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BirdID course in Bulgaria 2015: imperial eagle

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Masked Shrike © Iordan Hristov

What a superb day. We started with a well desired Black-headed Bunting which walk me up when I first opened the balcony door of my room. Later on with logged Rock Bunting, Sombre Tit, Subalpine Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush and Lesser spotted Woodpecker. At lunch time we had a splendid stop for imperial eagle, Masked Shrike, Olive-tree Warbler and we ended the day with superb views of Semi-collared Flycatcher and Common Redstart. What a day this was.

Once I woke up I decided to open the balcony door. There was thick mist which was a bit disappointing. However in the next moment a Black-headed Bunting called. This made the morning really bright. The students will like to see and hear this bird so I quickly went down the stairs. After breakfast we all managed to see this well wanted bird and departed to our next destination.

It was meant to be a place for Rock Nuthatch but had a few other specialities that were on the list: Rock Bunting, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Blue Rock Thrush, Sombre Tit and Subalpine warbler. Fantastic stop. The fog cleared off so we were ready to go to the high cliffs. Before that I wanted us to stop and try for some woodland birds. This would give some more time to the mist. We visited the forest next to the visitor centre of BSPB in the Eastern Rhodopes where our main target was Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler. We struggled a little bit but managed to see it and departed. It was going to be an intense day and we had some good stops along the way.

Shortly after departure we stopped again. This was out last chance to check for Rock Nuthatch but again no luck. Something is going on with this species and no one knows nothing about it. We carried on to a place where we wanted to see more local specialities: Masked Shrike and Olive-tree warbler. In an hour we were at the site excited by the views of Masked Shrike. More than two birds were showing well and singing occasionally to a surprise of my guests from Norway. The Olive-tree Warbler was a bit more skulking but some of us managed to get a glimpse of it. Again time to depart.

Masked Shrike © Iordan Hristov

Masked Shrike © Iordan Hristov

This time the highlight will be the imperial eagle. We stopped at a well known site which i will not reveal for purely ethical reasons. At the site we met a few of my bird id students from previous and current years. It was great to meet the local and international students. I think especially the Norwegians appreciated it very much. While having picnic lunch an adult Eastern Imperial Eagle turned up. It was rather distant but with a scope we could see all the necessary id features. Fantastic bird.

Imperial eagle seems to be increasing in Bulgaria in the last several years and more pairs are being found. Hopefully we shall more of these splendid birds in the future. Along the way to the hotel we stopped at a checked location for Montagu’s Harrier. Both male and female were sitting not far from the road allowing us some really good views.

Once we arrived at the hotel everyone was still willing to continue birding regardless of the intense day. We did a short walk around the area and saw our first Semi-collared flycatcher, Common Redstart, Wood lark and other birds. What a day. We ended up with 95 species of birds for the day. Here is the full checklist of the seen birds:

1. Mallard
2.Black Stork
3.White Stork
4.Great Cormorant
5.Grey Heron
6.Egyptian Vulture
7.Eurasian Griffon
8.Short-toed Eagle
9.Lesser Spotted Eagle
10.Booted Eagle
11.Imperial Eagle
12.Montagu’s Harrier
13.Eurasian Sparrowhawk
14.Common Buzzard
15.Long-legged Buzzard
16.Yellow-legged Gull
17.Rock Pigeon
18.European Turtle-Dove
19.Eurasian Collared-Dove
20.Common Cuckoo
21.Little Owl
22.Alpine Swift
23.European Bee-eater
24.European Roller
25.Eurasian Hoopoe
26.Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
27.Great Spotted Woodpecker
28.Syrian Woodpecker
30.Eurasian Kestrel
31.Peregrine Falcon
32.Red-backed Shrike
33.Lesser Gray Shrike
34.Masked Shrike
35.Woodchat Shrike
36.Eurasian Golden Oriole
37.Eurasian Nuthatch
38.Short-toed Treecreeper
39.Common Chiffchaff
40.Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler
44.Barred Warbler
45.Lesser Whitethroat
46.Eastern Orphean Warbler
47.Subalpine Warbler
48.Greater Whitethroat
49.Spotted Flycatcher
50.European Robin
51.Common Nightingale
52.Semicollared Flycatcher
53.Common Redstart
54.Blue Rock-Thrush
56.European Stonechat
57.Black-eared Wheatear
58.Isabelline Wheatear
59.Eurasian Blackbird
60.Song Thrush
61.Mistle Thrush
63.Black headed Yellow Wagtail
64.White Wagtail
65.Cirl Bunting
66.Rock Bunting
67.Ortolan Bunting
68.Black-headed Bunting
69.Corn Bunting
70.Common Chaffinch
71.European Greenfinch
72.European Goldfinch
73.Eurasian Linnet
75.House Sparrow
76.Spanish Sparrow
77.Eurasian Tree Sparrow
78.Barn swallow
79.Red-rumped Swallow
80.Houses martin
81.Crag martin
85.Hooded Crow
86.Crested Lark
87.Calandra Lark
89.Great Tit
90.Coal Tit
91.Blue tit
92.Sombre Tit
95.Greater Short-toed Lark

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