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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Bulgaria - The Black Sea Coast, 12th to 26th September 2011,
At times, this seemed like a trip that was destined never to happen. Firstly our flight from Durham Tees Valley was cancelled and we were transferred to an alternative departure from Newcastle, necessitating rearranging the car hire – a relatively minor inconvenience. More worryingly, three members of our group were struck down by a debilitating stomach bug in the days leading up to departure, managing to recover just in time though, ironically, the fourth then had to cancel at the last minute for different reasons. The day of departure then saw the north of England rocked by severe storms, the tail end of Hurricane Katia, and travelling conditions were horrendous. It was, therefore, something of a relief to finally get off the ground at Newcastle, albeit one and a half hours late with the plane buffeted from side to side on the tarmac before take-off.
For two of us, this was the third autumn trip to the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria and was essentially a repeat of previous visits but with the dates falling midway between the two. Most of the sites visited were the same as in the past though, thanks to additional information largely provided by Pavel Simeonov at Branta Birding Lodge, we were able to add to our itinerary. There were a number of differences in the birds found; in general, there were fewer species and fewer individuals than on previous trips though this was surely the result of weather conditions rather than timing. Both waders and passerines were less numerous and less varied this time and raptor migration was slow to get underway with no evidence of any real passage until the last few days. Once it did get going however, it produced some spectacular sights: one of the highlights being the appearance of over 250 Lesser Spotted Eagles in a 30 minute period. Passerine migration was again dominated by Red-backed Shrikes, Spotted and Red-breasted Flycatchers but this year’s highlight was the finding of a River Warbler that sadly revealed itself to just one member of the team. Some species such as Wryneck and Lesser Grey Shrike were conspicuous by their absence. Weather conditions clearly play a large part in what you’re going to see, regardless of the date, and on this trip hot sunny conditions with clear blue skies favoured migrating birds not those wishing to see them.
We were again largely reliant on Gosney’s Finding Birds in Bulgaria and a handful of trip reports found on the internet, though, of course, we also had the benefit of our experience from previous trips and the extra information kindly provided by Pavel at Branta.
As our copy of the Reise 1:130000 map of the Bulgaria Black Sea Coast that we’d used in the past resided back in England with our absent friend, we used a non-too-detailed road map of Bulgaria provided by Europcar.
Apart from a brief though heavy spell of rain one breakfast time and a couple of cloudy mornings, we ‘enjoyed’ virtually unbroken sunshine and clear blue skies, with predominantly easterly to northeasterly winds – I say “enjoyed” as it was great holiday weather but was hardly favourable for producing falls of migrants. It was, at times. a touch too hot for birding during the first week when maximum daytime temperatures reached 33C. Birding light was from about 06.30 to 20.00.
We flew from Newcastle to Burgas with Balkan Holidays www.balkanholidays.co.uk (booked over the internet, £270 per person and problem-free apart from a 90 minute delay on the outward journey due to the high winds). At Burgas airport, we picked up a hired Kia Ceed station wagon from Europcar booked through Economy Car Rentals www.EconomyCarRentals.com at a cost of about £350; very smooth and efficient. Despite the flight delay and our arrival in the early hours of the morning, there was no problem with the pick-up from Europcar whose rep was at the desk when we arrived, spoke good English and was extremely helpful and efficient.
Unusually for us, we booked all our accommodation in advance. Whilst this removed the element of flexibility that we usually enjoy, it did do away with the hassle of finding hotels and left us free to maximise our birding time. We stayed at the following:-
St George Hotel, Pomorie http://www.balkanholidays.co.uk/bulgaria/bourgas_area/pomorie/hotel_st_george_!PO302.html
We booked our first four and last four nights here in advance through Balkan Holidays. It proved much easier to find when we arrived in the dark after midnight than had the Inter Hotel where we stayed on our last trip. At a fraction over £9 per person per night (considerably cheaper than if booked independently), including breakfast, it was extremely good value even by Bulgarian standards. The rooms were clean, spacious and comfortable and the buffet style breakfast was good (though there’s no chance of getting anything before 8am, you need sharp elbows in the early rush and it is not permitted to remove food from the restaurant so if you fancy a couple of buns for lunch, don’t let the staff see you – not that we would advocate any such thing of course!). The restaurant was very good and we ate there each evening. A big improvement on the Inter Hotel.
