive-tree Warbler.  Undeterred, we continued with our morning round outside the hotel and were pleased to see that Sylvia warblers were very much in evidence including, more Barred Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats, Whitethroats, Blackcaps and a Garden Warbler.  Red-breasted, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers flitted about with Rollers, Turtle Doves, Bee-eaters and Night Herons passing above.  The surprise find of the morning was a male Siskin that was new for the trip.  Simeon recorded a Caspian Tern offshore heading north and a number of Black-throated Divers.

We proceeded to the Sveti-Nikola Steppe area near to Cape Kaliakra Reserve.  The plains produced a number of interesting species with Calandra Larks being the most numerous.  Greater Short-toed Larks were in shorter supply and although 6 Red-throated Pipit were a surprise the numerous Tawny Pipits weren't.  Eventually 3 Stone Curlews were recorded in the day and a Quail was heard.

We continued towards the cape stopping on a road with trees, scrub and bushes bordering it.  This area provided excellent cover and feeding opportunities for tired migrants and as a result an excellent birding opportunity for us.  In a small stretch of road, Redstarts, a male Red-backed Shrike, Thrush Nightingale, Wryneck, Pied Wheatears, male Collared Flycatcher and numerous Red-breasted Flycatchers were noted.  Then came the news, a singing Olive-tree Warbler had been located by Josele.  The group quickly convened and the search began.  The bird was incredibly skulking but audible and remained unseen.  A singing Icterine Warbler was more obliging.  By lunch the bird had still not been viewed satisfactorily.

After lunch we proceeded to the Cape noting at least 3 pairs of Pied Wheatears, many migrating flycatchers, a number of Alpine Swifts and the remarkable site of several hundred Yelkouan Shearwaters feeding above a pod of Harbour Porpoises.  At least 15 Shags of the Black Sea and Mediterranean form desmaresti sat on the rocks nearby.

We moved on to an Eagle Owl roost that proved unproductive but which did provide views of Savi's Warblers, Purple Herons and Red-rumped Swallows and an opportunity to return to the Olive-tree Warbler site for one last ditch attempt.

As the vehicle slowed the bird could once again be heard singing continuously from deep vegetation at the side of the road.  The group piled out and stood silently listening.  Eventually there was a little movement and with steerage the group found itself looking at a singing Olive-tree Warbler hidden and sitting completely still in deep bracken.  Satisfactory views were eventually gained by all, of this remarkably big yet difficult to see warbler – the end of a great day and good tour!

DAY 10 – 15 May

Despite much merriment and involvement in a local party by some members of the team (Jay's dancing was very memorable so I am informed), another early morning check outside the hotel produced further evidence of migration with Barred Warblers, Turtle Doves, Hoopoes and Rollers all being represented.  Simeon and Josele spotted another 2 Caspian Terns and John found 2 Grey Plovers.  Before our departure a single Greenshank on the rocks made for a lonely sight.  Prior to our flights home via Bourgas, Varna and eventually Budapest we had time for a little birding.  The only new bird added was a Redshank on some marshes near Varna and a solitary Spoonbill was also noteworthy.

Systematic Species List

Common Name

Scientific Name


Black-throated Diver

Gavia arctica

Seen in small groups around the Black Sea coast

Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

3 seen, at Sofia airport pool and Pomorie Lake

Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Common in the east at lakes and wetlands

