Day 2, May 14th
Yagodina village – Trigrad gorge – Kardzhali – Krumovgrad
We started with a very productive walk around Yagodina village. Some of us managed to hear a Scops Owl calling during the night from the hotel surroundings. Black Redstarts were everywhere around the village but the highlights were Grey-headed and 2 Black woodpeckers which were calling. Unfortunally not everyone managed to see the latter but we shall be searching for them again later on during the trip. Other birds that made it high into the scale for bird of the day were Pallid Swifts which offered superb views. Crossbills and Yellowhammer were also in the village.
After breakfast we headed to Trigrad Gorge to search for the Wallcreeper. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it but head fantastic views of mating Alpine Swifts again low over ourselves. What a bird that is! We spent couple of hours in the gorge but had to go. We still have a few places to stop and mileage to drive.
Our next stop was by a mountain pass with confer trees where our main target birds were the Ring Ouzel, Firecrest and Nutcracker. When driving along the road to our stop we heard several Firecrests but it took us some time to locate a Ring Ouzel from the local race alpestris. After the first one they started showing up and we had more than 3 singing at the same time. Some of us managed to see a Steppe Buzzard which was hunting on the mountain meadows. Along our track we managed to see couple of Willow Tits which made it high onto the top birds for the day. We nearly gave up from the Nutcracker when one called very close while having our picnic lunch on the top of the mountain. Unfortunately it didn’t show and we couldn’t see it but they are secretive at this time of the year.
It started raining and we had to press on. We drove for a couple of hours until the town of Kardzhali where we stopped at our usual local garage to break up the journey and stretch our legs. Ice cream was rather refreshing but the excitement came from a pale Booted Eagle and Peregrine Falcon which flew overhead while having our ice cream. Several Pygmy Cormorants, Little Egrets and a small group of five White Storks made the 10 min stop very productive.
About 40 minutes later we stopped at another of my spots where the rain has just passed and the air was very fresh. Immediately after getting off the van I heard a Hawfinch which offered super views and became another applicant for bird of the day. Several minutes later a pair of Golden Orioles stood right out in the open of a high tree offering amazing views. Needless to say how exciting this was. We also had a wonderful male Cirl Bunting and Hoopoe. What a productive stop!
Right before we entered the town for the night we stopped at a very close Bee-eater colony. At the mild evening light the birds looked just fantastic! With their fresh breeding plumage some birds were excavating their nesting holes on the sand wall! We also had 2 pairs of Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Common Sandpipers.
The beer in the garden of the hotel was even more enjoyable with the song of a nightingale. After dinner we went to the nearby city park where we managed to see a Scops Owl. What a long and productive day with over 70 species seen for this traveling day.