The alarm rang at about 5.40 a.m. Quickly packed and got on the car for an early start. Our main target for the morning was the White-backed Woodpecker.We stopped for a while to grab a coffee and off we went up to the mountains. At 6,40 people were already jogging along the roads. We arrived at our final destination at about 7.00. It was soo lively. Birds were actively singing. There were Wood Nuthatches, Robins, Wrens and Song Thrushes everywhere. A Middle spotted Woodpecker welcomed us at the car park. We entered a superb forest with huge quantity of deadwood. That’s the main reason for the diversity of woodpecker we managed to get.
|Dead wood as a habitat for White backed Woodpecker|
We walked for a while and had the first Great spotted Woodpecker. Of course every woodpecker was checked. Further on a Grey-headed called. In full alertness we kept walking listening to every single bird call. Short-toed Treecreeper, Black Woodpecker but not our target bird. We spend some time in an area where I have photographed the bird before (see the story here). Soon it started snowing. We kept going towards a beautiful waterfall about 15 m high. Two Dippers were a pleasant surprise by the waterfall.
|Waterfall by Iordan Hristov|
In a while it wasn’t possible to see anything. The snow increased and we decided to go to our next destination. On our way down from the mountains we heard a great activity of some birds and decided to stop hoping for more opportunities for our White-backed Woodpecker. We checked every single drumming bird. The forest was superb. At one single spot we had a Great-spotted, Middle and Lesser spotted and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. While waiting for the birds in the forest a curious Red Fox peaked into our bins to check us.
It was time to go.
In an hour we were at our next destination where we were after Dalmatian Pelicans and hoping for a Saker Falcon. The first were not difficult. A group of about 30 birds fed in the shallow waters of a lake and we quickly ticked them off. It was much more surprising to see the nice diversity of birds and the early arriving summer migrants. We had fantastic views of male Garganeys, Ferruginous Duck, and the first for the year White Stork. A big flock of 100+ House martins flied over while we had our picnic lunch on the bank of the lake. It was even more surprising to see my first Sardinian Warbler. Lovely male was only a couple of meters away from us. The first Spanish Sparrows were also around.
|Spanish Sparrow by Iordan Hristov|
The local highlights were the Greater spotted Eagles which overwinter here. We counted about 6 birds. Pretty much at the end of our visit to the lake bits of excitement suggested a Saker Falcon. It turned out to be a young Peregrine which sat quite close for us to enjoy. We checked every single Buzzard hoping for a Saker, but… no. We even had to witness two Buzzards mating 🙂
|Greater-spotted Eagle by Iordan Hristov|
Well this site is really superb. In addition to the birds of prey we had almost all ducks including a nice Red-crested Pochard. A very pleasant surprise was a small group of Bewick’s Swans joined by some Whoopers and Flamingos. What can I say. Superb diversity of birds.
We still had a long way to go so we must travel. We had another 200 km to go and it was already 14.00. The weather forecast wasn’t promising so we better leave some more time. Just as suggested. On the first mountain pass there was fairly little snow but enough to slow us down and drive with about 30 km / h. On the next pass was even worse. This time we had to be really careful. I was driving even slower to make sure we arrive. Along the way, four Roe Deer were calmly feeding by the road. They were really beautiful.
|Roe Deer by Iordan Hristov|
Our intention to search for Pygmy Owl failed and we went straight to our hotel where a warm dinner and a beer were waiting for us.
Well, long day, but superb birding. Next days the weather should get better so hopefully we shall fill up the missing birds.