A 14-days tour in search of dragonflies and damselfies.

Dragonflies of Bulgaria

Wednesday 7th - Tuesday 20th June 2017

Sixty seven species of dragonflies are recorded in Bulgaria up to now - a considerable part of the total European number. This variety is determined by the geographical position of the country as well as the well preserved habitat around the many wetlands that exist here. Within our tour we should see more between forty and fifty species, including rare and endangered species. The pick of these will be; Bulgarian emerald, odalisque, black pennant, bladetail and Turkish goldenring. The tour has now been extended, with one full day in Greece, where Lake Kerkini will offer not only more special dragonflies, but also excellent birding. Overall we have widened the focus of this holiday out to butterflies and birds. Needless to say due to the well preserved habitats in Bulgaria, almost all of the prime dragonfly sites here are also excellent spots for birds and butterflies. We will be able to see not less than a hundred species of butterfly and over a hundred and fifty species of bird. Among them will be; eastern imperial eagle, Levant sparrowhawk, wallcreeper, both pelicans and many more. While the butterflies will be represented by; purple emperor, Freyer's purple emperor, Apollo, Camberwell beauty, Balkan copper, little tiger blue, large chequered skipper and many more. This will be a slow paced, relaxed holiday, with time enough during easy to moderate walks to enjoy, admire and explore nature. We will be covering the whole of southern Bulgaria, making our way through the mountains from west to the east, reaching the Black sea. The two weeks of the holiday will bring many highlights, with memorable sightings of wildlife as we build an excellent all round checklist of what these two countries can offer.


Itinerary

Day 1  Arrival at Sofia airport and transfer to town of Melnik, where we overnight for two nights. Along the road will make a short exploration stop at Kresna Gorge where we expect to see among others; beautiful and banded Demoiselles, Common Clubtail and Sombre Goldenring. Butteflies will be Krupper's Small White, Little Tiger and Chequered Blues.

Day 2 Today we explore the area near Struma River and here we expect: Eastern Willow Spreadwing, variable Blue-eye, and Small Red-eyed Damselflies, Green-eyed and Blue-eyed Hawkers, River Clubtail, Scarce Chaser and Whitetailed Skimmer, Scarlet, Southern, Red-veined and Marshland Darters, and other species. This region is the only known Bulgarian locality for Black Pennant and the recently discovered Bladetail. Birds will include Rock Nuthatch, Black Stork, Masked Shrike and Levant Sparrowhawk. While the butterflies will be represented by Freyer's Purple Emperor, Map butterfly, both Gliders etc. Evening, free program in the town - an architectural reserve with several houses designated as culture's monuments. The region is also famous with its excellent local wine. What a start to the trip!


Day 3 Day at the foothills of Pirin and Alibotush Mts in searching for Balkan Goldenring, Eastern Spectre, Southern Skimmer and other species. This region is also famous with great number of butterfly species - more than 70 species occurs here - all the Anomalous Blues, Purple- shot Copper, Balkan Marbled White, Hermit etc. In the evening we will cross the border into Greece and soon after will accommodate in an excellent lake view hotel, situated between Belasitsa Mountain and Lake Kerkini.

Day 4 We will explore the area for Balkan Goldenring, Bladetail, Black Pennant and Whitetailed Skimmer. Butterflies may include Iolas Blue, Eastern Baton Blue, Balkan Grayling, Eastern Knapweed Fritillary, Zephyr Blue, Mediterranean Skipper. If time permits we will check the river valley for Freyer's Grayling, Sandy Grizzle Skipper, Persian Skipper, Southern White Admiral, Hermit, Anomalous Blue and Grecian Anomalous Blue. There will be a variety of birds at the lake too.

Day 5 After returning to Bulgaria, we will head to Trigrad gorge in Western Rhodope Mountain with several stops on the way for Balkan Goldenring, Banded Darter and Yellow-winged Darter; Green-eyed Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Downy Emerald, Broad-bodied Chaser and Scarlet Darter. We arrive in the gorge, which is famous for its wallcreepers, other birds are Rock Bunting, Black Woodpecker, Alpine Swift. Our hotel is situated in a village ten minutes from the gorge. Accommodation and dinner.


