In the next few lines I describe a ornithological and photographic trip that I have done last spring during 15 days, exploring some of the prettiest, and rich in birds, landscapes of europe, specifically along the Black Sea coast, the Rhodopes mountains, those of Vitosha and those of the Central Balkans, all of them belonging to Bulgaria.
Before this trip I could not imagine that you could see so many different species of birds in so few days, of course with patience and dedication…, but the result has been a pleasant surprise and my camera is full of images of birds and spectacular landscapes.
Of course it would have been impossible for me to see all these species without the help of local experts who know the best corners of Bulgaria for bird watching and photography and who accompanied me during the trip helping me to identify and photograph many of the specimens. what do i mention next. Since I am not a professional I have preferred to show stock photos instead of my own…
This ornithological journey began in the Rhodope Mountains, a beautiful area in southern Bulgaria close to the border with Greece. In its western part the landscape is made up of rounded hills, pine covered, occasionally cut by valleys and rivers leading to deep gorges. One of them is the magnificent Trigrad Gorge which is the ideal home for the Treparriscos. (Tichodroma muraria). Between the vertical stone walls of the Trigrad Gorge, echoes of the King Swift also resonate (Tachymarptis melba) and the rock plane (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) along with the shrill call of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco). Meanwhile the European Water Blackbird (Cinclus cinclus), the gray wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) and the white wagtail (Motacilla alba) they are thrown on the transparent waters of the rivers.
In the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains the landscape is radically different, pointed spikes, deep cliffs and rocky slopes with sparse vegetation. The most spectacular resident birds of this area are the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) that inhabits the crater of an ancient volcano. The black vulture (Coragyps atratus), the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the European Pigargo (Haliaeetus albicilla) and the Imperial Eagle of the East (Aquila heliaca) they are also frequent visitors to the area looking for food. We also saw the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) nesting on the cliffs. The partridge of Chucar (Alectoris chukar) I stood watchful on the rocky slopes.
The high-pitched whistle of the Rock Climber (Sitta neumayer) and the song of the gardener scribe (Emberiza hortulana) could be heard everywhere. Other typical Balkan birds are as follows: the pale swift (A pus pale), the dauric swallow (Cecropis daurica), the lonely rocker (monlicola lone), the blonde wheaten (Oenanthe hispanica), the Eastern Warbler (Sylvia crnssirostris), the eastern mosquito net (Phylloscopus orientalis), the Pale Zarcero (Iduna pallida), the sibylline or gloomy chickadee (Poecile lugubris) and the black-headed Scribe (Emberiza melanocephala). We also made a visit to the Vulture Protection Center.
While driving towards the south of the Black Sea coast we stopped at the Sakar and Strandzha mountains, where we look, not always with luck, the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), the black gabilan (Accipiter brevipes), the Shrike (Lanius nubicus), the common shrike (Lanius senator), the big Zarcero (Hippolais olivetorum) and the Eastern Warbler (Sylvia crnssirostris). The Sakar Hills are an area of rounded hills and open valleys where most of the lower areas are covered with grass., with scattered trees, shrubs and farm plots, this area is the kingdom of the Imperial Eagle.
On the other hand, the Strandzha Mountains they are an endless chain of shallow peaks and thickly forested peaks that provide shelter for the Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata), the Shrike (Lanius nubicus), the Shrike (Lanius nubicus), the half-necked flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata), etc. The European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), woodpeckers, and the black-headed Scribe (Emberiza melanocephala) they are continuously seen on the road.
Already in the Black Sea coast, we explore the lakes around the city of Burgas, It is an extensive area of wetlands that form one of the richest areas for birds in Europe. The greatest interest of the Burgas wetlands is the huge flocks of Frowning pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and White pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). The shallow salt lakes of Pomorie and Atanassovko are still used as salt flats for the extraction of sea salt and are of great importance to a large number of birds including the Common Stork (Himantopus himantopus), the broad-billed hummingbird (Cynanthus latirostris), the Correlimos zarapitín (Calidris ferruginea), the fine Archibebe (Tringa stagnatilis), the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), the seagull (Larus genei), the Black-headed Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), the Pagaza piconegra (Gelochelidon nilotica) and the black-footed tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis).