Black-necked Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis

Several from Podo Visitor Centre and 2 from Cape Kaliakra

Yelkouan Shearwater

Puffinus yelkouan

A group of 38 from Krapets and several hundred from Cape Kaliakra

Pygmy Cormorant

Phalacrocorax pygmeus

At least 40 breeding at Vaya Lake and singles elsewhere

Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis

Numerous in the east at wetlands and the Black Sea

European Shag

Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmaresti

The Black Sea and Mediterranean form most easily seen from Cape Kaliakra

White Pelican

Pelecanus onocrotalus

Seen on Vaya lake and a large kettle of 300 migrating near Camchia

Dalmatian Pelican

Pelecanus crispus

Seen in small groups at Vaya Lake

Little Egret

Egretta garzetta

Common at wetlands in the east

Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea

Common and widespread

Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea

1s & 2s seen at wetlands

Great White Egret

Egretta alba

1s & 2s seen in suitable habitat

Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis

1 seen at Shabla Lake and a disputed group of 8 seen from the vehicle

Squacco Heron

Ardeola ralloides

Small numbers at wetlands

Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax

5 at Vaya Lake, 3 at Krapets and 1 at Shabla Lake

Little Bittern

Ixobrychus minutus

Surprisingly easy to see at various wetlands

Black Stork

Ciconia nigra

1s & 2'sseen throughout

White Stork

Ciconia ciconia

Common & widespread

Glossy Ibis

Plegadis falcinellus

1s & 2s at wetlands

Eurasian Spoonbill

Platalea leucorodia

2 at Poda and 1 near Varna

Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

Numerous on lakes

Ruddy Shelduck

Tadorna ferruginea

1 at Atamasovsko Lake Reserve and 1 at Duramkulak Lake

Common Shelduck

Tadorna tadorna

Common at wetlands and lakes

Eurasian Wigeon

Anas penelope

6 at Shabla Lake


Anas strepera

Pairs seen at wetlands

Eurasian Teal

Anas crecca

At least 2 seen at Shabla Lake


Anas platyrhynchos

Common at wetlands

Northern Pintail

Anas acuta

1 male seen at Shabla Lake


Anas querquedula

Several at all wetlands in the east

Northern Shoveler

Anas clypeata

Not numerous but seen at several wetlands

Common Pochard

Aythya farina

Common at Vaya Lake

Ferruginous Duck

Aythya nyroca

Common at wetlands in the east

Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula

1 drake seen at Shabla Lake

Honey Buzzard

Pernis apivorus

Common and seen almost daily throughout

Black Kite

Milvus migrans

Only 2 seen, 1near Mramor and one en route to Bourgas

White-tailed Eagle

Haliaeetus albicillia

A pair seen at Mandra Lake

Short-toed Eagle

Circaetus gallicus

1s & 2s seen in hilly wooded country

W Marsh Harrier

Circus aeruginosus

Many seen throughout

Hen Harrier

Circus cyaneus

1 seen at Beklemedo NP and 1 over fields in the east

Montagu's Harrier

Circus pygargus

1 male seen at Duramkulak Lake and two ringtails noted over fields in the east of the country

Levant Sparrowhawk

Accipiter brevipes

A pair at Mariza Svilengrad and 1 over Vaya Lake

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

1s in widespread wooded locations


Accipiter gentiles

1 confirmed over woods in the Strandja Mountains

Common Buzzard

Buteo buteo

Seen throughout

Long-legged Buzzard

Buteo rufinus

Singles seen throughout

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Aquila pomorina

At least 5 over Mramor Plains and 2 over the road nearby

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Aquila heliaca

A pair at Mramor Plains

Golden Eagle

Aquila chrysaetos

1 adult over the hills at Beklemedo NP

Booted Eagle

Hieraaetus pennatus

A dark and light phase in the Rozino area

Eurasian Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Widespread – singly or in pairs

