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BirdID course in Bulgaria 2015: bird migration

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What a day!  Another superb birding day in Bulgaria. We started in a woodland and ended by the coast.

The day started at about 6.30 a.m. when some members of the group were already out taking pictures of Lesser-spotted and Middle spotted Woodpeckers. Semi-collared Flycatcher was pretty abundant in the area and it was our main bird to see. We enjoyed its song for a long time when a member of our group noticed an unusual behaviour of a bird. It was a dark bird that was hopping on the track without paying attention to 10 birders about 5 m away from it. It was a Thrush Nightingale. Superb views. Never seen it this well for so long. It’s always been in a bush and rather skulking. In the woodland we also added Wood Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Lark and Black Woodpecker.

After a nice breakfast with grilled sandwitches with ham and cheese we left our hotel. At our first encounter with water we stopped for 5 min and saw our first White and Dalmatian Pelicans. It was great to see them together for bird id training purposes. A distant group of White Pelicans showed their id features to be remembered when seen from a distance.

About 10 min later driving along the road I noticed that there is intense bird migration and decided to stop the van. Well, this was one of the most superb moments in the last months that I have been birding. One after the other birds started flying overhead. A group of 50+ Black Storks, was accompanied by 50+ Lesser-spotted Eagles, 20+ Honey Buzzards, 10+ Common Buzzards, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, and Steppe Buzzard. An adult White tailed Eagle made a show with fish in its talons. Short toed eagles also didn’t want to stay behind and joined a group. At certain point we had a flock of more than five species at the same time. What an experience. “I have never seen anything like this in my whole life”, said one of the participants in the group with the longest experience. In a while the bird migration stopped so we decided to go to a planned stop for some waterfowl.

Around the lakes we noted our first 30+ Glossy Ibises, Purple Herons, Night Heron, and more migrating birds of prey. Later on the bird migration continued with more Lesser-spotted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles, Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, and Levant sparrowhawks. What a day!

After lunch we took a walk around the Poda reserve, managed by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. We enjoyed two pairs of Red-crested Pochards and the very desired Pygmy Cormorants. A Long-eared Owl had a nest next to a heronry with Spoonbills, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Night Heron and Pygmy Cormorants.

What a fantastic day. We listed 115 species just today. Everybody in the group was rather excited by the great success of the day. We had more than 200 Lesser spotted Eagles and 11 species of raptor.

Here is the full checklist of birds seen today:

1.Mute Swan
2.Common Shelduck
5.Northern Shoveler
7.Red-crested Pochard
8.Common Pochard
9.Ferruginous Duck
10.Little Grebe
11.Great Crested Grebe
12.Black Stork
13.White Stork
14.Great Cormorant
15.Pygmy Cormorant
16.Great White Pelican
17.Dalmatian Pelican
18.Grey Heron
19.Purple Heron
20.Great Egret
21.Little Egret
22.Squacco Heron
23.Black-crowned Night-Heron
24.Glossy Ibis
25.Eurasian Spoonbill
26.European Honey-buzzard
27.Short-toed Eagle
28.Lesser Spotted Eagle
29.Booted Eagle
30.Eurasian Marsh-Harrier
31.Montagu’s Harrier
32.Levant Sparrowhawk
33.Eurasian Sparrowhawk
34.White-tailed Eagle
35.Common Buzzard
36.Long-legged Buzzard
37.Eurasian Moorhen
38.Eurasian Coot
39.Black-winged Stilt
40.Eurasian Oystercatcher
41.Little Ringed Plover
42.Common Sandpiper
43.Common Redshank
44.Black-headed Gull
45.Mediterranean Gull
46.Yellow-legged Gull
47.Caspian Gull
48.Little Tern
49.White-winged Black Tern
50.Common Tern
51.Sandwich Tern
52.Rock Pigeon
53.European Turtle-Dove
54.Eurasian Collared-Dove
55.Common Cuckoo
56.Long-eared Owl
57.Common Swift
58.European Bee-eater
59.European Roller
60.Eurasian Hoopoe
61.Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
62.Middle Spotted Woodpecker
63.Great Spotted Woodpecker
64.Black Woodpecker
66.Eurasian Kestrel
67.Eurasian Hobby
68.Red-backed Shrike
69.Lesser Gray Shrike
70.urasian Golden Oriole
72.Eurasian Nuthatch
73.Short-toed Treecreeper
75.Common Chiffchaff
76.Wood Warbler
77.Eurasian Reed-Warbler
78.Great Reed-Warbler
80.Greater Whitethroat
81.Spotted Flycatcher
82.European Robin
83.Thrush Nightingale
84.Common Nightingale
85.Semicollared Flycatcher
86.Common Redstart
87.Eurasian Blackbird
88.Song Thrush
89.Mistle Thrush
91.White Wagtail
92.Cirl Bunting
93.Black-headed Bunting
94.Reed Bunting
95.Corn Bunting
96.Common Chaffinch
97.European Greenfinch
98.European Goldfinch
100.House Sparrow
101.Spanish Sparrow
102.Barn swallow
103.Red-rumped Swallow
104.Houses martin
108.Hooded Crow
109.Crested Lark
110.Great Tit
111.Blue tit
114.Marsh Tit
115.Steppe Buzzard

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