Route: Kerkini lake, Greece – Rila monastery, Bulgaria
Weather: chilly and “fresh”, after rain last night. Temp: c.17degrees.
Today is our last full day of the trip. We leave the beautiful Kerkini lake in Greece and head back to Bulgaria to visit the mountains around Rila monastery.
We left the hotel shortly after breakfast and had no problems crossing the border. It was fairly easy without much waiting. Two hours after the border we arrived in the area of Rila monastery to walk the beautiful valley of Iliyna reka (River). I was expecting many butterflies but the low temperatures were not a precondition for this. Nevertheless, we still managed to find some good ones including Phalakron Blue, which is a rare butterfly with a very limited distribution range. We also got Scarce Copper and Purple shot Copper.
Bird wise was fairly quiet. We had a family of Common Buzzards flying over, several Red-rumped Swallows, and when leaving, we saw a Goshawk. That was a goodie! It is always great to see these powerful birds.
For lunch, we stopped in a mountainous café where we enjoyed a small salad and a warm soup. The café is situated at the end of the road right by the majestic cliffs of Zliya zab (“The evil ridge” – a steep peak with a rock formation) and surrounded by a wonderful meadow and tall spruce trees.
After lunch, we walked the path up from the café. The highlight of the walk must be the Heath spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) which was new for the trip and there were quite a few plants along the way. We got several Common frogs (Rana temporaria) but not much to add.
It was getting late in the afternoon and we headed back to visit Rila monastery and allow enough time to see this wonderful place. Luckily, there weren’t many people so we enjoyed a quiet visit and the monastery in its full glory. What a spectacular place that is!
Everybody was very tired so we finished just in time for a rest before our last dinner!
Well, this was our last day! Tomorrow we drive directly to the airport. It’s been a fantastic trip! Everybody in the group was very, very happy and there were loads of kind words of appreciation! It was a sincere pleasure to travel with this group of people who are now friends.
See you next time! Stay tuned for more stories about birding and photography in Bulgaria and neighboring countries!