Tour At A Glance

Cost:

1699.00

Deposit:

350.00

Single Room Supplement:

125.00

Tour Code:

Fairly Relaxed with some early mornings

Group Size:

Six plus Leaders

Semi-collared Flycatcher Egyptian Vulture Levant Sparrowhawk Night Heron Pied Wheatear Lesser Spotted Eagle Red-breasted Flycatcher

Bulgaria - Brilliant Balkan Birding!

Date: 6th - 15th May 2019 [FULL]
Leaders: Steve Cale and Dimiter Georgiev

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE

Fly London/Sofia, where we meet our guide and transfer to our hotel in the Central Rodopi Mountains. Transfer southeast to the Western Rhodope Mountains (incl. 2 ½ to 3 hours driving) with several stops on the way for birding. The species we expect to see en route include Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, European Bee-eater, Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Corn Bunting, Black-headed Bunting and Rock Bunting.  Accommodation in the area of Trigrad for two nights – hotel Orpheus in the small village of Teshel, situated in a deep valley, not far from the Trigrad Gorge. In the vicinity of the hotel we could see the Crag Martin, White-throated Dipper, Black Redstart, European Serin, Marsh Tit, plus we will have very good chances to observe the Balkan Chamois on the rocks surrounding the hotel. Overnight Hotel Orpheus.

 

DAY TWO

After an early breakfast, we'll check out and head for the magnificent Trigrad Gorge. The first thing that impresses the visitor are the towering cliffs and the deep rocky valley, where the meandering Trigrad river can be seen. Strange trees of a local subspecies of Black Pine grow right out of the rocks where there is no soil for their roots. All the time we cannot help but stand in awe before nature’s grandeur. This is only a poor and sketchy description of this extraordinary place with its caverns and the rumble of its waterfalls and the beauty of the gorge is quite extraordinary.  This has been a traditional place to observe Wallcreeper for many years - unfortunately the birds recently deserted the site, and we do not know if they will be present in 2019 wehen we visit - but we will certainly look! Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Peregrine Falcon, White-throated Dipper, Black Redstart might also be expected. Following lunch, we will travel to the town of Kroumovgrad along a slow road. The habitats are constantly changing as we go. Coniferous forests are replaced by mixed and afterwards by pure deciduous stands, and the trees become smaller and stunted. Eventually, they become shrubs and bare rocky hills and finally the huge basalt cliffs. The world of the large birds of prey lies before us… but that is for another day. There are good opportunities here to watch Black Stork, European Honey Buzzard, Corncrake, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker,  Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Firecrest & Ortolan Bunting.

Overnight at Divna Hotel

 

DAY THREE

The next visit is to the Studen Kladenetz region close to Kroumovgrad. This area is of ancient volcanic origin with stony ground, huge rocks scattered around, small stunted shrubs and an almost complete lack of wild growing mature trees. This part of the Eastern Rodopi Mountains  is well known as one of  Europe’s most important regions for birds of prey. We will spend all day birding around here and hopefully will see Golden, Eastern Imperial, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Black, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, as well as species such as Pallid Swift, Western Rock Nuthatch, Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Lesser Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Sombre Tit, Cirl, Black-headed and Ortolan Buntings, Barred, Subalpine, Sardinian and Orphean Warblers.

Overnight at Divna Hotel.

 

DAY FOUR

Birdwatching in the Eastern Rhodopes, visiting the Studen Kladenets and Madzharovo regions, exploring a similar  variety of habitats like in the afternoon of the previous day.Main birds to be seen in the Eastern Rhodopes within these two days here include the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Booted, Short-toed and Golden eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Eleonora’s Falcon, Black Stork, Chukar, Scops Owl (requires evening walk in the town park after dinner), Black-eared Wheatear (the eastern race ssp. melanoleuca), Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Bonelli's, Eastern Orphean, Olive-tree, Eastern Subalpine and Olivaceous warblers, Lesser Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Ortolan & Black-headed Buntings.

 

DAY FIVE

Transfer to the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, with a long stop in Sakar Hills – located approximately in mid-way between the Eastern Rhodopes and the coast, by the border with Turkey. It is an area of rounded hills and open valleys. The higher parts are covered with broad-leaved forests, while most of the area is a step-like grassland with scattered trees, bushes and agricultural land.  Some of the rivers form steep valleys with beautiful cliffs.  The whole region is thinly populated with poorly developed network of roads and a few small settlements. Here we will be looking for the Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser Kestrel, Masked Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear, Ortolan Bunting, Eastern Orphean Warbler and Olive-tree Warbler. We will also see a lot of European Rollers, European Bee-eaters, Hoopoes and Black-headed Buntings here, plus colonies of European Souslik - a small and cute rodent living in burrows in the local pastures.

