Day 5: May 28th
Route: Burgas Wetlands
Today we decided to have a lay in and we started the day with birding after breakfast. It was overcast and about to rain any minute now. Luckily the forecast for the afternoon was promising better weather.
Our first stop was at one of the wetlands within the city of Burgas: called Vaya or Burgas lake. The change of habitat meant a totally new set of species and we started adding them one by one. Upon arrival we flushed two Squacco Herons and once we set up the scopes we saw our first Dalmatian and White Pelicans. In the distance we saw fantastic Black Terns with and a few Whiskered Terns. Four chicks of Cetti’s Warblers were hiding in the nearby bush and Great Reed Warblers were singing their lungs out. What a fantastic start at the wetlands.
When travelling to the next spot I had to pull out for a great migration of Honey Buzzards. Five birds were circling right over our heads and we added Alpine Swift.
The next planned stop was at the dam of Mandra lake where stopped after the first shower eased off. There was an evident movement of birds as the sky filled up with raptors. Within half an hour we saw at least a dozen Honey Buzzards, even more Lesser spotted Eagle, several Black Storks, Booted Eagles and Purple Herons were flying across the dam all the time. Yes, I love this place! Everybody in the group was astonished by the bird diversity and kept repeating the phrase “What a fantastic site!”. Yes, Bulgaria has a lot to offer and this is just a small part of it.
We continued our journey around Burgas wetlands towards the southern side of Mandra lake where we had news for a River Warbler. We couldn’t get it but saw many other birds. Squacco Heron, Pygmy Cormorant, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser spotted Eagle, Hobby and Black headed Bunting to name but a few.
For the afternoon I had planned a visit to Pomorie saltpans where I had hundreds of birds last week. However, the water level was higher now and some birds had left. Nevertheless, we couldn’t take our breath from astonishing the diversity and great number of birds. Kentish Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Garganey, dozens of Little Terns, were only some of the birds we saw here. We had over 40 species for about an hour.
On the way to Pomorie we stopped for some seawatching but it wasn’t very productive. We got only a few Shags and a little Tern.
A visit to the salt museum in Pomorie was very welcome because of the proximity to the birds. Avocets had their chicks wondering around the pools only a few metres from us. Sandwich terns had laid their eggs all along the dikes. It was a superb experience to see some of the birds still displaying, courting with passing fish to each other and mating.
At the end of the day we visited the saltpans at Burgas where we had news for Ruddy Shelduck! The first new bird we added was a Black-tailed Godwit. Seven birds in full breeding plumage were feeding right in front of us. We added more Garganeys, Curlew Sandpiper and of course the Ruddy Shelduck!
What a fantastic day! We had dinner at the usual time which went down really well with some cold drinks. As the cherry of the cake was a walk around the hotel in a search for Long-eared Owls. Well, we could hear the chicks from the doors of the hotel so it didn’t take us long to locate them. How superb was that!
Yes, it was a very good day which ended with a 103 species!