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BirdID trip in Bulgaria 2014: day 4, April 27th

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The start of today feels like a very long time ago. All the memories of today’s morning somehow mix up with the birding events from previous days. We drove just about 200 km but because of the dramatic change in habitats and total change of atmosphere it feels like a very distant change. From the Mediterranean areas we now moved to an oak woodland about 40 km from the Southern Black Sea Coast.

The morning started at 7 a.m. with… Nightingales everywhere! Someone couldn’t sleep because of them. Other bird calls could hardly be heard because of the Nightingales’ songs. Before we had even had our eyes fully open we already had the first Black Storks for the day. Cirl Bunting called from the bushes nearby and a strange looking sparrow posed nicely for some time. Well this is a good candidate for an Italian Sparrow. It had brown nape with dots of grey which make it look like a young bird so it has to be confirmed by the authorities.

After a nice breakfast we took off. We had a long way to go. Driving along narrow countryside roads made us witness the wilderness of the area. Hares, and Turtle Doves were running and walking along the roads. The road took us to a high watchpoint surrounded by dry Mediterranean bushes. We were aiming at Sub-alpine Warbler and Olive-tree but the it proved to be a little bit early for the second one. The Sub-alpine played shy for some time but turned up sitting nicely on the top of a bush and everyone managed to see it.
Our next stop was accidental but not a surprise. We changed the hilly terrain with the open farmland and rolling hills. An area good for Lesser-spotted Eagles. Two of them were soaring just by the road for the luck of everyone who hadn’t seen them before. The birds came straight over nicely displaying all their ID features suitable for the group. Another stop this time for a break gave us another Lesser-spotted. Well it turned to be a migration and we had another 10 or so together with a few Black Storks.

We continued the journey to our next stop where Imperial Eagle was going to be our main target. We bought a few things for lunch from a local store and off we went to a hillside with a nice overview to the valley where the Imperial Eagle had to be. During lunch an Orphean Warbler was constantly singing. Isabelline and Northern Wheatear also distracted us from our lunch. Within an hour or so the Eagle didn’t appear so we had to go. We slowly started walking towards our van. For the luck of all photographers in the group, several Greater Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipits, Linnets and Isabelline showed pretty well and close by.

During our stop we had an interesting conversation with a local guy who was rather concerned that the Imperial Eagle does a lot of damage to him. I wasn’t quite sure how and what, but the person was suggesting that an eagle with a white head regularly dives and picks up fish from his reservoirs. So the guy was saying that we don’t do anything about this he will kill the Eagles. I kindly explained that the Eagles don’t take fish and it would be rather unlikely but the person didn’t want to hear. It is really difficult communicating with a person like him. I suppose the only thing that he would expect from conservationists is to just get some money. This can be rather stressful and depressing situation if you start thinking about it.

Our way to the hotel was filled up by more emotional stops. A pair of Montagu’s Harriers displayed really nicely and close by the van. The elegant and buoyant flight of the birds was rather memorable. Just when we thought we had finished with the emotions, someone shouted out from the back of the van “Imperial Eagle”. A young second year bird was flying in the distance together with another Montagu’s Harrier. What a view. The bird was really pale with rather evident features on both upper and under wing.

Upon arrival at the hotel, a male Common Redstart welcomed us. Well this would be last bird for the day I think.

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