Spring Migration Tour

Glossy Ibises by Mladen Vasilev

The tour focuses on the spectacular spring migration of hundreds of thousand of birds of prey, water birds and passerines along the Black Sea Flyway, known as the Via Pontica. The tour also allows to enjoy the song and display of the resident birds and the early arriving breeders.

Day 1
The tour starts from Varna or Bourgas at 14.00 h in the afternoon at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Varna or Bourgas Airport, as they are kindly requested to arrive there until 14.00 h (2 p.m.), or from their accommodation place within the two cities, if they have arrived earlier..
Check-in for 4 nights in Sarafovo part of the city of Bourgas. If the arrival is in Varna – it takes 2 hours to get south to Bourgas.

Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4
We will spend these 3 days in the area of the wetlands around Bourgas, incl. the Bourgas Lake (Vaya), Atanasovsko Lake and Mandra Lake.
One of the biggest attractions of the Bourgas wetlands are the two species of pelicans – the Dalmatian Pelican and White Pelican, stopping for long time there during the migration. Here you will be able also to see and enjoy the spectacular raptor and stork migration along the coast, incl. migrating Short-toed Eagles, Lesser Spotted Eagles, Black Kites, Marsh, Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers, Common Buzzards, Black and White Storks, and possibly early migrating Red-footed Falcons too.

Other birds of interest at Bourgas wetlands include all the species of European herons, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck, Garganey, White-tailed Eagle, Little and Spotted crakes, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Meditteranean Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Scops Owl, Cetti`s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Bearded Reedling, other migrating & summering species of waders, gulls, terns and passerines, incl. at least 4 subspecies of the Yellow Wagtail and the Citrine Wagtail.

Day 5
Drive to the northern Black Sea coast via Pomorie Lake – a shallow lagoon, especially good for waders, and the Eastern Balkan range, where in the forest and shrub areas we can expect to find some residents like the Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch, Short-toed Treeckreeper, Sombre Tit, Cirl Bumting, as well as an early arriving migrants like the Semi-collared Flycatcher and the Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler.

Accommodation on the northern Bulgarian coast for three nights (in the area of the town of Kavarna)

Day 6 and Day 7
In the next two days we will explore Coastal Dobroudzha. This is the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black sea coast. The relief is plain, rolling gradually towards coastal lakes, sand dunes and beaches. Cape Kaliakra is the southern limit of this geographic area. The sea cliff there towers up to 70 m. Here are also the last remnants of the Great Steppe, formerly occupying the bigger part of the region.

At the Cape Kaliakra we will be able to see the Mediterranean subspecies (desmarestii) of the European Shag and migrating seabirds. On the dry, open steppe-land around the Cape we will find Calandra Lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Stone Curlew and a range of migrants, including various specias of wheatears, larks, pipits, buntings. The shrubs will produce a great diversity of warblers as well. From around mid-April on there will be chances to see the first arrived Pied Wheatears and Alpine Swifts around the cliffs of the Cape.
Some residents like the Long-legged Buzzard and Eurasian Eagle Owl will also be around.

In the second day we will visit the coastal lakes of Shabla and Durankulak. Large number of birds are likely to be present here, including Pygmy Cormorant, Great Bittern, Ferruginous Duck, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Turn, etc. Waders should be around too, as well as some special small birds in the reedbeds, as Savi’s, Sedge and Moustashed Warblers. This is another good site to see several subspecies of the Yellow Wagtail and the Citrine Wagtail.

We will have good chances to see the Syrian Woodpecker in the gardens and parks in the local settlements.

Day 8
Travel back south to Varna or Bourgas for departure.
On the way, if the flight is late in the day, we will stop either at Varna Lake, riverine forests around Varna or at Bourgas lakes, depending on the target birds we have missed or have not seen well in the previous days.

Dalmatian Pelican & White Pelican by Johan Oli Hilmarsson_winter photography
Dalmatian Pelican and White Pelican by Johan Oli Hilmarsson

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