Route: Melnik – Rupite – Melnik
Weather: hot, 32 degrees.
It was a really hot day. We started with an early morning pre-breakfast walk around the hotel grounds when only 5 people turned up. I don’t blame them as we got mainly birds but we got about 20 different species: Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Alpine Swift, Golden Oriole, Hawfinch, and a few other common birds.
Breakfast was a buffet and we had it by the swimming pool of our hotel. How nice was that! We enjoyed our coffee listening to the bird calls.
After this superb time outdoors, we headed to our main spot for the day: Rupite area! It is a great hotspot for any nature lover. Immediately upon arrival, we started noting: Roller, Black-headed Bunting, Sombre Tit, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Turtle Dove, Hawfinch, and others. Further along the track, we had several Cirl Buntings, and I managed to get everybody on Eleonora’s Falcons. There were at least 5 birds in the air. It was one of the highlights for most of the birders in the group. Further along, another highlight made the day. My attention was attracted by an interesting bird call. Some of the birders suggested a warbler but it was not. It was a Masked Shrike! “Wooooow!” This was the reaction of the birders 😉 How nice is it to hear and see the result of your successful work. I managed to get them on the bird, A nice male was displaying. Then the female arrived, and we had fantastic, prolonged views in the scope! This must be the bird of the day for some of us. After this excitement, we added Short-toed Eagle, Syrian Woodpecker, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, Woodhcat Shrike, Cirl Bunting, and a few more good birds.
The other interest groups were also rather excited by this spot. The herpetologists couldn’t see much because of the high temperature but the rest of the group enjoyed lots of different crickets and grasshoppers, butterflies, owlflies, and beetles.
A few hours after we started, it was time to change the spot and the habitat with some cliffs and water pools. Some of the first birds we ticked were Western Rock Nuthatch and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. I managed to find a tiny Ortolan Bunting sitting nicely on a dead tree on the forested hillside. What a great find was that! I kept looking for Blue Rock Thrush but it never turned up. It was too hot for him and for us.
The small ponds around the place had a good selection of dragonflies: Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Common Bluetail (Ischnura elegans), Green-eyed Hawker (Aeshna isosceles), Azure Bluet (Coenagrion puella), Dainty Bluet (Coenagrion scitulum), and Broad-bodied Chaser.
We stopped for a light meal in a local restaurant by the swimming pools with mineral water and we headed back to the hotel for a rest. The heat was unbearable and no animal was moving anyway. It was just the right time for the swimming pool and some people from the group made use of it including myself. What a great way to spend a hot afternoon!
In the late afternoon, we decided to visit a famous house in Melnik: Kordopulova kashta (a famous wine house). We enjoyed the rich decorations of this rich trader that has owned the house and looked around the fantastic old town. It wouldn’t be us if we don’t stop for a quick beer or two in a local restaurant. So we did and everybody had a great mood before dinner 😊
Another great day and dinner by the swimming pool! Although our plans for the following days included an early start, we stayed quite late enjoying the cool hours of the day over a drink or two.