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Bulgaria - Spring Birdwatching Itinerary

Day 1

You will be collected from Sofia airport and transferred by a minibus to the Central Rhodope Mountains.  

The Rhodope Mountains occupy a large part of Central South Bulgaria and enchant the visitors with lush meadows interspaced with coniferous forests, steep cliffs and picturesque canyons.  As we reach the foothills of the mountains we have good chances to see Black Stork, Honey Buzzard, Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker and Red-backed Shrike.  

Our hotel is situated at an altitude of 1200 metres in a the picturesque village of Trigrad,  with stunning view over the mountains and colourful meadows.  In our immediate vicinity we have good chances to encounter Common Crossbill, Rock Bunting and Pallid Swift.

Day 2

In the morning, we will visit the Trigrad Gorge, a canyon of vertical marble rocks cut over millions of years by the Trigrad River.  The gorge was declared a protected reserve in 1963
and is the best place in Europe for seeing Wallcreeper.  Although nothing in nature is guaranteed, it is unlikely that we will miss this bird here.  In this stunning alpine scenery other species are also possible and these include Alpine Swift, Peregrine Falcon and Crag Martin.

In the afternoon, we will proceed to the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains to our second accommodation for the next two nights.  Our hotel is situated within walking distance of the valley of the Kroumovitza River, home to species such as Black Stork, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow and Scops Owl, amongst others.

Day 3

We will spend the entire day in the Kladenetz region.  The landscape is of ancient volcanic origin with huge rocks and gold deposits.  The habitat of stunted shrubs harbours fabulous populations of birds of prey and we should encounter Golden, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, and Black, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures.  Some other species will also enrich our bird list here and these might include Pallid Swift, Rock Nuthatch, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Somber Tit, Cirl, Black-headed and Ortolan Buntings, Barred, Subalpine, Sardinian and Orphean Warblers.

Day 4

Our journey will take us today eastwards towards the Black Sea coast.   We will travel through a picturesque and varied landscape of wooded hills, green valleys and stony plains, where stops will be made in search for bird specialities such as Masked Shrike and Olive-tree Warbler.   No doubt other species will draw our attention too and these might include Black-headed Bunting, Roller, Bee-eater, Lesser Grey Shrike.  Calandra Lark might display in the field by the road.

We will be based for the next two nights in a comfortable hotel close to the sea.

Day 5

In the morning, we will venture into the  nearby salinas, where we will view our first waders: Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Grey and Ringed Plovers, Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. 

A visit to Lake Mandra, will enrich our list with more waders, but birds of prey are also possible and these might include Imperial, White-tailed and Short-toed Eagles and Montagu’s Harrier. 

Day 6

Our tour will take us today to the north part of the Black Sea coast. 

We will make several stops to view some birds along the route and these might include anything from Barred Warbler or Semi-collared Flycatcher to Wryneck or Levant Sparrowhawk.

After a break for lunch of tasteful local cruise, we will proceed further with the aim to reach our hotel for two nights, by late afternoon.

Day 7

We will spend the entire day birdwatching in the north-eastern part of the country, where a complex of lakes (Durankulak and the neighbouring Shabla lakes), form the only natural coastal firth along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Furthermore, the remnants of former indigenous steppes around the lake’s southern banks, are one of the rarest ecosystems in Bulgaria. The site is most significant for the conservation of wintering populations of Red-breasted Goose. However, in spring, we will be on the look-out for some breeding birds and these will include internationally important populations of Little Bittern, Kentish Plover and Lesser Grey Shrike, and nationally significant Ferruginous Duck, Mute Swan, Marsh Harrier, Calandra Lark and Paddyfield Warbler.  We might also encounter here Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, Bearded Tit, Red-footed Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk and Long-legged Buzzard.

The region is also significant botanically, and five Balkan endemic plant species and 27 others with international and national conservation value (e.g Schoenoplectus triqueter) are found here.

In the afternoon, we will continue birding in the Cape Kaliakra Steppe Nature Reserve.  Strolling through the grassland, we should encounter typical steppe species, with the Stone Curlew, the Greater Short-toed Lark and the Calandra Lark holding the biggest breeding populations in the country.  Other species present here include Isabeline and Pied Wheatears and almost the whole national population of the Pied Wheatear is concentrated in the region.  Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes, Black-headed and Corn Buntings are abundant here and if we are lucky we might come across Rose-coloured Starlings, which put in an appearance here during their periodic invasions from Asia.

The birds of prey will be easy to spot in this open habitat and we might encounter the Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Hobby and Eagle Owl, amongst others. The steppe is also important for the conservation of the Marbled Polecat, Black-breasted Golden Hamster and Souslik.

In addition, the reserve protects the biggest cliffs along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, which apart from a dramatic landscape, provide good nesting sites for the only Bulgarian colony of the European Shag.

Day 8

We will leave early in the morning and head westwards to reach the famous Danube river in the early afternoon.  We should have enough time to explore the Srebarna Nature Reserve and its surrounding habitats.  The lake is a UNESCO Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve and supports about 100 breeding species of bird, many of which are rare or endangered.

The extensive reedbeds, floating reed islands, flooded willow woodlands and the surrounding marshlands are home to the globally threatened Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck and Corncrake.  The area provides ideal breeding habitat for Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Purple, Squacco and Night Herons, Little and Great White Egrets, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole and Nightingale.  Whiskered, Black and White-winged Black Terns will be seen scooping insects from the water surface and Ruddy Shelducks forage on the banks of the small dry valleys around the lakes.  Many raptors find a refuge here too and these include Levant Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Marsh Harrier, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Honey Buzzard.

Our accommodation for the night is a lodge built in traditional Bulgarian style and strategically situated only two kilometres from the River Danube.

Day 9

In the morning, we will stroll along the River Danube and visit a serious of fishponds and the large Nova Cherna Marsh, where more waterbirds will be ticked off the list, including grebes, terns and ducks. 

We will, eventually, drive to Bucharest airport to catch our return flight to Britain.

Tour Report 2015

Tour Brochure Booking Info
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 Orchids in Bulgaria


Grey Wagtail in Bulgaria

White Stork

Pied Wheatear

Calandra Lark

Black-headed Bunting

Great Reed Warbler

Red-backed Shrike


Little Tern

Brown Hare

Large Copper