Pallid Swifts were often present in the early mornings and late evenings, while the coastal location ensured regular sightings of Mediterranean Gulls and occasional Black-necked Grebe.
St. George Hotel, Ronnie Irving View from Branta Birding Lodge, Dave Thexton
Branta Birding Lodge at Durankulak http://birdinglodge.com/ (43°40’23.95”N 28°31’37.43”E)
We spent six nights here at a cost of around 30 euros per person for bed, breakfast, packed lunch and evening meal. Very good value. In a superb location overlooking Lake Durankulak, with comfortable rooms, flexible meal times and warm, friendly and very hospitable hosts, this makes an excellent base for birding this part of Bulgaria. Pavel’s expert local knowledge is an added bonus whilst his impromptu musical performances certainly make the experience more memorable and his Grey-headed Woodpecker impression was something to behold!
With a ‘garden list’ of 220 species, the lodge is clearly in a very good birding location and species we saw pre-breakfast and whilst relaxing in the evenings included Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Levant Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Quail, Whiskered and White-winged Black Tern, Syrian Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Red-throated Pipit and Red-backed Shrike.
Mostly the same as in past years so site details and directions can be found either in Gosney or in our 2008 trip report at http://www.birdtours.co.uk/tripreports/bulgaria/bulgaria-15/Bulgaria-08.htm though thanks to the information provided by Pavel at Branta Birding Lodge we were able to visit extra areas at Durankulak, Mandra and Atanasovsko as well as a completely new site (for us) at Poroy reservoir. In addition, a tip off in a trip report led us to a superb bit of habitat at Mandra. Whilst most sites are well known, co-ordinates have been given as an additional aid.
The reserve has its own website at http://www.bspb-poda.de/sites/english/home/home.htm New crash barriers mean that the site can now only be accessed from the northbound carriageway, which is just as well. There’s an admission fee of three levs. Species seen here on our two visits included Pygmy Cormorant, White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Goshawk, Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Hoopoe and Penduline Tit.
View over Poda reserve, Ian Kinley Mandra Lake (east side), Ronnie Irving
Leave the E87 at the Marinka junction (the first junction south of Poda) and turn right. After just a few hundred metres you’ll see an obvious, high concrete wall on the right, as soon as this ends turn sharp right onto a track leading towards the lake. Park near a pig farm (well, more a shed with a couple of pigs really) to view (42°26’00.13”N 27°28’37.78”E). We were advised by Pavel that this was a good area for waders and whilst we saw no waders, we did see four White-tailed Eagles as well as Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Honey Buzzard, Ferruginous Duck and Little Gull. The light’s best early morning.
Continuing east, a right turn at Tvardissa eventually takes you across the lake on a causeway. Our one brief visit was not especially productive but it may be a worthwhile diversion.
There are several lay-bys giving views of the lake between Tvardissa and Dimcevo that are worth a stop producing the likes of Pygmy Cormorant and Ferruginous Duck but the best site we visited in this area was east of Dimcevo where the River Izvorka enters the lake. Heading towards Dimcevo, park on the left immediately after crossing two road bridges. Follow the track up the west side of the river for several hundred metres until you reach a wide, shallow pool providing superb habitat for herons, crakes and waders. Birds seen here on two visits included Pygmy Cormorant, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Osprey, Ferruginous Duck, Little Crake, Temminck’s Stint and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker as well as a good selection of commoner waders (42°23’53.20”N 27°26’02.05”E).
Continuing east, a right turn at Prisad eventually leads back to the main road on the north side of the lake but it’s a rough track through unproductive woodland for much of the way with no views of the lake and few birds to be seen; having done it once, we were in no rush to repeat the experience.
Red-backed Shrike, Pomorie saltpans, Dave Thexton Little Gulls, Pomorie saltpans, Dave Thexton
A new visitor centre has been built next to the salt museum since we were last here, demonstrating an encouraging degree of interest and commitment to the wildlife of this site; it includes a rather comfortable and sheltered viewing area. Species here included Black-necked Grebe, Pygmy Cormorant, Osprey, Marsh Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Little Gull and Penduline Tit. The pans alongside the E87 north of Pomorie, whilst less accessible and generally much less productive, did host a decent group of Whiskered Terns on our only visit.
