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Bird ID training course: Day 8

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Slender billed Gull

route: Shabla and Durankulak lakes

Before lunch birding at Shabla and Durankulak lakes

We started the day with the usual pre-breakfast walk. The location of the hotel right on the shore and the great variety of habitats around made it possible to see over 30 species for this 1.5 hours walk.

The mild Sunlight of the morning Sun made this walk really memorable. There is some magic in being out in Nature in the early mornings. The warm touch of the golden light brings warmth and beauty. We had a great view of the Barred Warbler, many Golden Orioles, Bee-eaters, and several Hawfinches. We tried to do some sea watching but the weather was too good for any dynamics over the sea. The morning highlight must be a pair of Red-footed Falcons, which stood around a possible breeding site for quite some time. Although distant, we could see the male and the female standing on the top of a tree. Great birds! Red-footed Falcons are really rare breeders in Bulgaria now and it would be great if they start breeding here.

Birding around Durankulak lake

spoonbill in flight
Spoonbill in flight, image: Iordan Hristov

After breakfast, we visited the famous Durankulak lake. The main target here was the Paddyfield Warbler but unfortunately, we could not see it although we spent about 3 hours in the area. Never mind. We had some other great birds. Some of the first birds we saw here were two Bearded Reedlings and a Purple Heron. More than 20 pairs of Ferruginous Ducks were swimming in one of the marshes here. Most of us managed to see a Garganey which was our first for the trip. On the beach, we saw a Greater Short-toed Lark and Tawny Pipit and on the sea we had another Dalmatian Pelican. While watching the Ferruginous Ducks, 4 Slender-billed Gulls flew right over our heads! The breeze from the sea made this walk very, very pleasant.

birding at Shabla and Durankulak lakes
Ferruginous Duck, image: Iordan Hristov

After the walk, we stopped in a coffee shop right on the shore for a cup of icecream and coffee which made the birding even more pleasant. Since it was quite hot and I could feel the fatigue in people, we decided to have some downtime and go back to the hotel. Some people wanted to swim in the sea or the swimming pool so we retreated for a couple of hours.

Slender billed Gull
Slender billed Gull, image: Iordan Hristov

Birding around Shabla Lake

We reunited again at 4 p.m. and went south to the other big lake in the area: Shabla Lake. First, we stopped at the lagoon by the sea. As we were approaching the site I heard a Rose Finch. It stopped briefly right in front of us but not many of the group managed to see it well. Wow, What a goodie!

In the lagoon, we had a pair of Shelducks with about 10 chicks, several Coots, and Black-winged Stilts. Another Garganey made the people who didn’t see it in the morning smile. That was all we managed to see here. It wasn’t much.

We decided to do some seawatching but just as earlier on, there was no activity over the sea. Just as we were going to leave, one of the group members saw a Caspian Gull! Great Stuff! It was a bird that some group members wanted to see. Adding new birds is now quite difficult.

Just as we headed back to the hotel we decided to make one final stop for the day. I wasn’t very keen on that because was overgrown. Nevertheless, we took a walk along one of the lakes relying mainly on our hearing. The main target birds here were Savi’s Warbler and we wanted to try again for the Paddyfield Warbler.

As we started the walk we heard a Water Rail and saw the display of a pair of Marsh Harriers passing food to each other. Wow, that was special! Walking along, we heard a Little Bittern calling, which was another special moment. Almost at the end of our path we finally managed to hear the Savi’s Warbler. It was distant, but as we approached it, we heard it quite well. We tried to see it but were not successful. The Paddyfield Warbler didn’t show up again, so we dipped it.

This was the end of the day birding at Shabla and Durankulak lakes. We had seen 92 bird species today.

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