This tour gives a great opportunity to see all the nine resident species of woodpeckers, occurring in Europe, plus some elusive species of owls and grouse staying high in the wish-list of many birders.
The tour starts from Sofia at 14.00 h in the afternoon at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Sofia Airport, if they arrive there before 14.00 h (2 p.m.), or from their accommodation place in the city of Sofia, if they have arrived earlier. Then we drive for one hour and a half southeast to the eastern part of the Rila Mountains, where we stay for the next two nights.
We will spend the whole day in the coniferous forests of the Rila Mountains, where we will be searching for the Eurasian Pygmy Owl and Hazel Grouse, as well as for Three-toed Woodpecker (ssp. alpinus), Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker. The other mountain species that we may expect to see there include Spotted Nutcracker, Ring Ouzel (ssp. alpestris), Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Common Firecrest, Common Crossbill, etc.
Transfer to the southern part of the Western Rhodope Mountains. On the way we will check a few places for Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Three-toed Woodpecker (ssp. alpinus), Black Woodpecker and Grey-headed Woodpecker. If we are lucky, we may even see the elusive Tengmalm‘s Owl. Accommodation in the area for two nights.
Morning walk in conifer and deciduous forests with very good chances to see Hazel Grouse, Grey-headed Woodpecker and Black Woodpecker. Next we can visit some of the picturesque gorges in this area to try our chances to see the Wallcreeper. Other interesting birds we may expect to see there include Peregrine Falcon, Spotted Nutcracker, White-throated Dipper, Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Common Firecrest, Eurasian Bullfinch.
Transfer north to the Central Balkan National Park. In the evening we will search for Tawny Owl in the old beech forests around.
Accommodation in the area of the Central Balkan for two nights.
The whole day we will explore the area of the Central Balkan National Park. Here our target species will be the White-backed Woodpecker (ssp. lilfordi) and the Rock Partridge. We can also expect to see the Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
Transfer to the Western Balkan Mountains. On the way we will check a few areas for Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Eurasian Eagle Owl.
Accommodation in the Western Balkan area for two nights.
We will spend a full day in the Western Balkan Mountains searching for the Rock Partridge and again, we will try to find those species of birds, which we have missed or not seen well in the previous days. Some of the species of birds likely to be seen here include the White-backed Woodpecker (ssp. lilfordi), Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Alpine Chough, Golden Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting.