Spring Bird Photography Tour in Bulgaria

Black-headed Bunting by Mladen Vasilev

This is a 12-day bird photography tour in Bulgaria, which provides excellent conditions to take pictures of colourful and attractive European birds, such as the Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Black-headed Bunting, Red-backed Shrike, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Pied Wheatear, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole and many others.

This tour runs in 4 different regions in Bulgaria – the Black Sea coast, the Sakar Hills, the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and the Western Rhodope Mountains. We take photos from fixed (permanent) hides, tent-hides and vehicles. We normally do early morning and late afternoon photo-sessions to get the best possible light for photography, and we make the transfers to different areas in the mid-day hours.

 

Day 1: The tour starts from Varna at 14.00 h in the afternoon (2 p.m.) at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Varna Airport, or from their accommodation place within the city of Varna, if they have arrived in the previous day(s). Then we will have a short transfer to the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, where we will be staying for two nights. During the rest of the day we will have our first photo-session at Cape Kaliakra and the surrounding steppes, which are home to species such as the Alpine Swift, Pied Wheatear, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Black-headed Bunting.

Day 2 & Day 3: In these two days we will visit three different sites for bird photography:

– The coastal lakes of Durankulak and Shabla: here our focus will be on species like the Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Black-headed Bunting, Penduline Tit, Yellow Wagtail (the black-headed subspecies feldegg), Paddyfield Warbler, Savi’s Warbler;

– One of our local sites for Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater and European Roller photography.

– The steppes and cliffs at Cape Kaliakra;

In the end of Day 3 we will have a short transfer south to the oak forests of the Eastern Balkan Range, where we will stay for two nights

Day 4: A full day in the Eastern Balkan Range. Here we have a setting of several permanent hides for photographing a big variety of forests and farmland birds, including the European Green Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Barred Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Red-backed Shrike.

Day 5: We will have another morning session targeting forests birds. Then we will move further south – to the Bourgas coastal wetlands, where we will spend the rest of the day. Here we have very good opportunities for photographing White Pelicans, Squacco and Purple Herons and a variety of waders, such as the Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avoset, Kentish Plover, Collared Pratincole, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern. Overnight in Bourgas.

Day 6: After the morning session at the Bourgas lakes we will move inland and reach another interesting site, the Sakar Hills. Here we usually take very good flight shots of the Eastern Imperial Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard feeding on the Souslik colonies in the area. Various passerines can be photographed here, including the Olive-tree Warbler, Black-headed Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Masked Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear. The accommodation will be in the town of Topolovgrad, for one night.

Days 7, 8 & 9: Our next destination is the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, an hour drive further south-west. There, for one day we will make use of our special fixed hide for photographing Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vultures and Black Kites feeding on carcass. There are good chances of photographing other birds of prey coming to the carcass, such as Eurasian Black (Cinereous) Vulture and White-tailed Eagle. We will survey the cliffs in the area for Western Rock Nuthatch and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. We can also put tent-hides along the local rivers, where we have excellent chances of photographing feeding Black Storks.  Accommodation in the area of Krumovgrad for three nights.

Day 10: After the morning session in the Eastern Rhodopes, we will be travelling to the Western Rhodope Mountains crossing lots of picturesque and scenic areas. We will be staying in the area of the Trigrad, which is one of the most reliable places in Europe to photograph the Wallcreeper. Accommodation in the area of Trigrad for two nights.

Days 11: A full day in the Western Rhodopes. Apart from the Wallcreeper, here we will try to photograph other attractive birds like the White-throated Dipper, Firecrest and Goldcrest, Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Black Redstart.

Day 12: Transfer for 3 hours to Sofia Airport, where we finish the tour. If we have time we can visit the mountains in the southern vicinity of Sofia, where we have excellent opportunities to photograph the Spotted Nutcracker and other high mountain birds.

This tour itinerary could be changed on the spot depending on the weather conditions and the success in photographing the tour participants’ target birds.

On this tour we will travel past colorful meadows, sand dunes and shrub habitats, which are full of flowers, butterflies, reptiles and other wildlife, giving you an opportunity for enjoyable macro-photography too.

 

 

European Bee-eatersEuropean Bee-eaters by Dimiter Georgiev

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