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Bird ID training course: day 6

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birdwatching around Burgas wetlands

Route: birdwatching around Burgas Wetlands

After the exciting day yesterday, today was rather quiet. Everybody felt rather tired. We had to stop for coffee several times and we still felt tired. I suppose the early starts every day are having an impact.

Pre-breakfast walk

We started the day in beautiful weather and drove to the nearby saltpans just 2 minutes from the hotel. The light was absolutely beautiful. Immediately as we arrived we started seeing new birds. A large group of 20+ Black-tailed Godwits together with 50 Avocets, a dozen Black-winged Stilts, and hundreds of Flamingos were feeding right in front of the hide. Six Ruff took off as we approached and 10 Ruddy Shelducks flew by.

Nevertheless, it was still fairly quiet. We walked around the hide to reach a place where we could see the southern part of the saltpans. However, there wasn’t much else to add other than a Black-headed Yellow Wagtail so we decided to head for breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to a beautiful oak woodland where our main targets were Semi-collared Flycatcher, Short-toed Treecreeper and Middle spotted Woodpecker. It took us about half an hour to get there. Just as we got off the van, 6 huge shepherd dogs came to us and were rather keen to chase us away guiding their herd. We had to wait for a while until they calmed down and we could carry on with our birding.

When the dogs got away, we heard a beautiful Ortolan Bunting singing from the top of a tree nicely lit by the sun. What a sighting! “Just out of the book”, one of the participants said.

In the forest, we heard the Short-toed Treecreeper and soon had it in the binos. The first target in the bag. At the same time, an Olive-tree Warbler was singing from the nearby bushes and a woodpecker was pecking on a tree. Well, it was not our target bird. It was a Great spotted Woodpecker and still good to see.

a group birdwatching around Burgas wetlands

We crossed a small meadow and entered another bit of the forest. This time, we got the Middle spotted Woodpecker. Horray! Unfortunately, not everybody managed to get on the bird so we will need to look for it again in the following days.

It was time for a coffee so we stopped for a short break. Then we continued to a disused quarry to look for Rose-coloured Starling but the only thing we got was a Northern Wheatear and several Great Reed Warblers. On the way to lunch, we finally saw our first Collared Pratincoles from the van. Unfortunately, the view was not great and not everybody managed to see them, so we will be looking for them later on today.

After lunch

We grabbed lunch from a roadside café and went to the saltpans to eat it. There were dozens of nesting Avocets, Sandwich Terns, Stilts and Common Terns! Fantastic! Some Avocets already had their chicks running around. Unfortunately, some unknown event has made many pairs to abandon their nests and quite a few eggs were rolling around the saltpans. Truly horrible view!

birdwatching around Burgas wetlands
Avocet, image: Iordan Hristov

Some rain was coming and we decided to do a quick scan of the sea and stay by the van in case it caught us. It was a good decision! As we were watching our first Mediterranean Shags for the trip, rain started and we entered the van quickly. We had to wait for 10 minutes before continuing.

As it stopped, we drove around another part of the saltpans to walk along a dike. Here we managed to see an immature Little Gull, a distant Slender-billed Gull, and a Black-throated Diver in summer plumage! Great stuff! I love this bird. I was really hoping we would see it.

We were thinking the rain will bring some migration and decided to do another sea-watching session. This time I stopped in a small bay at the southern part of the town. Shortly after we stopped one of the participants shouted out “I have a skua!”, What? An Arctic Skua was chased by the Common Terns not that far off the shore. Another fantastic sighting for the day! Wow, I am really happy about this bird.

Our last stop for the day was at a beautiful grassland just north of Burgas. This was my site for the Collared Pratincoles. Some birders that were present suggested they had seen the birds a while ago and a quick scan produced about a dozen Pratincoles! Horray! Another lifer for some of the group!

A Roller flew past, bee-eaters were calling all the time, two Hobbies were hunting, and Lapwings were all over the place and some of us spotted a Stone Curlew! Great stuff!

As we were about to leave, somebody said, “What is this?”. I looked up in the sky and there was a swarm of raptors in cattle! Oh, my… I love these sightings! A group of 20 Honey Buzzards were followed by 20 Black Kites, then a Marsh Harrier and more Honey Buzzards and Black Kites! Absolutely cracking views! For this 10 minutes of migration, we had a total of 60 Honey Buzzards and 25 Black Kites! What a great end of the day!

The sky darkened again and this time the rain was not intending to stop. We headed to the hotel for an early night and some rest before dinner! Another superb day regardless of the fatigue.

We managed to see 100 species today!

Tomorrow we are heading to the Northern Black Sea coast. Stay tuned to see the latest!

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