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Birdwatching trip in Bulgaria, day 1 of 8

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Nutcracker photography in Bulgaria

Sofia airport – Vitosha mountains – Krichim – Yagodina village

Weather: cloudy with mist in the mountains, overcast along the way, temp 7-15 degr.cels.

Just started a new 8 day birdwatching trip around Bulgaria with a group of four birders. The group arrived at lunchtime and it didn’t take us an hour when we had our binoculars out and ticking our first birds.

Unlike other years, this time we decided to drive up into the mountains next to Sofia and look for Nutcrackers. A well sought bird that proves difficult in the breeding season. One hour after we had left the airport we were making our way up to the mountains. While travelling up the bumpy, coble mountain road a heard a Semi-collared Flycatcher which made me jump onto the breaks. It took us a minute to locate the singing bird. A brilliant male was singing out in the open on the top of a dead tree providing superb views. It sat still enough for everyone to see in the scope. A minute later a Black Woodpecker called from the woods but it didn’t show. What great start!

Birdwatching trip in Bulgaria

Semi-collared Flycatcher

Couple of miles up the road we stopped the van again. This time was for a Willow Tit. A fantastic bird was calling a provided great views for everyone.

Semi-collared Flycatcher Wood

Few minutes later we finally arrived at a ski resort where Nutcrackers are notoriously known to exist. Temperature was below 10 degrees Celsius and mist was covering the tops of the trees. Nevertheless we started ticking bird after bird. Black Redstart, Crossbill, Ring Ouzel (alpestris), Firecrest, Goldrest and there it was… a Nutcracker sat right in the open providing superb views. We first saw it flying across the ski slopes and over the tree tops but finally it sat still for everyone to enjoy. What a flipping good start!

Nutcracker photography in Bulgaria

Nutcracker. Image taken in january 2019 during a nutracker photography session


We had lunch at the mountain chalet at the resort and when coming out of the building another Nutcracker called and sat right up there waiting for us to scope it. Mission accomplished! Off we go to Yagodina which will be our base for the coming night.

On the way we did only one stop to stretch our legs. At the stop we logged a Roller, Black headed Bunting, Golden Oriole and a Lesser spotted Eagle. En route we added Raven, Red-rumped Swallow and Lapwing.

We arrived at the hotel at Yagodina for a wonderful meal and a well deserved cold drink. We ended up with 59 species for the day. What a great start of the trip! 

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