Day 6 Morning walk for Apollo, Chequered Skipper, Balkan Copper, and another look at the wallcreepers. Latter on we continue east to the town of Krumovgrad with longer stops on the way to see Northern Damselfly, Downy Emerald, Four-spotted and Scarce Chaser, Blue-eyed Hawker and many others, also nutcracker. Lunch on the way and late in the afternoon we arrive in the hotel, where we have three overnights.

Day 7 Day trip to Krumovitsa and Arda river valleys for Small Red-eyed and Dainty Damselfly, Odalisque, Eastern Spectre, Balkan Emerald, Lesser Emperor, Southern Darter, plus many more. Many butterflies will be seen too. We will also enjoy Rock Nuthatch, Orphean, Sardinian and Olive-tree Warblers, Nightingale, Black Stork, Levant Sparrowhawk, Black-eared Wheatear (both western and eastern races), Wryneck, Roller, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Chukar and many others. Great Spotted Cuckoo is also possible. Late in the evening, after dinner we look for the Tiny Scops Owl in the poplar trees around our hotel.

Day 8 Day trip to Biala reka river valley for Blue-eye, Small red-eyed and Dainty Damselfly, Scarce, Southern and Western Willow Spreadwing, Bulgarian and Balkan Emeralds, Turkish Goldenring, Eastern Spectre, Blue-eyed Hawker, Ruddy Darter and many more. Fritillary and Blue butterflies will add to the variety, while birds will be Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

Day 9 Transfer to the Black Sea coast with two stops on the way (Madzhari and Harmali). Possible species: Southern, Small and Eastern Willow Spreadwing, Blue-eye, Dainty, Ornate and Winter Damselfly, River and Common Clubtails, Lesser Emperor, White-tailed and Southern Skimmer, Scarlet, Southern and Red-veined Darters and Scarce Chaser. We arrive in our hotel late in the afternoon for four nights. Eastern imperial and Lesser-spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Olive-tree Warbler and many other birds will be seen. Accommodation for 3 nights, just outside of Burgas.

Day 10 Today we explore Burgas wetlands. Here we can expect more than twenty species of dragonfly including Southern and Dark Spreadwing, Winter, Dainty, Blue-eye Damselfly, Greeneyed Hawker, Lesser Emperor, Vagrant Emperor, White-tailed Skimmer, Scarlet and Southern Darter and Black Pennant. Birds will include White-tailed Eagle, Gull-billed, Black, White-winged and Whiskered Terns, Mediterranean and Slender-billed Gulls, Ruddy Shelduck, Little Bittern, Penduline Tit and many more.

Day 11 Drive south where we will visit several protected areas and coastal wetlands - marshes and river mouths near the Black Sea coast. Species include Small, Western and Eastern Willow Spreadwing, Lesser and Vagrant Emperor, Blueeyed and Turkish Goldenring, Balkan Emerald, Scarce Chaser, Keeled Skimmer and Red-veined Darter. Butterflies will include Balkan Green-veined White, Iolas Blue, Lattice Brown, Freyer's Purple Emperor, Tree and Freyer's Graylings, Southern White Admiral and Camberwell Beauty. Picnic lunch on the coast. Back to our hotel in the evening.

Day 12 Today we will explore Strandja Mt looking for Odalisque, Blue-eye Damselfly, Southern Migrant Hawker, Small Pincertail, Eastern Spectre, Turkish Goldenring and many more. Not to forget butterflies: Large Chequered Skipper, Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell, Lesser-spotted Fritillary. Birds will include Semi-collared Flycatcher, Hawfinch and many other woodland species.

Day 13 Transfer to Gabarevo for the final night-stay with two stops on the way. Species we will look for are Southern Migrant Hawker, Eastern Spectre, Small Pincertail, Balkan and Sombre Goldenrings.

Day 14 Transfer to Sofia with possible stops, if time permitting.



TOUR MAP




PHOTOS


Caliaeschna microstigma

   Eastern Spectre by Mario Langourov.

Cordulegaster heros

   Balkan Goldenring by Mario Langourov.

Cordulegaster picta

   Turkish Goldenring by Mario Langourov.

Crocothemis erythraea

   Scarlet Darter by Mario Langourov.

Sympetrum fonscolombii

   Red-veined Darter by Mario Langourov.