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A Report from

Bulgaria - Albena and a few other sites, 3rd to 17th June 2005,

Trond Haugskott

All the images in this report are clickable!


This trip was basically an ordinary two-week family holiday with wife and kids. We went to Albena because it was said to be more “family friendly” than our two other choices, Sunny Beach and Golden Sands. Albena is also strategically well situated for trips to some famous bird sites further north, notably Srebarna, Durankulak, Shabla, and Cape Kaliakra as well as several others if you have a lot of time on your hand.

We arrived at Albena late evening June 3rd and left again for Trondheim, Norway on morning June 17th. We were staying at a hotel at the very southernmost part of the resort.

All in all, I was impressed by Bulgaria. Beautiful nature (even inside a typical tourist resort like Albena), friendly people and a lot of interesting birds, even in mid June. If you buy food and other things outside the tourist resorts, it is also extremely cheap.


Where to Watch Birds in Bulgaria: Petar Iankov: Pensoft (1996)

Finding Birds in Bulgaria: Dave Gosney: Gostours (1994)

Both of these are essential. Also, be sure to get the update to Gosney on the Internet:


Like Neil Money, I was able to find very little birding information for Bulgaria on the Internet. In the end I only downloaded Neils excellent report (I also used his layout as basic for my trip report) and the update to Gosney's booklet. Both were very useful.


(for directions, see Iankov and Gosney's books as well as Neil Money's trip report.


This was the place we were staying, and the place I did most of my birding. Most days I went out very early in the morning, 0530/0600 and back at around 0830/0900 for breakfast together with the family. On a few days I also did some limited birding in the middle of the day as well as the evening.

For simplicity, I have divided Albeno into four (un-official) parts:

Albena: This is the resort itself, named “Albena resort” on the map. A lot of green areas, trees and gardens make sure that even this part has a lot of interesting birds.

“Albena N”: This is the area North of Albena along the sea, named “Albena North” on the map. Here there are mainly scrubby areas as well as some cliffs.

“Albena S”: This is the area directly South of the resort, named “Albena South” on the map. This area has varied habitats, but mostly bushes and fields. The beach here is a nudist beach, so birding is mostly restricted to the early hours.

“Albena SW”: This is the area West of the road to the village Kranevo and South of the Baltata Reserve, named “Albena South West” on the map. This area is also pretty varied with bushes, fields, orchards and rather large reed areas.

With exception of “Albena N”, all these parts touch the Baltata Reserve, which is one of the northernmost flooded forests in Europe. This forest is composed of large, old trees with many lianas and is flooded several times a year. It is forbidden to enter the reserve, but by walking along the edges you should be able to observe most of the bird species.

Map of Albena area


Srebarna is situated about 130 kilometres North-west of Albena. It is large marsh on the bank of the Danube River, famous for its wetland birds, notably its colony of Dalmatian Pelicans, one of my target birds. The last years some 130 pairs have been breeding and they are easy to observe from several points around the site. This is a great site, packed with interesting birds!

Normally I would rent a car, but since I only was to visit a few places outside Albena, I decided to book a taxi on my trips. Rental car is pretty expensive in Bulgaria, taxi is not. I spent a day here, June 8th, and taxi cost me 150 Leva, about 70 Euros.

Cape Kaliakra

Cape Kaliakra  is situated about 50 kilometres North-east of Varna and one of the best sites in Europe for Pied Wheatear, one of my target birds. The birds are very easy to see around the Cape itself, several pairs are breeding here. The area has also a lot of other interesting birds to offer.

Be sure to visit the marshy ravine described by Neil Money and Gosney.

I spent the best part of a day here, June 9th, and taxi from Albena cost me 90 Leva, around 40 Euros. In addition, we did a family trip out here on June 14th.


Durankulak is situated about 80 kilometres north of Albena. It is fresh-water lake on the coastline of the Black Sea, famous for its Paddyfield Warblers (yet another target bird) and wintering Red-breasted Geese, as well as being a generally excellent birding site all year round. The Paddyfield Warblers were easy to locate as I walked along the eastern edge of the reed-beds of the water. In June, the numbers of wetland birds here were much lower than at Srebarna, though.

I spent a day here (including Shabla), June 11th, and paid the Taxi driver 100 Leva, about 45 Euros.

Shabla Lake

Shabla is situated about 65 kilometres north of Albena. I visited this area the same day as Durankulak, and as I was running a bit short on time, I only visited the “wader pool”, Shabla Tuzla.  An excellent little pool, with lot of interesting birds, including the majority of the waders I did see on the holiday. If I had spent some time on Shabla Lake itself, I probably would have seen Collared Pratincoles as well.

