An utterly rewarding trip to Eastern Europe, designed for birders keen enough to neglect the cold! Our 4-day tour is focused on the region of the two coastal lakes of Shabla and Durankulak, which form the main roost of the Red-breasted Goose. There we will watch the spectacle of the flocks’ early morning take-off for the feeding grounds, then follow them to have a closer view. While inspecting the flocks of Red-breasted and White-fronted Geese we regularly spot the Lesser White-fronted Goose too.
The tour starts from Varna at 09.00 h in the morning at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Varna Airport, as they are kindly requested to arrive there until 9.00 a.m., or from their accommodation place within the city of Varna, if they have arrived earlier. Transfer north to Coastal Dobrudzha (~ one hour driving) to explore Durankulak and Shabla Lakes in search of the Red-breasted Geese.
Days 2 & 3
Exploring the lakes of Durankulak and Shabla and the steppes of Kaliakra.
We will spend these two days in the Coastal Dobroudzha – the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near the Romanian border, including the lakes of Shabla and Durankulak, where the geese roost. Early in the morning we will watch the geese “take off” – every day they leave the lakes and fly inland to feed in the winter crop fields around. The numbers of Red-breasted Goose vary between 5000 and 50000, depending on how severe the winter is.
While enjoying the Red-breasted Geese, we will also search for the Lesser White-fronted Goose. Usually checking the huge flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese is very productive and the Lesser White-fronted Goose can be spotted and identified. The winter wheat and rape fields in the area also host flocks of foraging Whooper Swans and Bewick’s Swans. The White-tailed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Merlin, as well as the Great Bittern are common winter residents here. There are also good chances for viewing Greater Spotted Eagle, Saker Falcon, Caspian Gull and Pallas’s Gull at the lakes.
Offshore we can expect to see Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-crested Pochardand Greater Scaup.
One of these days we will also explore Cape Kaliakra – sheer cliffs towering up to 100 m above the seawater. There we can expect to see the Mediterranean race of the European Shag (ssp. desmarestii), Eurasian Eagle Owl and various sea waterfowl. The adjacent steppe area hosts wintering Calandra Larks, Merlins, Long-legged Buzzards, etc. Rough-legged Buzzard, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Little Owl and Syrian Woodpecker can also be easily observed around.
Transfer to Varna with possible stops on the way at Baltata Riverine Forest for woodpeckers: Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Eurasian Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers as well as Short-toed Treecreeper, Hawfinch and other resident songbirds, and/or Varna Lakes for waterbirds, such as Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Black-throated Diver, Black-necked Grebe, Smew, Red-breasted Merganser, Greater Scaup, Caspian Gull, Pallas’s Gull, etc. Departure from Varna Airport.