The day started early in the morning. We were to go owling and my alarm went on at 6.00. Some nearby barns hold a pair of Barn Owls and two pairs of Little Owl. We met at 6.30 and drove for a few minutes to arrive before the first light. Immediately upon arrival, we saw our first Little Owl sitting on an anthena. It was right there silhouetted on the pinkish sky painted by the rising sun. What a view! Geoff really wanted to see one and here it was.
We continued further down the track. I approached slowly some derelict buildings which are ideal for Barn Owls and there it was. A Barn owl had just caught something and was slowly trying to get around it and eat it. How lucky was that? Wow! Another stunning bird! After enjoying it for a while we continued our way to look for more birds. Another Little Owl turned up just a few metres further down the track. Then a Water Rail called from the reeds and Marsh Harriers started flying. Birds were waking up.
Ruddy Shelduck quest
After this brilliant session, we decided to try again for the Ruddy Shelducks which we couldn’t see yesterday. I got off the main road and headed toward the field where the birds were supposed to be. Everything seemed really quiet. There were no birds at all. We approached the particular field and there was still nothing. Then a few Curlews took off. From my information source, I knew that the Ruddy Shelducks are together with a few Curlews so this made me alert. Continued driving carefully when i spotted them! There they were! Five Ruddy Shelducks were flying above the fields and a few more were still sitting in the fields with their heads sticking up. They were really invisible. How cool was that! We took a moment and approached them a bit more then scoped from a safe distance. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with mist over the nearby fields. What a great start!
On the way out of the fields, we stopped again a couple of times. This time it was for a flock of Wagtails which I wanted to check for something different. It took me a few minutes to locate a Yellow Wagtail and a Red-throated Pipit. Well, two more new ones in the bag. This made a total of 5 new birds for Geoff before breakfast! What can I say! It was time for coffee!
We headed back to our hotel for a quick breakfast before we headed south to the Eastern Rhodope mountains where more adventures are to come! A quick stop in town produced a few Alpine Swifts which were really expected. Our first stop after breakfast was by the local landfill where I was hoping to see some remaining White Storks. There they were. Just as we approached the place, at least a dozen birds were just sitting and resting. We spent a few minutes with them and then pulled by a nearby forest where we logged a Green Woodpecker and a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. Unfortunately, they never showed up to see them.
Further along the road, we stopped incidentally to see Spanish Sparrows and Barn Swallows but not much to add. We continued our drive through the hot hours of the day to arrive at a picturesque crater of the volcano. We arrived late in the afternoon and were welcomed by a group of 7 Griffon Vultures right over our head. It was a marvelous welcome at a very dramatic landscape. “This first meeting with the vultures will be something to remember and appreciate.”, said Geoff.