I also planned to visit (but had to skip) - Cape Emine and Goritza Forest

Cape Emine is situated about 120 kilometres south of Albena. Goritza Forest is situated about 100-110 kms south of Albena. Both sites can easily be visited on the same trip. Taxi from Albena would cost me 150 Leva, about 70 Euros. I had hoped for a trip at the end of the holiday, but “negotiations” with the family stranded….

Cape Emine is one of the well-known capes along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, the easternmost point of the Balkan Mountains. As far as I know, it is the closest place to Albena for Olive-tree warbler, at least in mid-summer. It should also have a lot of other interesting birds that I didn’t manage to observe at the other sites: Lesser Spotted Eagle, Rock Trush, Blue Rock Trush and Sombre Tit.

Goritza Forest is broad-leaved forest with rich bushy vegetation near international road E87. It has many of the birds you can see in the Baltata Reserve in Albena, but Semi-collared Flycatcher is said to be easier to locate here.


1. Black-throated Diver
1 adult Black Sea outside Albena 4th, 5 subadults Black Sea outside Durankulak 11th.

2. Little Grebe
1 Srebarna 8th, 1 Cape Kariakla 9th, 4 Durankulak 11th.

3. Great Crested Grebe
15+ Srebarna 8th (breeding), 1 Black Sea outside Albena 10th, 4 Durankulak 11th.

4. Yelkouan Shearwater
Flock of 170 outside Albena 13th.

5. Cormorant
Common, seen daily outside Albena, 100+ Srebarna 8th, 200+ Durankulak 11th.

6. Shag
40+ at Cape Kaliakra 9th and14th.

7. Pygmy Cormorant
70+ Srebarna 8th.

8. White Pelican
Flock of 310 passing Albena northwards 9th, seen from the balcony of the hotel it was a magnificent sight! 200+ Durankulak 11th.

9. Dalmatian Pelican
250+ Srebarna 8th. Easy to locate from all observation points around the site.

10. Little Bittern
12+ Srebarna 8th, 2 Cape Kaliakra 9th, one Albena S 12th and 16th.

11. Night Heron
40+ Srebarna 8th.

12. Squacco Heron
80+ Srebarna 8th.

13. Little Egret
50+ Srebarna 8th, one Durankulak 11th, 2 passing by Albena 17th.

14. Great White Egret
3 Srebarna 8th.

15. Grey Heron
Common in suitable habitat.

16. Purple Heron
15+ Srebarna 8th, 2 Durankulak 11th.

17. White Stork
Seen in small numbers several places north of Albena.

18. Glossy Ibis
30+ Srebarna 8th.

19. Spoonbill
15+ Srebarna 8th, 1 passing by Albena 10th.

20. Mute Swan
10 Srebarna (breeding) 8th, 3 Durankulak and one Shabla 11th.

21. White-fronted Goose
1 Shabla 11th.

22. Ruddy Shelduck
1 Shabla 11th.

23. Common Shelduck
3 Durankulak and 12 Shabla 11th.

24. Gadwall
4 Srebarna 8th, 1M Shabla 11th.

25. Mallard

26. Garganey
8 Srebarna 8th, 14 Shabla 11th.

27. Northern Shoveler
1 Shabla 11th.

28. Red-crested Pochard
1 pair Srebarna 8th.

29. Pochard
40+ Srebarna 8th, 1 Shabla 11th.

30. Ferruginous Pochard
15+ Srebarna 8th, 5 Durankulak and 16 Shabla 11th.

31. Tufted Duck
1M Srebarna 8th.

32. Red-Breasted Merganser
1F Black Sea outside Durankulak 11th.

33. Honey Buzzard
1 along the road to Srebarna 8th, 1 Cape Kaliakra and I over Baltata Reserve, Albena 9th.

34. Marsh-Harrier
Pretty common in suitable habitat.

35. Common Buzzard
Pretty common.

36. Long-legged Buzzard
1 along the road to Cape Kaliakra 9th, 1 along the road to Durankulak 11th.

(Lesser Spotted Eagle)
1 probably along the road between Albena and Varna 17th.

37. Kestrel

38. Red-footed Falcon
1M hunting insects Albena S evening 11th.

39. Hobby
1 Silistra 8th, 1 Albena 9th.

40. Grey Partridge
1 along the road to Srebarna (near Silistra) 8th.

41. Common Quail
A british birdwatcher observed one Albena SW 13th.

42. Water Rail
3+ Srebarna 8th.

(Little Crake)
1 probably heard (briefly) Durankulak 11th.