The accommodation for the next two nights will be in the town of Sozopol, situated on the Black Sea coast - to the south of Bourgas.
 

DAY SIX

We will spend the whole day exploring the wetlands around Bourgas – Mandra Lake,  Vaya Lake and Atanasovsko Lake Salt-pans. Key species to be seen at Bourgas wetlands include all the species of European herons, Little Bittern,  Eurasian  Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Pygmy Cormorant, White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Gull-billed Tern,  Cetti`s Warbler, Penduline Tit and other migrating & non-breeding waders, gulls and terns.

In the morning, possibly before breakfast, we can visit the marshlands and flooded forests in the Ropotamo river nature complex, a short distance from the hotel. There we will have good chances to see the Little Bittern, Black Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Great Reed Warbler, Hawfinch, Golden Oriole and other water and forest birds.
 

DAY SEVEN

Transfer to the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast (Coastal Dobrudzha). On the way north we will firstly stop for birding at Pomorie Lake salt-pans, which is one of the best sites for waders and shore-birds in this time of the year. Then we will make several stops in the oak forests of the Eastern Balkan Mountains  and the riverine flooded forests of Kamchia Nature Reserve. The bird species likely to be seen in both sites include the Lesser Spotted Eagle, Black Stork, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Wryneck, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Barred Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Sombre Tit and Hawfinch.
In the end of the day, before going to the hotel  - we will stop at one of our reliable sites for observing the Eurasian Eagle Owl. The accommodation for the next two nights will be in the area of the town of Kavarna – hotel Venera facing the Black Sea. Birds to be seen in the vicinity of the hotel include the Syrian Woodpecker, Alpine Swift, Golden Oriole, Red-rumped Swallow and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.

 

DAY EIGHT
Today we will explore Coastal Dobrudzha. This is the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black sea coast. The relief is plain, rolling gradually towards the coastal sand dunes and wetlands. Cape Kaliakra is the southern limit of this geographic area. The sea cliff there towers up to 70 m. Here are the last remnants of the Great Steppe, formerly occupying the bigger part of the region. In the morning we will visit the coastal lakes of Durankulak and Shabla.  Here we will be able to see a big variety of water birds, incl. the Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Marsh Harrier, Paddyfield Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Bearded Reedling, the tick-billed race of the Common Reed Bunting (ssp. reiseri) and various species of herons, gulls, terns, shore-birds, plus European Rollers, European)Bee-eaters, Lesser Grey and Red-backed Shrikes in the surrounding areas.
In the afternoon we will visit the steppes and cliffs around Cape Kaliakra, where we can observe the Mediterranean subspecies of the European Shag (ssp. desmarestii), Long-legged Buzzard, Stone Curlew, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Greater Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Pied Wheatear and Black-headed Bunting. 

 

DAY NINE

Today we will be driving back west (incl. ~ 5 to 6 hours driving) - to the Central Balkan Mnts where we can spend the afternoon exploring old beech forests on the northern slopes of the mountains. Here we could see the Red-breasted Flycatcher, White-backed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker and other forest birds. Overnight in small hotel located in the foot of the mountains.

 

DAY TEN

Transfer (~ 2 hours)  to Sofia for departure. If the flight time permits we will visit Vitosha Mountains in the southern vicinity of Sofia, targeting the Spotted Nutcracker, Firecrest, Ring Ouzel and Willow Tit. Arrival back into the UK where the tour will conclude.

 

Additional Information

 

WHATS INCLUDED
Return flights London/Sofia, nine nights accommodation, all meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on day ten, services of leaders, all transport in Bulgaria and reserve entrance fees.
 
NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/from London airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.
 
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit www.masta-travel-health.com to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. 
 

 

 

Tour Reports

 

2015

 

Testimonials

 

" I really enjoyed the holiday - the variety of birds and landscapes were wonderful and the hotels were better than anticipated. The guides were excellent " P R Kent

 

" On the whole, this was a very enjoyable tour. Bulgaria is a beautiful country " L V Sussex.

 

" This was a great trip where we saw or heard many different species but it was the quality rather than the quantity that was the main highlight. Nikolay and his assistant's knowledge of the birds and their habitats was fantastic and the food and the accommodations very good" J M K Dublin

 

" What a great tour this was. I especially liked the small group size and the easy going but very professional apprach of Nikolay and his asistant Pancho" G C Watford.

 

" The whole trip provided great company. Nikolay's knowledge was extansive and included plants and butterflies and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Oriole Birding to others - in fact I did on Sunday!! " J C Glamorgan

 

"I really enjoyed the opportunity to witness the great variety of scenery, habitats and culture of Bulgaria. The accommodations and meals were better than expected and the pre-tour informastion ensured a very easy, hassle free journey. Nikolay and Pancho were brilliant and it is hard to see how the trip could have been bettered " M L Middlesex

 

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