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Bird ID training course: day 4

where to see raptors in bulgaria

This was another superb day of our bird id training course in Bulgaria. It was the raptor day! We had 4 species of eagles, 2 vultures, 2 harriers and 3 falcons.

Pre-breakfast walk

We started again at 6.30 with a walk just outside the town where we stayed. It was a fantastic morning with loads of bird song. the highlight for me were three different Barred Warblers which were singing simultaneously about 300 m away from each other. Some of us had a brief view of an Orphean Warbler but the bird didn’t stay long and not everybody could see it properly.

After breakfast we we visited again the cliffs by the town to try again for some of the birds we missed seeing like Rock Bunting and Rock Nuthatch. This time we managed to log the first one, but we failed with the second. Well, birds are unpredictable. Vultures were already on their wings and we managed to see our last Griffon and Egyptian Vultures.

We hit the road to the coast but about 20 min after we started I heard an Eastern Bonneli’s Warbler calling and stopped to have a look at it. The road didn’t allow us to get off so we just spent some time listening to the bird. A few km later I heard two more singing birds. Great stuff!

Booted Eagle, image: Iordan Hristov

Once we were in the lowlands, it was time for raptors. The first one I stopped for was a pale morph Booted Eagle and when I turned around I saw our first Lesser-spotted Eagle. What a promising day!

About half an hour later we arrived at an old oak woodland where were going to look for Olive-tree Warbler! As were taking our scopes I heard the first one. Then, a second one called! Well, that wasn’t difficult. The hard part comes when we try to see one of them. We spent about 30 minutes playing hide and seek but finally, everybody managed to get on the bird in the scope! Ha, job done! What a fantastic bird! Some relief filled the atmosphere and it was a bit intense missing every single bird.

We stopped for lunch in a beautiful buffet restaurant and everybody had whatever he wanted. Everybody was very happy with the lunch stop.

After lunch

After lunch we headed to a road side stop where our main target was a Masked Shrike! Did we get it? Well, within less than a minute everybody had the bird in their bins. Both birds from the pair were just waiting for us to stop 😉 I love it when i works out like this!

Masked Shrike, image: Iordan Hristov

Other than the Masked Shrike, we got another beautiful view of Olive-tree Warbler and a low flying Honey Buzzard!

Honey Buzzard, image: Iordan Hristov

Our next stop was in a centre for reintroduction of Lesser Kestrel. Birds were flying all around the place! What an amazing bird that is!

Lesser Kestrel, image: Iordan Hristov

Just round the corner of the village we stopped to look for Eastern Imperial Eagle but instead, we found an Isabelline Wheatear and had a fantastic group of 140+ migrating White Storks! Another superb sighting!

Isabelline Wheatear, Image: Iordan Hristov
migrating White Storks, image: Iordan Hristov

Our last target bird for the day was the Great-spotted Cuckoo. We looked for it in two places but couldn’t see it. However, the time that we spent at these two locations was priceless. We had superb views of an immature Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser-spotted Eagle, dark and white morph Booted Eagle, Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers, and Hobby and Common Kestrel

Eastern Imperial Eagle, image: Iordan Hristov

That has got to be the Raptors day. We had a total of 11 species of birds of prey! Really, really amazing!

The long drive to the hotel was a bit quiet as everybody was truly exhausted. Dinner went down smoothly with a cold drink and the tally for the day was 93 species! Not bad for a travelling day i would say! And again, What a cracking day!

Some participants have been on this trip previous times and suggested that they have a much better experience now. More sites, much better observations, and better planning of time! What I can say, we always try to be better!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog!

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