Yagodina – Trigrad gorge – Smolyan – Kardzhali – Krumovgrad
Weather: chilly in the mountains and sunny during the day with temp up to 20 degr.cels.
We met at 6.30 am for a walk in Yagodina before breakfast. It was rather cool but birds were singing actively. We had fantastic views of Red-rumped Swallows, Pallid Swifts, Serin, Black Redstart, Long-tailed Tits and a stunning male Bullfinch. The highlight of the morning walk must be a pair of Black Woodpeckers which we saw on their favourite tree. We also heard Green woodpecker and some of us saw Great spotted Woodpecker.
After a wonderful breakfast we loaded the luggage and headed to the place for our main reason to be in the area. The Wallcreeper! Heading towards the site we saw couple of Dippers and many Grey Wagtails.
In about 30 min we were at the Wallcreeper place. I opened the door of the van and within 30 seconds heard the fantastic song of the Wallcreeper! Then i saw a bird flying across the gorge and again the call of the male which sounded very close. It was right opposite our side of the road about 20m away from us. We kept watching it feeding, singing, going in and out of view. At times we had both birds from the pair in the binoculars. What a treat! We watched for about 30 min when the male decided to come over our side of the road and landed in less than 10 m away from us. It stayed still, then flashing the red on its wings and singing! Oh, my Lord! That is an absolute stunning bird! What an experience!
“There is nothing more you can want from this bird. “, said one of the participants. We kept watching the bird when it disappeared and we could finally breath. What a stunner!
The pair was not seen for several years and it is fantastic that it is finally back here.
We left the place with great satisfaction and continued our way to the east.
In an hour drive we stopped to enjoy the mountainous view and the song of Yellowhammer which fitted very nicely with the landscape. While enjoying it, two Honey Buzzards flew low over our heads. Further on we added Firecrest and Dunnock to the list.
For lunch we stopped in Smolyan: a small town with very steep terrain. Couple of hours later we descended from the mountains and were watching Pygmy Cormorants while eating our ice-cream and drinking coffee. What a change in terrain, habitats and birds.
Already in the Eastern Rhodopes, we started adding birds of prey to our list. A Short-toed Eagle flew low over the road and we certainly pulled out to enjoy it. Another layby on the road produced glimpses of our first Syrian Woodpecker, a distant Egyptian Vulture, Golden Oriole, Cirl Bunting, Nightingale, Black Stork, Red -backed Shrike and a few other common birds.
It was already a long and full with excitements day, so we called it a day. What a productive day regardless of all the travelling.