Four day birdwatching trip, day 3 – 25.07.2015

Madzharovo – the volcano crater

We started at 6.30 a.m. to make use of the cool weather and drove for a mile to reach our place for the pre breakfast birding. It was rather fresh and soon birds starting appearing. The first bird to spot was a Black Stork feeding in the river. Griffon Vulture chicks were still in their nests and presented us with superb opportunities to observe their behaviour. “I have never believed i would be able to see this bird” said Kathy, one of my guests. In the following moment two Egyptian Vultures took off from the feeding site, Rock Nutchatches had just left their nest and were calling from everywhere. Blue Rock Thrush song was still echoing amongst the cliffs although their chicks were begging for food around them. In the next moment a Sombre tit called from the nearest tree and a Middle spotted Woodpecker call made the thrill even higher. We could hardly take a breath of these exciting observations when Lu spotted a flying Peregrine Falcon with prey. It took us some time to locate it at its perch but then all our attention was focused on its feeding habits. Ohh boy, the Peregrine was fiercely removing the feathers from its prey which we concluded was a Turtle Dove. The Peregrine was either hungry or rather anxious because it kept looking around and actively removing the feathers. It took him over 10 min to cope with them before it started feeding. We were so focused that we started neglecting the calling juv Long legged Buzzard from the cliffs across the river. We didn’t feel how an hour and half had passed and soon we realised it was time for breakfast and we headed to our lodge.

We enjoyed great omelette with toast and coffee before we were ready for the next bit of birding. Lu decided to stay in the lodge save from the Sun and rising temperatures. We were still at the car park in front of the lodge when a pale Booted Eagle turned up. Not long after that three Black Kites made a show. It was about 10 a.m. and temperature was difficult to bear so we often searched for a shade. We had another Middle spotted Woodpecker, lots of Woodchat Shrikes, Hawfinches and more Griffon Vultures. We used every opportunity to peek into their nests and witness the parenthood of the adults. A Subalpine Warbler turned up at its usual place for our delight. As always it was rather skulking but at least we saw its fabulous red throat. What a bird this is. It was getting really hot in the 30s C so we decided to head back to the lodge and take a siesta before it was possible to do some more birding.

We didn’t meet before 17.30 for the next birding session. He weather had cooled off and we headed to the nearest town to search for some common birds and we didn’t fail. We had quite a few obliging Golden Orioles and Hawfinches which presented us with great sighting opportunities. Young Cirl Buntings were also in good numbers. Since Lu had missed the Subalpine Warbler we decided to give it another try. However it was already quite late and the bird didn’t turn up at all. We decided to leave for the pre breakfast walk tomorrow morning.

We had a light dinner and decided to go owl spotlighting. Our main target was a Scops Owl. At the first place we weren’t very successful but at the second one, Scops Owl were everywhere. We had at least 3 birds singing simultaneously. And it didn’t take us long to locate our bird. What a stunner! It stayed singing for over 5 min presenting us with great observation opportunities. It would be difficult to choose a bird of the day but the top three would be the Scops Owl, the foraging Peregrine and the Griffon Vulture chicks. “Fantastic day” agreed all my guests.

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