Pygmy Cormorant, Pomorie Saltpans, Ian Kinley Slender-billed Gulls, Pomorie Saltpans, Ian Kinley
Burgas Lake, Ian Kinley
Looking north from our raptor watchpoint at Atanasovsko with Mediterranean Gulls flying through, Ronnie Irving
We failed to find any more access points for viewing the lake than in previous years. Species at this site included White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Garganey, Osprey, Short-toed Eagle, Roller and Red-throated Pipit.
Atanasovsko Lake (42°31’52.54”N 27°28’13.41”E) & (42°34’55.16”N 27°30’14.79”E)
Common Kestrel, Atanasovsko, Dave Thexton Common Buzzard, Atanasovsko, Dave Thexton
Again, we found access to the lake itself difficult though, thanks to Pavel, we did visit one fresh area: at the large roundabout on the north side of Burgas, head for Pomorie but just before the exit and close to the filling station you’ll see a turn-off to the right with a sign bearing a Black-winged Stilt. This takes you to a small car-park from which a short track leads to a hide overlooking the lake (42°31’52.54”N 27°28’13.41”E). The hide was locked when we visited though you can view just as well from outside it. Whilst we saw nothing of great note, it’s worth a look if you’re passing; late afternoon onwards is recommended due to the light conditions. As on our last trip, we also managed to view some good wader habitat by stopping on the slip road to the southbound E87 dual carriageway. Possibly illegal but no-one seemed to mind. As in past years, our raptor watching was mostly done from an area almost due west of Burgas Airport from a driveable track heading west immediately after the beginning of the road leading to Cerno More. Species around the lake and our raptor watching site just inland included White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Egret, Spoonbill, Black Stork, White Stork, Honey Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Levant Sparrowhawk, Golden Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Marsh Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Little Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Red-throated Pipit, Syrian Woodpecker and Serin.
Black Kite, Atanasovsko, Dave Thexton Lesser Spotted Eagle, Atanasovsko, Ronnie Irving
Although we’d visited this site several times on previous trips, Pavel’s local knowledge enabled us to access a fresh part of the lake. Take the minor road north from Krapec just before reaching the shore (signed Villa Artea), this becomes a track alongside the shore, then bear left inland when it becomes too tricky for a normal vehicle. This leads you to the southeast corner of the lake (43°39’43.15”N 28°33’54.54”E), including an excellent marshy area that’s particularly good for herons. Alternatively, if, like us, you jib at the state of the track before you reach the turn inland, you can access the same point by turning off the E87 just south of Vaklino and following tracks towards the coast until you reach the lake (it’s difficult to be more specific as we just followed our instincts). Species recorded around the lake included Pygmy Cormorant, White Pelican, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Osprey, Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Quail, Ferruginous Duck, Caspian Gull, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Hoopoe, Red-throated Pipit and Syrian Woodpecker.
Cape Kaliakra, Dave Thexton Redstart, Cape Kaliakra, Ian Kinley
You can still avoid the charge of three Levs per person to access the last few hundred metres to the car-park on the headland by arriving early with the added benefit of missing the worst of the tourist hordes. As with all migration hotspots, weather conditions play an important part in what you’re likely to see at this site but there’s always something of interest. Species here included Shag, Long-legged Buzzard, Pallid Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Short-toed Eagle, Hobby, Red-footed Falcon, Peregrine, Little Gull, Eagle Owl, Red-rumped Swallow, Red-throated Pipit, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wheatear, Icterine Warbler, River Warbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Black Redstart.
Pied Wheatear, Cape Kaliakra, Ian Kinley Pallid Harrier, Bolata Gorge, Ronnie Irving
Perhaps best included as part of this site was an area of steppe like habitat just outside the village of Balgarevo (43°24’30.94”N 28°23’42.64”E), Access is easy as the area is criss-crossed by a network of driveable tracks. Our one late afternoon/early evening visit produced large numbers of Calandra Larks as well as Tawny Pipits, Isabelline Wheatear and a fly-over flock of Spoonbills.
Balgarevo steppes, Ian Kinley Isabelline Wheatear, Balgarevo, Dave Thexton
Yaylata (43°26’27.67”N 28°32’47.02”E)
This is an archaeological site on a coastal headland south of Sabla and is best known as a location for Pied Wheatear. Our one visit produced a single Pied Wheatear plus Montagu’s Harrier, Hoopoe and Isabelline Wheatear nearby.