Red-footed Falcon

Falco vespertinus

A few migrating in the east and a pair at Topolovgrad

Eurasian Hobby

Falco subbuteo

Singles in widespread locations

Grey Partridge

Alectoris rufa

1 seen in fields at Mariza Svilengrad


Coturnix coturnix

Widespread and heard only

Water Rail

Rallus aquaticus

1 heard at Vaya Lake


Crex Crex

3 heard in a wet valley near the Strandja Mountains

Common Moorhen

Gallinula chloropus

Not numerous but seen in suitable habitat

Eurasian Coot

Fulica atra

Fairly common at wetlands


Haematopus ostralegus

1 at Krapets on the coast

Black-winged Stilt

Himantopus himantopus

Numerous at wetlands


Recurvirostra avosetta

Common at lakes

Stone Curlew

Burhinus oedicnemus

3 at Sveti-Nikola Steppe

Grey Plover

Pluviailis squatarola

2 seen on the last day at Krapets

Collared Pratincole

Glareola pratincola

1 at Duramkula Lake and 1 over Krapets

Little Ringed Plover

Charadrius dubius

1 at Shabla Lake and 2 at the coast at Shablenska Tuzla

Kentish Plover

Charadrius alexandrinus

Small groups seen at Pomorie Lake salt pans and Atamasovsko Lake Reserve

Northern Lapwing

Vanellus vanellus

1s and 2s in agricultural fields in the east

Common Snipe

Gallinago gallinago

1 was seen at Shabla Lake

Spotted Redshank

Tringa erythropus

At least 7 seen at Atamasovsko Lake Reserve

Common Redshank

Tringa totanus

1 was seen on marshes near Varna on the last day

Common Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

2 Pomorie Lake and 1 at Krapets

Wood Sandpiper

Tringa glareola

1s & 2s at wetlands

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos hypoleucos

1 at Atamasovsok Lake Reserve with the above


Arenaria interpres

1 at Atamasovsok Lake Reserve


Calidris alba

At least 8 at the coast at Shablenska Tuzla

Little Stint

Calidris minuta

The most common wader at wetlands


Calidris alpina

1 seen at Atamasovsok Lake Reserve

Curlew Sandpiper

Calidris ferruginea

Common at wetlands and the coast in the east


Philomachus pugnax

Groups seen at most wetlands

Yellow-legged Gull

Larus michahellis

Common at the coast and wetlands

Baltic Gull

Larus fuscus fuscus

1 adult seen at Duramkula Lake

Black-headed Gull

Larus ridibundus

Common and widespread

Slender-billed Gull

Larus genei

Several at Pomorie Lake Salt Pans

Mediterranean Gull

Larus melanocephalus

4 at Pomorie

Little Gull

Larus minutus

Small groups seen at Vaya Lake, Pomorie Lake and Shabla Lake

Gull-billed Tern

Sterna nilotica

2 at Atamasovsok Lake Reseve and several at Duramkula Lake

Sandwich Tern

Sterna sandvicensis

Fairly common on the lakes and a large colony at Pomorie Lake Salt Pans

Common Tern

Sterna hirundo

Common in small parties at the coast and a large breeding colony at Podo visitor centre

Little Tern

Sterna albifrons

1 at Vaya Lake and 3 at Pomorie Lake salt pans

Whiskered Tern

Chlidonias hybridus

Widespread at all wetlands in the east

White-winged Tern

Chlidonias leucopterus

As above

Black Tern

Chlidonias niger

The most common as above

Rock Dove

Columba livia

A good candidate was seen on the cliffs at Cape Kaliakra


Columba palumbus

1s & 2s in wooded habitat

Turtle Dove

Streptopelia turtur

Common in small groups and singles throughout

Collared Dove

Streptopelia decaocto

Common in villages


Cuculus canorus

Heard and seen everywhere

Scops Owl

Otus scops

1 seen well at Bourgas outside the hotel

Little Owl

Athene noctua

At least 3 seen on buildings and widespread

Alpine Swift

Tachymarptis melba

Only seen near Cape Kaliakra

Common Swift

Apus apus

Seen throughout

Pallid Swift

Apus pallidus

A colony at Topolovgrad with others seen sporadically throughout

Common Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis

2 seen, 1 at Mariza Svilengrad and 1 at Duramkula Lake

European Bee-eater

Merops apiaster

Common seen and heard throughout

European Roller

Coracias garrulus

Seen in 1s & 2s in the east and a large group of seven at Krapets

Eurasian Hoopoe

Upupa epops

Singletons throughout


Jynx torquilla

1 seen on a track at the Sveti-Nikola Steppes

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos minor

1 female seen in the woods at Baltata

Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos medius

A pair at a nest hole at Srededs and one at Baltata

White-backed Woodpecker

Dendrocopos leucotos

1 male in beech woods at the Beklemedo NP

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos major

1s seen and heard in woodlands

Syrian Woodpecker

Dendrocopos syriacus

1s seen in widespread locations

Black Woodpecker

Dryocopus martius

Several heard drumming in the Strandja Mountains

Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

Heard on several occasions and 1 seen at Meriza Svilengrad

Calandra Lark

Melanocorypha calandra

Seen in many locations but large numbers on the Sveti-Nikola Steppe.

