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Birding tour in Bulgaria: day 4

We woke up in the caldera of the volcano well on time for a pre-breakfast walk. It was a beautiful morning and birds started moving about as the sun hit the grounds. We drove to a nearby park where birds started to appear one after the other. Sombre Tit was one of the first, then Cirl Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Middle spotted Woodpecker, Lesser spotted Woodpecker and a distant Little Owl was trying to collect some sunlight on the top of a chimney of a local building.

Today we will stay locally. The plan is to visit a vulture restaurant and look for vultures and beautiful landscapes along the way. The place where vultures are fed is on the top of a picturesque hill overlooking two river valleys with signs of major volcanic activity.

Madzharovo crater and Arda river, image: Iordan Hristov

We left our lodge shortly after breakfast to drive up to the top of the caldera and stop at some picturesque meadows. The main reason were several Mistle Thrushes feeding there. Then we saw a Sparrowhawk, Hawfinch flew over, Woodlark and a couple of Green Woodpeckers.

Further along the road, we stopped to enjoy the views of Arda River valley where the river has made its way through the volcanic rocks in the area. It was absolutely stunning.

The Vulture Restaurant

We arrived in the area of the Vulture Restaurant at noon. There were no vultures at the feeding site itself but there were a few in the sky. They were just gathering to head somewhere where there was available food. Thus we saw them only for a few minutes before they disappeared. Just as we arrived though, a Golden Jackal came right out in the open to show himself. What a great view! It was difficult to judge on the size of this animal until a Raven flew over it. Then it was obvious how small the animal is. The wingspan of the Raven was just about as long as the body of the Jackal. Real Nature experience!

roosting Griffon Vultures
roosting Griffon Vultures, record shot, image: Iordan Hristov

Further down the road we stopped again to enjoy the area and catch up with small birds. Several Woodlarks were singing actively showing really beautifully out in the open. We also saw Sombre Tit, and the star bird Sardinian Warbler. The little skulker took us half an hour to see but we did at the end. It kept calling from the middle of the bush but never show himself. It was towards the end when we nearly gave up when it just went to a small bush where we could see it. Job done!

Arda River

We continued our way back to the lodge but not before stopping by the river to look for Dipper. They do occur here although not regularly. As we stopped we saw a Common Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail which were still missing from our list. Then I spotted on Dipper going under a bush at the river. Once it came out it started hunting and diving in the river, walking on the bottom and collecting small crustaceans. Another great experience! Another bird joined it and both of them were feeding actively diving right into the rapids of the river. We could see the birds closing their first eyelid when diving. The Sun was really shining on them and they looked very rufous. What a beautiful bird and a truly spectacular experience to peak into the intimate life of these little creatures.

Further along the river we stopped at several places to look for Black Vulture but in vain. I got information from colleagues working on the species that the birds are not in the area. Thus we decided to grab a drink and head to my favourite place in the area. A small table made of stone right by the cliffs with the vultures overlooking the river. It is a really majestic and very, very picturesque and calming place. We enjoyed a Black Stork in the River, a Peregrine Falcon stopped right above our heads and stayed there all the time as we were having our drinks. This relaxing time and watching birds without rushing is a very important part of some of my tours. Most people appreciate it very much.

The sky darkened and the forecasted rain was here. We called it a day and retreated for a proper rest before dinner when the real rain came to cool down and water the grounds. It’s been yet another fantastic day!

2 thoughts on “Birding tour in Bulgaria: day 4”

  1. Pity to have just missed the feeding frenzy at the vulture restaurant but seeing the jackal was great recompense. The Dipper was definitely one of my target birds and watching them for 20 minutes from a high vantage point was akin to one of David Attenborough’s nature documentaries.

  2. Pingback: Birding tour in Bulgaria: day 5 - Birdwatching and Photography in Bulgaria

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