A 10-days birding holiday in search of wintering birds along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

Bulgaria in Winter

Saturday 13th - Monday 22nd February 2021

Because of its mild winter, the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is a haunt for many birds, which winter here in their thousands. For several species Bulgaria is the best place to see them, especially during this time of the year. Foremost among them is the spectacular Red-breasted Goose. In January and February almost the whole world population is concentrated here. Other attractive species wintering in big numbers are the Pygmy Cormorant, the White-headed Duck and the Dalmatian Pelican. Additionally, we have a good chance for real rarities, such as Lesser White-fronted Goose, Spotted Eagle and the Great Black-headed Gull.
After running this tour for more than fifteen years, we have now extended it with two days in the mountains, looking primary for the elusive Hazel Grouse. It is a very attractive and not an easy species but we will be in its prime habitat, which gives us excellent chances to see it, plus other forest species.
We expect well over 100 bird species in our check-list, plus mammals such as Wild Cat, Golden Jackal and Common Otter. This holiday will be on a relaxing pace, with plenty of time looking for birds.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Arrival at Sofia airport and two hours transfer will bring us to the Rhodopes Mountain, near Batak dam where we stay the first two nights.

Days 2 and 3 Both days we will explore the woodlands nearby trying to locate the Hazel Grouses by their calls, then approach them to get closer views. We have to be quiet when doing so, as this will maximize our chances. Other species we expect are Black Woodpecker, Crested Tit, Crossbill, possibly a White-backed Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Tengmalm`s and Pygmy owls and Capercaillie, Sombre Tit, Rock Bunting, Long-legged Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Peregrine etc. In the afternoon of the second day we will drive to Pomorie where we stay for three nights.

Days 4 and 5 We spend both days exploring Burgas wetlands which are important Ramsar sites and IBAs. We will also visit some wetlands further south. Meanwhile, we enjoy viewing species like Great Black-headed Gull, Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, White-headed Duck, Smew, Red-crested Pochard, Pintail, Spoonbill, White-tailed Eagle, Bittern, Bearded Reedling, Caspian Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, etc. Some early waders such as Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank and Curlew will be already here too. The deciduous forests around the lakes can provide several species of woodpeckers - Grey-headed, Syrian, Middle and Lesser Spotted and other birds, such as Sombre Tit, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting etc. The wetlands support a healthy population of Common Otters and the winter is the best time to see them out in the open.

Day 6  After breakfast we head north, with several stops and lunch on the way. Goritsa hills will provide another opportunity for woodpeckers, including White-backed and Black, plus other woodland birds. Late in the afternoon we reach Durankulak village where we will stay the next three nights.

Days 7 to 9 These days we will explore Durankulak and Shabla lakes, as well as the surrounding wheat fields where the geese feed. Beside our main goal - the Red-breasted Goose flocks, we will carefully check the White-fronted Geese flocks as it may reward us with Lesser White-fronted Goose. Other birds will be Bean and Graylag geese, Black-necked and Red-necked grebes, Black-throated and Red-throated divers, Syrian Woodpecker, Rough-legged and Long-legged buzzards, Hen Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Goshawk, Merlin, Peregrine and the powerful Saker Falcon. We also stand a good chance for the Spotted Eagle. Passerines will include Bearded Reedling, Moustached Warbler, Calandra and Crested larks, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Hawfinch and many more. We will also visit some rocky areas in order to find the majestic Eagle Owl. In the late afternoon of the last day we will drive to Veliko Tarnovo where we will stay overnight.

Day10  Three hours transfer brings to Sofia airport for your flight back home. En-route, we shall have few more birding stops. Departure.

TOUR MAP


PHOTOS


Birding tour

Bulgaria in winter - cold, but sunny!

Dalmatian pelicans

The adult Dalmatian pelicans will have their bills bright red coloured!
   Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Geese

The observation of the huge geese flocks is unforgettable experience.
   Photo by Emil Enchev.

Grey headed Woodpecker

Grey-headed Woodpecker by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Mixed flock

Mixed flock of Red-breasted and White-fronted Geese. Photo Emil Enchev.

Otter

The Otter is easier to be seen when the wetlands are frozen. Photo by Dobromir Domuschiev.

Red breasted Goose

Red-breasted Goose by Emil Enchev.

Sombre Tit

Sombre Tit by John Sheppard.

Dalmatian Pelican by Dobromir Domuschiev

Middle Spotted Woodpecker by Dobromir Domuschiev