Short-toed Lark

Calandrella brachydactyla

Only on the Sveti-Nikola Steppe

Crested Lark

Galerida cristata randonii

Small numbers throughout in suitable habitat


Lullula arborea

1 at Sveti-Nikola Steppe and 5 in woods near Shtit


Alauda arvensis harterti

Common & widespread

Sand Martin

Riparia riparia

Widespread and numerous

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

As above

Red-rumped Swallow

Hirundo daurica rufula

Small numbers throughout

House Martin

Delichon urbica

As above

Tawny Pipit

Anthus campestris

Singles seen throughout but 5 at Sveti-Nikola Steppe

Tree Pipit

Anthus trivialis

Singles seen in suitable habitat

Red-throated Pipit

Anthus cervinus

6 seen at Sveti-Nikola Steppe area

Water Pipit

Anthus spinoletta

Several seen in the mountains at Beklemedo NP

White Wagtail

Motacilla alba

Seen throughout

Citrine Wagtail

Motacilla citreola

Several only seen at Duramkula Lake

Black-headed Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla flava felldegg

Several in wetland habitats

Blue-headed Wagtail

Motacilla flava flava

1s seen at Duramkula Lake and Cape Kaliakra

Yellow Wagtail

Motacilla flava thunbergi

1 seen at Krapets on the last day

Grey Wagtail

Motacilla cinerea

1 or 2 seen at Koprivshtitsa


Cinclus cinclus

A family group seen at Koprivshtitsa


Troglodytes troglodytes

1s seen throughout


Prunella modularis

Several seen in the hills at Beklemedo NP


Erithacus rubecula

Singletons in widespread locations

Thrush Nightingale

Luscinia luscinia

1 showed well on a track near the Sveti-Nikola Steppe and 1 at Krapets on the penultimate morning


Luscinia megarhynchos

Heard and seen throughout

Black Redstart

Phoenicurus ochruros gibralteriensis

Seen in the mountains in the Beklemedo NP


Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Several males seen in woods at Beklemedo NP and Srededs


Saxixola rubetra

Seen throughout

Common Stonechat

Saxicola torquata

Seen throughout in small numbers

Northern Wheatear

Oenanthe oenanthe

1s and 2s seen throughout

Pied Wheatear

Oenanthe pleschanka

Only seen in the east of the country breeding at Cape Kaliakra

Black-eared Wheatear

Oenanthe melanouca

1 male seen at Yerusalimovo valley was a good record

Isabelline Wheatear

Oenanthe isabellina

Widespread and seen throughout

Ring Ouzel

Turdus torquatus

1 singing male of the race alpestris was seen at the Beklemedo NP

Eurasian Blackbird

Turdus merula mauretanica


Song Thrush

Turdus philomelos

1s seen in wooded areas

Mistle Thrush

Turdus viscivorus

1s seen in suitable habitat

Cetti’s Warbler

Cettia cetti

Heard and seen in suitable habitat

Savi's Warbler

Locustella luscinioides

Seen well in reed beds in the east particularly at Duramkulak Lake and Shabla Lake

Sedge Warbler

Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

1 at the garage near Atamasovsko Lake Reserve

Paddyfield Warbler

Acrocephalus agricola

At least 5 at Duramkulak Lake

Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Seen and heard throughout in suitable habitat

Great Reed Warbler

Acrocephalus arundinaceus

As above but more numerous and noticeable

E Olivaceous Warbler

Hippolais pallida

1s seen singing at various locations

Olive-tree Warbler

Hippolais olivetorum

1 singing male was seen on the penultimate day in dense scrub on a road in the Sveti-Nikola Steppe

Icterine Warbler

Hippolais icterina

At least 2 in the same location as the above


Sylvia atricapilla

The most common Sylvia – seen everywhere

Garden Warbler

Sylvia borin

2 at Shabla Lake and 1s at Sveti-Nikola Steppe and Krapets

Common Whitethroat

Sylvia communis

Common throughout

Lesser Whitethroat

Sylvia curruca

1 at Mariza Svilengrad and singles at Krapets

Barred Warbler

Sylvia nisoria

Several superb singing males in the Krapets area

E Orphean Warbler

Sylvia hortensis

1s seen in the Saker Hills area

Willow Warbler

Phylloscopus trochilus

2 or 3 seen in the east near to the coast

Common Chiffchaff

Phylloscopus collybita

Heard and seen widely

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Phylloscopus orientallis

1s heard in woodlands in the Saker area

Wood Warbler

Phylloscopus sibilatrix

1 seen in woods in the Mramor area


Regulus regulus

In the mountains near Sofia and 1 in conifers at Koprivshtitsa


Rugulus ignicapillus

Seen in the mountains near Sofia on the first day.