43. Cornkrake
1 heard Srebarna 8th, 1 heard Durankulak 11th.

44. Moorhen
Surprisingly rare: 1 Shabla, 1 ad. and 1 pull. Albena S 16th.

45. Coot
Small numbers in suitable habitat, max 20+ Srebarna 8th.

46. Black-winged Stilt
24 Shabla 11th.

47. Avocet
1 Shabla 8th.

48. Stone Curlew
1 Cape Kaliakra 14th .

49. Little Ringed Plover
2 Durankulak and 4 Shabla 11th, 1 Albena N 17th.

50. Kentish Plover
4 Durankulak and 8 Shabla 11th.

51. Lapwing
5 Shabla 11th.

52. Little Stint
3 Shabla 11th.

53. Black-tailed Godwit
1 Shabla 11th.

54. Spotted Redshank
2 Shabla 11th.

55. Redshank
3 Shabla 11th.

56. Marsh Sandpiper
2 Durankulak and 4 Shabla 11th.

57. Green Sandpiper
1 Durankulak and 1 Shabla 11th, 1 Albena S the day after.

58. Common Sandpiper
1 Albena 11th and 16th.

59. Mediterrian Gull
10+ Cape Kaliakra and Albena 9th, 2 outside Albena 10th, 8 Albena 14th.

60. Little Gull
2 subad Shabla 11th.

61. Black-headed Gull
Up to 40+ seen almost daily outside Albena.

62. Caspian/Yellow-legged Gull
Very common, several huundred seen daily.

63. Gull-billed Tern
2 Durankulak and 2 Shabla 11th.

64. Sandwich Tern
Up to 15 seen almost daily outside Albena, also seen Cape Kaliakra.

65. Common Tern
10+ Srebarna 8th and Durankulak 11th.

66. Little Tern
3 Durankulak and 8 Shabla 11th, 1 Albena 16th.

67. Whiskered Tern
100+ Srebarna 8th, 2 Durankulak and 15 Shabla 11th.

68. White-winged Tern
1 Durankulak 11th.

69. Black Tern
20+ Srebarna 8th, 1 Shabla 11th.

70. Rock/Feral Dove
Common in urban areas.

71. Woodpigeon
Common in Baltata Reserve, Albena.

72. Turtle Dove
Very common in suitable habitat, 500+ seen along the road to Srebarna 8th.

73. Collared Dove
Common in villages/urban areas.

74. Cuckoo
Very common, never seen so many in my life!

75. Alpine Swift
10+ Cape Kaliakra 9th and 14th, 30+ near Balchik 13th and 14th, 1 Albena 15th.

76. Swift

77. Bee-eater
Seen in small numbers several places.

78. Roller
2 along the road to Srebarna 8th, 2 Cape Kaliakra 9th, 1 Albena SW 10th, 1 Durankulak 11th.

79. Hoopoe
Surprisingly enough, rather few were seen and heard.

80. Wryneck
1 Baltata Reserve 10th.

(Grey-headed Woodpecker)
Surprisingly enough, either seen or heard during my stay in Albena. Having seen and heard lot of Grey-headed in Norway, I can’t say I even heard something that COULD have been a Grey-headed. According to Gosney, the Grey-headed should be pretty safe in Albena. Maybe it was the wrong time of the year? At least in Norway, they are very quiet during the summer months.

81. Green Woodpecker
Common, especially so in Baltata Reserve, Albena.

82. Black Woodpecker
1 seen in Baltata Reserve 10th and 1 heard same place 16th.

83. Great Spotted Woodpecker
At least 4 pairs in Baltata Reserve.

84. Syrian Woodpecker
Common in suitable habitat. In Albena, the Great Spotted typically occupied the Baltata Reserve, while the Syrian was seen in the Albena Resort itself, as well as gardens, orchards and even scrubby terrain at several other places.

85. Middle Spotted Woodpecker
One of the highlights of the holiday. Together with the Green Woodpecker, the Middle Spotted was, rather surprisingly, the most common woodpecker in the Baltata Reserve, at least 6-7 pairs were noted.

86. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
1-4 were heard (mostly) and seen almost daily, both in the Baltata Reserve and Albena resort itself.

87. Calandra Lark
50+ Cape Kaliakra 9th, 20+ Durankulak 11th, 1 Albena SW 14th.

88. Short-toed Lark
2 Cape Kaliakra 9th

89. Crested Lark

90. Woodlark
1 Albena S 14th and 16th.

91. Skylark
Common in suitable (agricultural) habitat.

92. Sand Martin
50+ Durankulak

93. Barn Swallow
Very common

94. Red-rumped Swallow
8 Cape Kaliakra 9th.

95. House Martin
Very common

96. Tawny Pipit
2 Durankulak 11th.

97. Pied Wagtail
Pretty common.

98. Yellow (Black-headed) Wagtail
Pretty common in suitable (agricultural) habitat.

99. Robin
Common in Baltata Reserve and also in Albena itself.

100. Trush Nightingale
1 seen and heard Baltata Reserve 13th by a British birdwatcher. According to Gosney, it should be common in Albena, but I couldn't find any at all during my 14 days.

