Just returned from a fantastic birdid weekend trip to South-West Bulgaria. Together with 8 students in bird id training that I conduct we visited the surroundings of Kerkini lake, Belasitsa mountain and Rupite. This superb variety of habitats brought us over 80 birds with some spectacular views.
We met early on Saturday morning and transferred to our first location some 220 km to the south of Sofia. In the Mediterranean scrub here we were about to look for Warbler, Shrikes and Buntings. The open landscape offered good opportunity for birds of prey and the large wetland was superb for waterfowl. I recon we had great success in finding all four species of European Shrikes including Masked, Woodchat, Lesser grey and Red backed. We had good views of the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Eastern Orphean Warbler and some of the group saw a Sardinian Warbler. Black-headed Buntings were everywhere and certainly more abundant than their relatives Corn and Cirl Buntings both of which showed rather well and offered good views to remember. From the birds of prey, the participants in the training, managed to enjoy a group of 4 Eleonora’s Falcons in both dark and pale morph. The birds flied over several times so managed to have good views. We also saw a pale Booted Eagle, a Golden Eagle, and a glimpse of a male Red-footed Falcon.
Our second stop for the day was around a wetland where we enjoyed both Dalmatian and White Pelican, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret and Grey Heron. Bee-eaters were everywhere to our delight. Great crested grebes were offering fantastic show with their display games. A group of 50+ birds had their nests not far from the bank. A boat trip took us into a Cormorant and Heron colony which was absolutely superb. The participants suggested they had never experienced anything like this. They felt like in Africa. Thus we ended the day.
The second day of our birdid weekend trip included a different range of habitats. We got up early to enjoy the calls of woodland birds. Right in front of our place for the night we had a Lesser spotted Woodpecker and Semi-collared Flycatcher. Further into the wood we logged a pair of Tawny Owls, more Semi-collared Flycatchers, Black Woodpecker and a pair of White-backed Woodpeckers. Superb highlights that the group really enjoyed.
After breakfast we went to an open area with farmland, cliffs and riverine poplar trees. Here we had fantastic views of Roller, Black and White Stork, Short-toed Eagle and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. A Levant Sparrowhawk attached a Long-legged Buzzard which must have passed too close to it. That was quite a spectacle. Thus we called it a day and made our way back to Sofia. What a weekend!
Here is the full checklist of birds seen in order of observation:
1. Magpie (Pica pica).
2. Nightingale (Luscinic megarhynchos).
3. Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
4. Eleonora’s Falcon – pale and dark morph (Falco eleonorae).
5. Eastern Olivaceous warbler (Uduna pallida).
6. Hoopoe (Upupa epops).
7. Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis).
8. Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala).
9. Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra).
10. Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus).
11. Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris).
12. Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica – melanoleuca).
13. Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator).
14. Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus).
15. Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata).
16. Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala).
17. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia).
18. Black Kite (Milvus migrans).
19. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).
20. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba).
21. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea).
22. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta).
23. Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus).
24. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava).
25. Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor).
26. Great crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus).
27. Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).
28. Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo).
29. Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus).
30. Squacco Heron (Aredeola raloides).
31. Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus).
32. Great White Egret (Casmerodius albus).
33. Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur).
34. European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster).
35. Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia).
36. Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax).
37. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).
38. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus).
39. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis).
40. Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio).
41. Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis).
42. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo).
43. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus).
44. White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus).
45. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
46. Yellow legged Gull (Larus michahellis).
47. Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus).
48. Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).
49. Tawny Owl (Srix aluco) – h.
50. Semi-collared Flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata).
51. Lesser spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor).
52. Blackbird (Turdus merula).
53. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).
54. Robin (Erithacus rubecula).
55. Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus).
56. Great Tit (Parus major).
57. Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus).
58. Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla).
59. Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla).
60. Song Thrush (Tudus philomelos).
61. Chiffchaf (Phylloscopus collibita)
62. Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).
63. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) .
64. White backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos lilfordii).
65. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus).
66. Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti).
67. Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus).
68. Roller (Coracias garrulus).
69. Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus).
70. Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus).
71. House Martin (Delichon urbicum).
72. Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica).
73. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica).
74. Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).
75. Raven (Corvus corax).
76. Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes).
77. Hoowded Crow (Corvus cornix).
78. Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus).
79. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata).
80. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).
81. Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).