Spotted Flycatcher

Muscicapa striata

Common throughout

Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula hypoleuca

1s & 2s in suitable habitat

Collared Flycatcher

Ficedula albicollis

Migrants at the Black Sea towards the end of the tour

Semi-collared Flycatcher

Ficedula semitorquata

Singing males on breeding grounds in woods around Srededs, Strandja Mountain and the Camchia Riverine Forest

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Ficedula parva

Male and female migrants along the Black Sea coast at Krapets towards the end of the tour.

Long-tailed Tit

Aegithalos caudatus

2 seen in woods at Baltata

Sombre Tit

Parus lugubris

1 male in a wooded valley at Yerusalimovo

Willow Tit

Parus montanus

In conifers outside the hotel at Koprivshtitsa

Coal Tit

Parus ater

As above

Great Tit

Parus major excelsus

Seen in wooded areas

Blue Tit

Parus caeruleus

As above


Sitta europaea

Pairs seen in woodlands

Eurasian Treecreeper

Certhia familiaris

1 seen in woodland in the west

Short-toed Treecreeper

Certhia brachydactyla mauretanica

Seen in the woodlands in the east at Strandja Mountain

Penduline Tit

Remiz pendulinus

Singles seen at Mariza Svilengrad and Atamasovsko Lake Reserve

Golden Oriole

Oriolus oriolus

Widespread in small numbers

Red-backed Shrike

Lanius collurio

Birds began to appear in the east at the Black Sea towards the end of the tour

Lesser Grey Shrike

Lanius minor

Never numerous but encountered in singles in the east

Woodchat Shrike

Lanius senator

The most common shrike throughout in good numbers in suitable habitat

Masked Shrike

Lanius nubicus

A pair in woodland near Shtit


Garrulus glandarius

Widespread although not numerous


Pica pica


Spotted Nutcracker

Nucifraga caryocatactes

Seen early in the tour by some participants in the mountains around Sofia


Corvus monedula

Widespread in varying numbers



1 seen near to Sofia airport with larger numbers throughout

Hooded Crow

Corvus cornix

Widespread in small numbers

Common Raven

Corvus corax tingitanus

1s seen in widespread locations


Sturnus vulgaris

Common throughout

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus tingitanus


Spanish Sparrow

Passer hispaniolensis

Common throughout increasing in numbers towards the east

Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

Relatively common in small numbers anywhere


Fringilla coelebs

Common in woodlands

European Serin

Serinus serinus

Several seen around  the hotel in conifers at Koprivshtitsa

European Greenfinch

Carduelis chloris

Small groups seen throughout


Carduelis spinus

1 male at Krapets

European Goldfinch

Carduelis carduelis

Small groups seen throughout

Eurasian Linnet

Carduelis cannabina

A few seen in suitable habitat


Coccothraustes coccothraustes

In the mountains near Sofia and pairs in various woodlands throughout


Emberiza citronella

1 heard on the first day at a stop en route to Koprivshtitsa

Cirl Bunting

Emberiza cirlus

At least 2 heard at Yerusalimovo

Ortolan Bunting

Emberiza hortulana

Small numbers in wooded areas throughout

Black-headed Bunting

Emberiza melanocephala

1s and 2s throughout

Reed Bunting

Emberiza schoeniclus 2 seen at Duramkulak Lake

Corn Bunting

Emberiza calandra

The most common bird and widespread throughout


This was a great week, excellent birding, good company and finally lovely weather.  A total of 218 species seen and heard by the group was a good count with more being possible if some easy birds had been picked up.  The bird of the trip was voted as the Eastern Imperial Eagle, hunting, catching and feeding as we watched for an hour.  Bulgaria is well worth a visit and could be done on a budget if necessary.  The infrastructure is good and getting around relatively easy with the use of a map.  Sites and locations are well signposted and navigation is fairly straightforward.  Many thanks are due to all those who participated and for ensuring the week was productive and very enjoyable.


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