We found no better access to the main lake at Sabla than in the past; moreover the water level in the one accessible bay was much higher than in the past making it far less attractive. The approach to the site did produce some good birds though. Species seen included Purple Heron, Levant Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Roller, Red-throated Pipit and Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Sablenska Tuzla (43°33’34.25”N 28°35’26.76”E)
Sablenska Tuzla (including Marsh Harrier with prey), Dave Thexton Hoppoe, Sablenska Tuzla, Dave Thexton
The water level was high enough to produce good numbers of waders at reasonable range. Since we were last here, a viewing platform, a viewing screen and several nesting platforms have been erected; whilst none is particularly useful, it’s nice to see such good intentions. Species included Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Osprey, Peregrine, Temminck’s Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Slender-billed Gull, Little Gull, Caspian Tern, Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, Syrian Woodpecker, Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Poroy Reservoir (Accessed from 42°42’27.91”N 27°35’55.86”E)
Another new site for us, again courtesy of information from Pavel. Not the easiest place to find, despite being on the map, it took us a while to locate the turn-off leading to the reservoir, largely because the first 50m is just a track and then the tarmac begins. It’s unsigned but leads north from the road east of Aleksandrovo and takes you to the shore of the reservoir. Though we failed to find the Ruddy Shelduck said to be resident we did see Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red Footed Falcon and Red-breasted Flycatcher.
We also spent a fairly short time on our way back south to Pomorie from Durankulak at a site recommended by Pavel for Sombre Tit and raptor passage. This was alongside the E87 just north of Svetlas where there is a parking area on the east side of the road near two obvious tall radio masts. Sombre Tit eluded us but we did see Short-toed Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle low overhead plus Red-breasted Flycatcher.
In addition, we made several stops in woodland between Pomorie and Varna on the day that we travelled north between our two bases, basically just pulling off the main road onto side tracks wherever the habitat looked decent. This produced Short-toed Treecreeper, Hawfinch and a selection of common (common in Britain anyway) woodland birds that were new for the trip.
12th September Travelled from Manchester to Burgas, arriving after dark. Overnight at Pomorie.
13th September Birding at Pomorie Saltpans and Atanasovsko Lake. Overnight at Pomorie.
14th September Birding at Poda, Mandra Lake and Burgas Lake. Overnight at Pomorie.
15th September Birding at Pomorie Saltpans and Atanasovsko Lake. Overnight at Pomorie.
16th September Travelled from Pomorie to Durankulak. Birding at several sites en route and at Sablenska Tuzla. Overnight at Branta.
17th September Birding at Lake Durankulak, Sabla Lake, Sablenska Tuzla and Yaylata. Overnight at Branta.
18th September Birding at Cape Kaliakra, Balgarevo and Lake Durankulak. Overnight at Branta.
19th September Birding at Sabla Lake, Sablenska Tuzla and Lake Durankulak. Overnight at Branta.
20th September Birding at Cape Kaliakra and Balgarevo. Overnight at Branta.
21st September Birding at Lake Durankulak, Sabla Lake and Sablenska Tuzla. Overnight at Branta.
22nd September Travelled from Durankulak to Pomorie. Birding at several sites en route including Poroy Reservoir and at Pomorie Saltpans. Overnight at Pomorie.
23rd September Birding at Atanasovsko Lake. Burgas Lake and Pomorie Saltpans. Overnight at Pomorie.
24th September Birding at Atanasovsko Lake and Mandra Lake. Overnight at Pomorie.
25th September Birding at Atanasovsko Lake, Mandra Lake, Poda, and Pomorie Saltpans. Overnight at Pomorie.
26th September Birding at Atanasovsko Lake before flying back from Burgas to Newcastle.
We recorded a total of 173 species (excluding Corncrake). 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 (disregarding the first day when no birding was done and bearing in mind the limited amount of time spent in the field on the last day) 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 (8/14)
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus (7/14)
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis (7/14) Most numerous at Pomorie Saltpans with smaller numbers at several other wetland sites and on the Black Sea.
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (14/14)
Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmeus (11/14) More numerous and widespread than on past trips with, for example, birds ever present on Pomorie Saltpans where we’d not seen the species before. Counts included 100+ at Poda, 40+ at Lake Durankulak, 23 at Pomorie Saltpans and 10 on the River Izvorka on 24th.
