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Birding break in Bulgaria: day 2

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birding break in Bulgaria

The second day of our birding break in Bulgaria started in the village Borislavtsi where we did a short walk around the village. There was a thick mist and it was very cold so we couldn’t go to the nearby reservoir. The walk produced a few common birds like Whitethroat, many White Storks, Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, Corn Buntings and a few other common birds.

Spanish Sparrow, image: Iordan Hristov

After breakfast we continued to Madzharovo: the realm of Vultures and one of my favourite places in the country. It was still cold so there were not on their wing yet. Thus we started spotting song birds: Ortolan Bunting and Rock Bunting were singing from the rocks. Several Blue Rock Thrushes were sitting right on top of the pinnacles marking their territory and Peregrine Falcons were patrolling the area.

image: Iordan Hristov

Birds of prey

As it warmed up we started spotting our first vultures. Some were still roosting but around 10.00 quite a few were already flying. There were many Griffon Vultures and a total of 4 Egyptian Vultures. The Cinereous Vulture was also there. As a result of a conservation programme of Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Rewilding Europe, the Cinereous Vulture is coming back and breeding after 25 years missing from these lands. It is a real conservation success. We have been seeing them for most of the day including some display by a pair flying together.

Raptors were clearly flying so we added Black Kite to the list, high flying male Montagu’s Harrier, Short -toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel and a few more towards the end of the day.

Warblers and Shrikes

We did well on warblers and strikes as well. A pair of Orphean Warblers was visiting regularly their favourite place and a beautiful male Subalpine performed perfectly for us singing from an open perch so everybody could enjoy it. Lesser Whitethroats also showed well and we only heard the Blackcap from the nearby trees.

It was amazing to see the Woodchat shrikes display with their typical head bobbing. There were our first strikes for the course so it was great to see.

We stopped for lunch at the local Nature Conservation Centre where we took some rest.

birding break in Bulgaria
Reinhold’s Orchid, image: Iordan Hristov

After lunch

After lunch, we spent more than an hour in a local park looking for Scops Owl but it wasn’t very productive. We only heard it calling once and that was it. They are really difficult lately. Instead we photographed the rare Reinhold’s Orchid which were already passing.

For the afternoon of our birding break, we decided to walk along the River to look for Golden Eagle and Eastern Bonneli’s Warbler. It was only on the way back when we actually managed to get the Eagle and Warbler never turned up. Instead, we saw a beautiful male Semi-collared Flycatcher which singing actively and ending a nesting hole. This was a pretty good find. Although the species is known to nest in the area, I have not seen him here for several years.

Long-tailed Tit, image: Iordan Hristov

Sitting by the river and the cliffs is a very relaxing and rewarding experience so we decided to end the day at the most picturesque place in the country where the river meanders in the volcano crater. We grabbed a few drinks and drove down the road to spend an hour watching the vultures fly. We had many Black Storks and added Booted Eagle to the list.

We looked for a Rock Nuthatch Nest but it never turned up. It was already 6.30 so we called it a day. It was another beautiful day with sunshine and great birds.

End of the day

We ended our second day of our birding break in Bulgaria with an evening walk around our lodge looking for Scops Owl. We could hear at least 3 different individuals when starting the walk. It wasn’t when we were coming back that we finally managed to see one illuminated by our torches. What a great bird! Seeing its yellow eyes was fantastic!

Black Vulture was voted for bird of the day by some of the group members. Others enjoyed the Blue Rock Thrush display and the process of the Semi-collared flycatcher spotting it based on calls.

See here the story from the first day of our birding break and stay tuned for more.

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