Bulgaria May 2018, part 2

After a good breakfast and a local meander down the lane where I had Whinchat, Woodchat and Stonechat as well as the regular goodies, we packed some butties for lunch and headed for the Burgas wetlands. First port of call was just off the main road overlooking the shallow Burgas Lake that was covered in birds. Great rafts of Great White Pelicans with a few Dalmatians dotted in amongst them gorged themselves in one corner of the lake along with gulls and terns. Pygmy Cormorants were in amongst the Greater Cormorants and Great Crested Grebes fringed the lakeside. There were A few ducks, notably Garganey and Pochard and raptors overhead.
Great White Pelican

Dalmatian Pelican

Pygmy Cormorant

Flight of Great White Pelicans
After an hour or so, the Pelicans started to move off and so we did too to a lake on the south side of Burgas where we had great views of Squacco Heron and trip firsts such as Glossy Ibis, Gull-billed Tern and Great Reed Warbler.
At the salt pans back in Burgas there were lots of waders but all a little distant. Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints made up the bulk of the migrants with Terns and Avocets abundant. A couple of Slender-billed Gulls were here too.
Then it was a little further north for lunch whilst enjoying reed-bed birds such as Penduline Tits though access to the main reed beds was not possible and it was very warm!
Cuckoo

Crested Lark
The afternoon was spent a the reservoir near Poroy where we enjoyed around 25 Whiskered Terns feeding along with Ruddy Sheduck, Wood Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, White-tailed Eagle and all three ‘regular’ woodpeckers in the nearby woodland.
Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

Ruddy Shelduck
A final look at the marshes on the way back gave us a few more waders and a host of Little Gulls and then it was back to Burgas to our Hotel for the night. After dinner, we took a stroll round the block to hear, and eventually see, a Scop’s Owl.
We headed north on Thursday through the eastern Balkan Mountains with stops at several places en-route to Varna where we picked up Eastern Bonellli’s Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Barred Warbler, Wood Warbler, four Woodpeckers plus Wryneck as well as Hoopoes and Bee-eaters galore. The Flycatchers were around a nest-box scheme where around 40/200 boxes were occupied. We had excellent prolonged views of males singing (some trying to find a mate, others defending the territory they had).
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Cirl Bunting

Syrian Woodpecker

Semi-collared Flycatcher in habitat
After Ice-creams in Varna we headed for Cape Kaliakra to get some more special birds. The place was alive with Pied Wheatears and birds on the sea included the Mediterranean subspecies of Shag, around 700 Yelkouan Shearwaters, a few Black-necked Grebes and Black-throated Divers and an Arctic Skua chasing terns for good measure. We also got Alpine Swifts here.
Pied Wheatear
Our hotel for the night was just south of Lake Durankulak and so early the following morning we headed to the area passing innumerable Red-backed Shrikes on the way. There had been a thunderstorm overnight and suspected that this was a ‘fall’ of migrants. As we arrived, a White-tailed Eagle arose from its roost. The reed bed was alive with bird song - the loud grating song of Great Reed Warblers filled the air and soon the cacophony was joined by a reeling Savi’s Warbler. Ferruginous Ducks were in the pools and Lesser Grey Shrikes in the surrounding vegetation. The omnipresent Orioles gave us some splendid views before Mark found a pair of Paddyfield Warblers which we enjoyed. Montague’s and Marsh Harriers quartered the reedbeds.
Paddyfield Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Red-backed Shrike
With all the target birds in the bag as it were, we headed back for breakfast and check-out before heading to Kavarna where we had great views of singing Marsh Warblers despite the nearby traffic and road-works.
Calandra Lark
Marsh Warbler
Then it was off to do some steppe birding - yet more Red-backed Shrikes - we estimated 2-300 along a 5km stretch of track - as well as our first Calandra and Short-toed Larks. Alpine Swifts buzzed overhead and we eventually found a Long-legged Buzzard with better views of a second bird later in the day. We even jammed in on a second male Levant Sparrowhawk as it was mobbed by corvids.
Finally, we finished off at a couple of Bee-eater colonies as a relaxing conclusion to our four days in Bulgaria before having our final dinner together and then getting dropped off at the airport.
All-in-all, a splendid trip with 166 species recorded and 12 new for myself. I’d heartily recommend Neophron Tours and Bulgaria as a destination for some great wildlife. And I’ve not even mentioned the flowers and Butterflies we saw!!!

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