One week spring birding tour along the most interesting birding spots in Bulgaria, combined with butterfly and dragonfly watching in some of the areas.
Day 1 (28th May)
The tour starts in the morning, as the tour participants will be picked up from their hotels or from Sofia Airport until 09.00 h (9 am). Then we will transfer east (for about 6 hours) – to the Northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, with stops on the way for roadside birding. Arriving at the coast in the afternoon where we will spend the rest of the day exploring Cape Kaliakra and Yailata steppes and cliffs. Here we will be looking for the European Shag (ssp. desmarestii), Eurasian Eagle Owl, Stone Curlew, Pied Wheatear, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Lesser Grey Shrike, Tawny Pipit, Black-headed Bunting, etc. Yelkouan Shearwaters often fish in the sea close to the cape.
Accommodation in the town of Kavarna for one night.
Day 2 (29th May)
In the morning we will visit the northern coastal wetlands of Shabla and Durankulak, close to the border with Romania. The highlights here will be the Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Western Marsh Harrier, Syrian Woodpecker, Bearded Reedling, Paddyfield Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike, Black-headed subspecies (feldegg) of the Yellow Wagtail, and other migrating & summering species of waders, gulls and turns.
Target species of butterflies here: Large Copper, Green-underside Blue, Red-underwing Skipper, Tufted Marbled Skipper.
Target species of dragonflies here: Dark Spreadwing, Migrant Spreadwing, Winter Damselfly, Norfolk Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Scarce Chaser, Southern Skimmer, Scarlet Darter.
Then in the afternoon we will be driving south towards Varna, as on the way we will stop at Batova riverine forest, where we will have good chances to see the Semi-collared Flycatcher, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper.
Overnight in the southern vicinity of Varna.
Day 3 (30th May)
Today we will be driving further south to the Bourgas wetlands on the southern Bulgarian coast with a long stop in the Eastern Balkan range, where we can see the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Eurasian Wryneck, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Barred Warbler, Wood Warbler, Hawfinch, Sombre Tit, Ortolan Bunting.
Target species of butterflies here: Large Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Purple Hairsteak, Black Hairstreak, Ilex Hairstreak, Lattice Brown, Eastern Rock Grayling.
In the late afternoon we will visit Pomorie Lake, where the key bird species to be seen include the Black-winged Stilt, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, Collared Pratincole, Cetti’s Warbler.
Target species of dragonflies here: Dark Spreadwing, Migrant Spreadwing, Norfolk Hawker, Southern Darter, Scarlet Darter.
For the next two nights we will be staying in the area of the city of Bourgas.
Day 4 (31st May)
We will spend the day exploring the Bourgas wetlands: Mandra Lake, Bourgas Lake and Atanasovsko Lake. Our main targets here will be the White-tailed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Great White Pelican, Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover, Gollared Pratincole, Curlew Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, etc.
Target species of butterflies here: Grecian Copper, Large Copper, Eastern Festoon, Niobe Fritillary, Lattice Brown, Oriental Marbled Skipper.
Target species of dragonflies here: Dark (Spreadwing) Emerald Damselfly, Scarce Emerald Damselfly, Norfolk (Green-eyed) Hawker, Lesser Emperor.
Day 5 (1st June)
In the morning we will make an hour and a half transfer inland to Sakar Hills, where we can except to see species like the Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser Kestrel, Montagu’s Harrier, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Syrian Woodpecker, Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Isabelline Wheatear, Black-headed Bunting.
Target species of butterflies here: Eastern Festoon, Southern Small White, Eastern Dappled White, Large Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Lesser Fiery Copper, Freyer’s Purple Emperor, Southern White Admiral, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Weaver’s Fritillary, Eastern Knapweed Fritillary, Assmann’s Fritillary, Russian Heath, Orbed Red-underwing Skipper.
Target species of dragonflies here: Odalisque, Hairy (Hawker) Dragonfly, Yellow-legged (River) Clubtail, Green (Snaketail) Clubtail, Turkish Goldenring, Blue-eyed Goldenring.
In the afternoon we will leave further southeast to the Eastern Rhodope Mnts, where we will stop to observe the main Eurasian Griffon Vulture breeding site in the country. Other good birds we might expect to see here include the Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Black Stork, Little Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear (the eastern race ssp. melanoleuca), Eastern Orphean Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting.
Check-in for two nights in the town of Krumovgrad.
Day 6 (2nd June)
A whole day in the Eastern Rhodopes, incl. a visit to one of the main vulture feeding places in the area. Main birds to be seen include the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite – all of them visit the feeding place, plus Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Black Stork, Chukar, Scops Owl, Little Owl, Black-eared Wheatear (the eastern race ssp. melanoleuca), Olive-tree Warbler, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Barred Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Western Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Cirl Bunting.
Target species of butterflies here: Eastern Festoon, Southern Small White, Krueper’s Small White, Small Bath White, Purple Hairstreak, Ilex Hairstreak, Grecian Copper, Lesser Fiery Copper, Little Tiger Blue, Eastern Baton Blue, Meleager’s Blue, Freyer’s Purple Emperor, Southern White Admiral, Balkan Marbled White, Lattice Brown, Oberthur’s Grizzled Skipper, Yellow-banded Skipper, Lulworth Skipper
Target species of dragonflies here: Odalisque, Ornate Bluet, Dainty Damselfly, Vagrant Emperor, Eastern Spectre, Turkish Goldenring
Day 7 (3rd June)
Transfer west to Rila Mountains, with stops on the way, searching for birds and butterflies.
We will arrive in Rila in the afternoon and will explore the eastern part of Rila National Park in the rest of the day, focusing mainly on finding the elusive Hazel Grouse and Eurasian Pygmy Owl.
Overnight in the area of Rila Mnts.
Target species of butterflies here: Berger’s Clouded Yellow, Osiris Blue, Chequered Blue, Eastern Baton Blue, Balkan Zephyr Blue, Reverdin’s Blue, Marbled Skipper, Tufted Marbled Skipper.
Day 8 (4th June)
We will spend most of the day in Rila Mnts, targeting the Hazel Grouse and Eurasian Pygmy Owl again, plus the Spotted Nutcracker, Ring Ouzel (ssp. alpestris), Willow Tit, Crested Tit, Firecrest, plus Water Pipit in the mountain grasslands and streams.
In the late afternoon – transfer for ~ 2 hours to Sofia, where we will finish the tour.