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis demaresnii (3/14) Up to 130 at Cape Kaliakra and smaller numbers at Yaylata.
White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus (7/14) Large numbers on Burgas Lake and Atanasovsko plus large migrating flocks near Atanasovsko. Counts included c.500 at Lake Atanasovsko on 13th; c.300 at Burgas Lake on 14th; c.600 at Lake Atanasovsko on 15th; c.200 at Burgas Lake on 23rd; c.500 at Atanasovsko on 25th; c.720 at Atanasovsko on 26th. A single at Durankulak was the only one we saw in the north.
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus (7/14) Small numbers seen at Burgas Lake, Poda, Mandra and Atanasovsko.
Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax (2/14) From Branta Birding Lodge birds could be seen and heard leaving the roost at dusk with 15 on 16th and 11 on 17th.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides (2/14) One at Mandra on 14th and two at Durankulak on 21st.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta (10/14) Widespread, mostly in small numbers.
Great White Egret Ardea alba (6/14) Single figures recorded at Poda, Mandra and Atanasovsko Lake but, more notably, at least 46 in the southeast corner of Durankulak on 21st.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea (12/14)
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (6/14) A flock of 14 in flight at Sabla Lake on 19th; otherwise, maximum count of six at Durankulak with low single figures also recorded at Poda, Mandra, Burgas Lake and Sabla Lake where we regularly encountered several juveniles among dry vegetation as we made our way to the lake.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra (5/14) All our sightings involved birds in flight near Atanasovsko Lake as follows: three on 13th, 18 on 23rd, 112 on 24th, 27 on 25th and one on 26th.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia (4/14) Rather small numbers seen including a migrating flock of 80 near Atanasovsko Lake on 13th.
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia (6/14) Most noteworthy records were up to 30 or more at Atanasovsko Lake and a flock of 18 flying over Balgarevo on 20th.
Mute Swan Cygnus olor (4/14)
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna (6/14) Records included 10 at Sablensko Tuzla on 21st.
Wigeon Anas Penelope (4/14)
Gadwall Anas strepera (1/14)
Teal Anas crecca (11/14)
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (8/14)
Pintail Anas acuta (3/14)
Garganey Anas querquedula (1/14) Single figures at Burgas Lake and Poda.
Shoveler Anas clypeata (4/14)
Pochard Aythea farina (5/14) Most notably c.1000 on Burgas Lake on 14th.
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (4/14) Single figures at Durankulak and up to 11 on Lake Mandra (pig farm site) on 24th
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula (1/14)
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus (7/14) One near Atanasovsko Lake on 13th, two at Durankulak on 17th, one over the E87 near Sabla and one over Poroy Dam on 22nd, five near Atanasovsko Lake on 24th, three near Atanasovsko Lake and one at Mandra on 25th.
Black Kite Milvus migrans (2/14) Singles near Atanasovsko Lake on 15th and 24th.
White-tailed Eagle Haliaetus albicilla (2/14) Prolonged views, both perched and in flight, of four, two adults and two juvs, at Mandra Lake (pig farm site) on 24th followed by a perched adult at the same site on 25th.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus (6/14) Singles at Kaliakra on 18th, Durankulak on 19th, by the E87 at the “radio mast site” on 22nd and Burgas Lake on 24th while near Atanasovsko Lake there were three on 23rd, 20 on 24th, four on 25th and one on 26th.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus (14/14) Widespread and common.
Pallid Harrier Circus (2/14) A juvenile at the Bolata Gorge, Kaliakra on 18th and 20th.
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus (1/14) A ringtail near Yaylata on 17th.
Goshawk Accipiter gentiles (1/14) One at Poda on 14th.
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (11/14)
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes (7/14) Seen in small numbers at Atanasovsko, Kaliakra, Durankulak and Sabla.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo (12/14) Both resident and passage birds seen, the latter included a good percentage of Steppe Buzzards.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus (7/14) Two or three seemed to be resident near Atanasovsko Lake with at least one seen on every visit. Elsewhere, singles were seen at Sabla and Kaliakra.
Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina (6/14) Two by the E87 at the “radio mast site” and three at Poroy Reservoir on 22nd. Otherwise all our sightings involved birds near Atanasovsko Lake with one on 15th, 40 on 23rd, 100+ on 24th, 96 on 25th and 257 on 26th.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos (1/14) A juvenile near Atanasovsko Lake on 23rd.
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus (3/14) Near Atanasovsko Lake we recorded two pale-phase birds on 23rd, a dark-phase on 24th and a pale-phase on 25th.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus (8/14) Frequent sightings at a number of sites.
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (13/14)
Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus (6/14) On roadside wires north of Sabla there was a juvenile on 18th followed by a male and a female on 20th; one was at Poroy Reservoir on 22nd then near Atanasovsko Lake we recorded 26 on 24th, 14 on 25th and two on 26th.
Hobby Falco subbuteo (7/14) Widespread with frequent sightings, particularly near Atanasovsko and Sabla Lake where a family party showed particularly well on occasions.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus (2/14) Seen at Cape Kaliakra and Sablenska Tuzla.
Quail Coturnix coturnix (2/14) One heard calling outside Branta Birding Lodge on 17th and one accidentally flushed at Balgarevo on 20th.
Pheasant Phasianus colchacus (1/14) One heard calling at dawn on 17th near Brant Lodge, Durankulak.
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus (8/14) Heard at several wetland sites.
Little Crake Porzana parva (1/14) Two at Mandra (Izvorka river site) on 14th.
Corncrake Crex crex One found dead at Cape Kaliakra on 18th.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus (6/14)
Coot Fulica atra (6/14)
Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus (3/14) Just a handful seen.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (4/14) Small numbers.
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta (9/14) Largest numbers were to be found at Atanasovsko Lake.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (5/14) Present in small numbers at several sites.
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula (10/14)
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (8/14) Present in small numbers at several sites.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (7/14)
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus (7/14)
Knot Calidris canutus (4/14) Two at Sablenska Tuzla on 15th, 16th and one there on 17th and 18th; reputedly a scarce bird in Bulgaria.
Sanderling Calidris alba (7/14)
Little Stint Calidris minuta (8/14) Seen in reasonable numbers at several wetland sites.
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii (3/14) Three at Mandra (Izvorka river site) on 14th and two at Sablenska Tuzla on 16th and 17th.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea (5/14) Seen in just modest numbers at several wetland sites.
Dunlin Calidris alpina (8/14)
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus (3/14) One at Pomorie Saltpans on 15th then seen at Sablenska Tuzla, with four on 16th and two on 19th.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax (5/14) Seen at most wetland sites.
Snipe Gallinago gallinago (7/14)
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica (4/14) Up to two at Pomorie Saltpans.
Curlew Numenius arquata (1/14)
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythopus (10/14) Seen at most wetland sites.
Redshank Tringa tetanus (8/14)
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis (5/14) Three at Pomorie Saltpans on 13th and one there on 15th; one at Sablenska Tuzla on 17th; six at Atanasovsko Lake on 25th and one there on 26th.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia (8/14) Present in small numbers at several sites.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (10/14) Seen in fairly small numbers at most wetland sites.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos (1/14)
Turnstone Arenaria interpres (4/14)
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus (1/14) One juvenile at Sablenska Tuzla on 21st.
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (13/14) Seen at most wetland sites; the commonest gull.
Little Gull Larus minutus (12/14) Widespread. Most numerous at Pomorie Saltpans where 60+ were present at times and at Lake Atanasovsko where there were c.50 on 13th.
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus (14/14)
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei (7/14) Ever present in single figures at Pomorie Saltpans with small numbers also at Atanasovsko Lake and Sablenska Tuzla.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis (14/14)
Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans (1/14) A single adult on the shore near Krapec on 21st and two sub-adults photographed with Yellow-legged Gulls in a recently harvested field near Durankulak the same day.
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica (1/14) One near Atanasovsko on 24th.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia (1/14) Two at Sablenska Tuzla on 17th.
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis (12/14) Counts at Pomorie Saltpans included c.100 on 15th; c.500 on 23rd and c.100 on 25th.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo (12/14)
Little Tern Sternula albifrons (3/14)
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida (3/14) Two at Durankulak on 19th and 13 on the northern section of Pomorie Saltpans on 22nd.
White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus (1/14) A single juvenile at Durankulak on 19th.