101. Nightingale
Very common

102. Black Redstart
One pair Albena “Administration Centre” 15th.

103. Stonechat
One pair with 4 young Albena S 9th, 10th and 12th.

104. Pied Wheatear
Common Cape Kaliakra, 20+ here 9th and 14th, several pairs around the Cape itself. One pair Durankulak (near the restaurant) 11th, one pair Albena N 13th (near the cliff described by Gosney) and one pair + 1M same place 17th.

105. Blackbird
Very common in Albena.

106. Song Trush
Pretty common in Baltata Reserve.

107. Cetti's Warbler
1-5 heard on all visits to Albena S and SW.

108. Savi's Warbler
2 heard Srebarna 8th, 5+ heard Durankulak 11th, 1 heard briefly Albena S 12th.

109. Paddyfield Warbler
30+ heard and seen along the Eastern edge of Durankulak 11th. Fortunately, they were much easier to observe than the common Reed Warbler. I heard as least as many of the latter, but hardly saw a single one! In addition, 2 Paddyfield Warblers were seen at Shabla the same day.

110. Reed Warbler
Common in suitable habitat.

111. Great Reed Warbler
Common in suitable habitat.

112. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Very common Albena N, at least 10 singing males here on all three visits. 1-2 also seen and heard Albena S and SW.

(Olive-tree Warbler)
One of my target birds. According to the updated Gosney, this one should be possible in the ravine at Cape Kaliakra, but I couldn’t find any. Looks like the best place closest to Albena is still Cape Emine?

113. Icterine Warbler
One heard and seen Albena S 10th.

114. Barred Warbler
1-2 singing males were seen and heard on most visits to Albena S, SW and N.

115. Lesser Whitethroat
Pretty common.

116. Whitethroat

117. Blackcap
Common in Baltata Reserve

118. Spotted Flycatcher
1-2 was seen on several occasions in Baltata Reserve.

119. Semi-collared Flycatcher
One pair was breeding near our Hotel, close to an old Guard House. In addition, the male was seen chasing off another male on a couple of occasions. When I revisited the site on the 12th, the birds had left the nest, but I did see a female nearby on the 13th. 1F was seen in a different place in Baltata Reserve 15th.

120. Bearded Tit
2 juveniles seen and at least 5 heard Durankulak 11th.

121. Blue Tit
Common in Albena

122. Great Tit
Very common in Albena.

123. Nuthatch
1 Baltata Reserve 7th, 2 same place 16th.

124. Short-toed Treecreeper
Pretty common in Baltata Reserve.

125. Penduline Tit
1-2 marsh at Cape Kaliakra 9th, at least one Durankulak 11th.

126. Golden Oriole
Common in almost all sorts of wooded habitats.

127. Red-backed Shrike
Common in suitable habitat.

128. Lesser Grey Shrike
Pretty common in suitable habitat, but not seen around Albena: 1 Srebarna 8th. 4 Cape Kaliakra 9th, 8+ Durankulak, Shabla and along the road, 2 Cape Kaliakra 14th.

129. Jay

130. Magpie

131. Jackdaw
Pretty common.

132. Hooded Crow
Pretty common.

133. Rook
300+ along the road between Dobrich and Srebarna 8th.

134. Starling

135. House Sparrow

136. Spanish Sparrow
Common in agricultural habitats, often seen in large flocks.

137. Tree Sparrow
Pretty common.

138. Chaffinch
Very common, especially so in Baltata Reserve.

139. Greenfinch

140. Goldfinch

141. Linnet
1M Cape Kaliakra 9th, one pair Albena N 17th.

142. Hawfinch
Common, especially so in Baltata Reserve.

143. Yellowhammer
1M seen along the road between Dobrich and Silistra 8th.

144. Cirl Bunting
One pair with one young Albena Roundabout 6th, in addition 2 singing males in about the same area. 1 singing M Albena Roundabout 16th. One pair with one young Albena Resort 17th.

145. Rock Bunting
1M Albena N 13th.

146. Ortolan Bunting
1 Albena S 16th.

147. Black-headed Bunting
Common in suitable habitat. In Albena, the best areas to see it were Albena SW and the Western part of Albena S. I didn’t see it at Albena N, which is described as the best habitat in Gosney.

148. Reed Bunting
20+ of the big-billed and “clean”, Eastern subspecies at Durankulak and 2 at Shabla 11th.

149. Corn Bunting
Very common in suitable habitat.



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