A week of excellent birding with many Eastern European specialties.

Via Pontica - Late Autumn Migration

This tour gives you the opportunity to see more than 140 bird species and to witness the spectacular autumn migration on the Black Sea coast. Along it is the second biggest migration route in Europe - Via Pontica. Every autumn more than 90 000 raptors, 30 000 pelicans, 240 000 storks as well as thousands of waders and passerines fly over this way to their wintering grounds. The Bulgarian Black Sea coast and especially its southern part is a "bottle-neck" for the migrating birds from all Eastern Europe, also Scandinavia and Russia. Thats why it is likely to see more than 10 000 storks, 3 000 pelicans or 2 000 Lesser Spotted eagles just in a single day. Our main observation points will be several wetlands along the Black Sea coast - designated as Ramsar sites and IBAs. The itineraries for both dates differ in way that the second tour will not visit the northern coats, but will explore only the Burgas wetlands and use just one hotel for the entire holiday. The other difference between them is that the first period is more suitable for waders, terns and storks, while the second period is characterized with more intensive raptor and passerine migration.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival at Varna airport followed by one hour transfer to Shabla village where we will be based for the next three nights. Accommodation and if the time permits, short walk in the surroundings where we can see waders warblers, shrikes and buntings.

Day 2 Today we will explore Durankulak and Shabla lakes at our leisure - both are important step stones for all migrating species. Here we will see White and Dalmatian pelicans, Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorant, herons, terns, passerines, raptors and of course many waders - Marsh, Curlew, Wood and Broad-billed sandpipers, Red-necked
Phalarope etc.

Day 3 This day will be devoted to the area of Kaliakra steppe reserve - the last remaining steppe habitat in Bulgaria. The steppe is lifted at more than 100 m above the sea, and the vertical cliffs create not only picturesque view, but also very favourable conditions for the soaring migrants - storks and pelicans, as well as raptors - Red-footed Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Honey Buzzard and possibly all the harriers. Additionally, gulls and terns, as well as thousands of passerines follow the migration road. We will also catch local breeders like Stone Curlew, Calandra and Short-toed larks, Isabelline and Pied wheatears, Eagle Owl and many more.

Day 4 Today we move south. Our first stop will be at forest hill where we can see several species of woodpeckers - White-backed, Middle and Lesser Spotted woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreeper and other woodland species. After a lunch here we continue south, visiting Pomorie Lake where numerous waders, terns and passerines rest and feed. In the evening we arrive in our hotel in Pomorie where we stay for the next four nights.

Days 5 and 6 Both days we spend around Burgas wetlands. Here we will enjoy numerous migrating Lesser Spotted and Short-toed eagles, Red-footed falcons, Levant sparrowhawks, harriers, Hobbies, as well as White-tailed eagle and Osprey. The gulls include - Mediterranean, Slender- billed, Little and Yellow-legged, several species of terns and ducks will be also seen. These wetlands are real paradise for the waders, so a lot of species in considerable numbers will be also seen  includning Terek, Broad-billed, Marsh and Curlew sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Spotted Redshank, Temnicks Stint and many more.

Day 7 Today we visit Strandja Mountain, as the deciduous forests here are excellent habitat for woodland birds. We expect to see White-backed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Grey-headed, Black, Green, and Great Spotted woodpeckers. Other species may well include Red-breasted and Semi-collared flycatchers, Hawfinch, Hoopoe and Cirl Bunting. On the way we visit two more coastal wetlands for Pygmy Cormorant, Little Grebe, Squacco and Purple herons, Garganey, Teal and again many waders. Back to our hotel in Pomorie for the last night.

Day 8 Transfer to Varna airport with several stops for birding, depending on your return flight. Departure.



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