Trigrad – Kardzhali – Madzharovo
We started at 6.30 with a pre breakfast walk around the hotel grounds. Once we came out of the yard our attention was attracted by some alarm calls coming from the river. A Dipper wasn’t happy having a Kingfisher around and chased him away from his territory. This scene caused some excitement in the group and woke us up rather quickly. Two Grey Wagtails were witnesses of the scene. Soon we carried on along the road. A juvenile Rock Bunting attracted our attention and showed well for our delight. We also logged a distant call of Black Woodpecker and a few Red-rumped swallows.
After breakfast we headed to our first stop for the day. Trigrad gorge. This is where we were going to look for the Wallcreeper A magnificent bird that is a must see for every birder. We arrived at the gorge shortly after 9 a.m. and kept looking and waiting with no result. We decided to change the spot with another one where the birds are usually seen but that place was rather noisy and didn’t proof successful either. We went back to the initial place to try again but had no luck. Well we did try. In the mean time we had a few Alpine Swifts, Black Redstarts and a close Honey Buzzard. After this we decided trying on a group of Pallid Swifts. This time we made it. We had about a dozen birds fairly close.
It was getting late so we had to go. Our main targets at the next site were birds of the conifer area like Ring Ouzel, Spotted Nutcracker and Firecrest but we managed to get only the last one. It was pretty difficult but i am glad we managed to see it.
We descended from the mountains into a small town to have a wonderful lunch with beef soup and ice cream. We still had a few hours to drive so we hit the road. We pressed on for the next couple of hours to catch up with the distance to our next place for the night. We stopped at a gas station to break up the journey, have another ice cream and saw our first Pygmy Cormorants. These were also well wanted birds.
Further along the road we pulled out for a soaring bird of prey which turned out to be rufous morph of Booted Eagle. Local people were pretty curious about us jumping out of the car and an old fellow approached us without hiding his curiosity. One of my guests made quick contact and became a friend with the local guy who explained with gestures that will bring something to eat. The local fellow ran up the hill to his house to pick up a few pears and broad a handful. My guests were really delighted and the pears were superb.
It was getting fairly late but we still decided to make another stop. It was time for owls and it didn’t take us long to spot our first Little Owl. At the same spot we had another Isabelline Wheatear and a Crested lark.
We arrived in our lodge for the next two nights at about 8 p.m. The place is managed by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and my guests were really happy with it. We had a very pleasant evening chatting with the interpreter of the Vulture visiting centre.