Traveling north along the coast, we pass oak forests at the eastern end of the mountains of the Central Balkan National Park and the unique riverside forest Kamchia. On this route we could see the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), the pomeranian eagle (Pomarina eagle), the White Whistle (Peak aging), the medium Peak (Dendrocopos medius), the Hawk Warbler (Sylvia nisoria), the half-necked flycatcher (Ficedula semitorquata) and the sibylline or gloomy chickadee (Poecile lugubris).
Already on the north coast, we dedicated a day to the plateaus and cliffs of the Cabo Kaliakra, which, in addition to having spectacular views, It is the place that houses the Pink Starling (Pastor roseus), the pious collalba (Oenanthe pleschanka) and several species of alaudids such as the Common Calandria (Melanocorypha calandra), the common terrera (Calandrella brachydactyla) and the common Cogujada (Galerida cristata).
The common Alcarabán (Burhinus oedicnemus), the Lesser Shrike (Lanius minor), the country pipit (Anthus campestris) and the Elizabethan whelk (Oenanthe isabellina) they also find shelter in the vegetation of the plateau, while the coastal cliffs are home to the Shaggy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), the eagle owl (Bubo bubo) and the Moorish Mouser (Buteo rufinus). In spring the Mediterranean Shearwater (Pufﬁnus yelkouan) often sea fishing near the cape along with Parasitic Pag (Stercorarius parasiticus).
Another important area for bird watching on the north coast of the Black Sea is in the wetlands of Shabla and Durankulak, near the Romanian border. More of 80 species feed in the area of those two lakes, being the most interesting to see the Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), the common basket (Glareola pratincola), the brown Porrón (Aythya nyroca), the Red-legged Kestrel (Falco vespertinus) and the Lesser Shrike (Lanius minor). The area of the two lakes is one of the few places in Europe where the agricultural warbler (Acrocephalus agricola), a typical Asian species, can easily be seen feeding. You can also expect to see several species of European Heron, Little egret (Egretta garzetta), Pygmy cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus) and various species of migratory birds: waders, seagulls and swallows.
The next part of my ornithological journey took us to the Central Balkan mountain range. In the heart of this mountain range is the Central Balkan National Park that protects the largest beech forest mass in Europe. Bird species from different climatic zones coexist here, including many of the species of woodpeckers and owls that exist in Bulgaria. We arrive in the area in the afternoon and visit the beech forests looking for the red-headed flycatcher. (small eater), the White-backed Whistle (Dendrocopos leucotos), the black whistle (Dryocopus martius) and we still had the strength to make a night visit to the forest in search of the Ural Carabo (Strix uralensis).
Finally we explore the coniferous forests of the Vitosha Natural Park near the capital Sofia, looking for mountain birds like the common Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes), the common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), the black-capped blackbird (Sylvia gorilla gidju), the Striped Kinglet (Regulus ignicapilla), the Simple Kinglet (Regulus regulus), Great Tit Poecile montanus, the river pipit (Anthus spinoletta), the alpine accentor (Prunella collaris), the Alondra cornuda (Eremophila alpestris), etc…
During the trip we saw many Black Stork nests (Ciconia ciconia) and in the lower areas we saw specimens of the European Carraca almost everywhere (Coracias garrulus), the Abejaruco europeo (Merops apiaster), la Abubilla (Upupa epops), the Syrian Peak (Dendrocopos syriacus), the Pale Zarcero (Iduna pallida), Black-headed subspecies of the Wagtail Wagtail (Yellow wagtail), the Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), the Moorish Sparrow (Skip hispaniolensis), the Black-headed Scribe (Emberiza melanocephala) and the gardener bunting (Emberiza hortulana).
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This ornithological trip took place in Spring but if you wish you can travel at any time of the year, For example, discover our offer of Bird Watching in Bulgaria by clicking here: Winter Birds.