Feral Pigeon Columba livia (14/14)
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto (11/14)
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (8/14)
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo (1/14) At the Bolata Gorge, Cape Kaliakra on 24th, one appeared on the skyline at 19.30 and showed well for about 10 minutes before flying out of our view and starting to call.
Common Swift Apus apus (3/14)
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus (3/14) Up to nine seen regularly from the St George Hotel at Pomorie.
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis (7/14)
Bee-eater Merops apiaster (9/14) Frequent sightings of migrating flocks and perched birds, especially early in the trip, with very few seen after 20th. Max. of c.700 passed through the Atanasovsko area in the morning of the 13th.
Roller Coracias garrulus (4/14) Up to three at Sabla Lake from 17th to 21st and one near Burgas Lake on 23rd.
Hoopoe Upupa epops (4/14) Widespread, though mostly in the north, in small numbers.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis (4/14)
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major (5/14)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus minor (2/14) One in the Bolata Gorge, Kaliakra on 20th and one at Mandra (Izvorka river site) on 24th.
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopus syriacus (6/14) Quite widespread.
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra (2/14) c40 near Balgarevo on 18th and 100+ there on 20th.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata (7/14) Scarce.
Skylark Alauda arvensis (5/14)
Sand Martin Riparia riparia (13/14)
Swallow Hirundo rustica (14/14)
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica (3/14) Surprisingly scarce.
House Martin Delichon urbicum (12/14)
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris (2/14) At least six near Balgarevo on 18th and 20th.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis (1/14)
Red-throated Pipit Anthus (7/14) Frequently recorded in small numbers, calling as they flew over, at most sites throughout the trip including at least 20 near Atanasovsko Lake on 24th. The only grounded birds we saw were two on wires near Atanasovsko Lake on 15th.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava (13/14)
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea (1/14)
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba (11/14)
Robin Erithacus rubecula (1/14) One near Poroy Dam on 22nd.
Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus (8/14) A common migrant; some showed characteristics of Ehrenberg’s Redstart P.p.samamisicus.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros (1/14) One at Cape Kaliakra on 20th.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (6/14)
Stonechat Saxicola torquata (2/14)
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina (2/14) Singles near Yaylata on 17th and at Balgarevo on 18th.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (8/14)
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschenka (2/14) One at Yaylata on 17th and two at Cape Kaliakra on 18th.
Blackbird Turdus merula (11/14)
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos (2/14)
River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis (1/14) One seen well at close range in the Bolata Gorge, Kaliakra on 20th though unfortunately by just one of us.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (2/14)
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobanus (5/14)
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus (2/14)
Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina (2/14) Singles at Cape Kaliakra on 18th and 20th.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca (6/14) Very numerous at times.
Whitethroat Sylvia communis (4/14)
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin (3/14)
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (4/14) Very numerous at times.
Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis (1/14) One at Cape Kaliakra on 18th.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita (5/14)
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus (7/14)
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa sriata (12/14) Abundant.
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva (7/14) Numerous and widespread, though perhaps less so than on previous trips. Frequent, often stunning, views.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatos (1/14)
Marsh Tit Parus palustris (2/14)
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus (10/14)
Great Tit Parus major (5/14)
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus (3/14) Heard at Poda on 14th, three at Pomorie Saltpans on 15th, heard at Atanasovsko Lake on 15th and two at Poda on 25th.
Nuthatch Sitta europaea (1/14)
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachdactyla (1/14) A single at Goritza between Varna and Pomorie on 16th.
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (1/14) A single at Sablenska Tuzla on 16th.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius colluria (14/14) Widespread and numerous, the vast majority were juveniles.
Jay Garrulus glandarius (8/14)
Magpie Pica pica (13/14)
Jackdaw Corvus monedula (13/14)
Rook Corvus frugilagus (5/14)
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix (10/14)
Common Starling Sternus vulgaris (14/14)
House Sparrow Passer domesticus (14/14)
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis (7/14) Widespread and numerous in rural locations, often in large flocks.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus (9/14)
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs (5/14)
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris (8/14)
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis (9/14)
Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula (1/14)
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes (1/14) A single at Goritza between Varna and Pomorie on 16th.
Reed bunting Emberiza schoenicus (1/14)
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (10/14)