A 8-days relaxing holiday to witness the spectacular autumn bird migration along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Via Pontica - late autumn migration
Saturday 21st - Saturday 28th September 2013
This tour gives you the opportunity to see more than 140 bird species and to witness the
spectacular autumn migration on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Along it is the second biggest bird migration route in Europe – Via Pontica. Every autumn more than 90 000 raptors, 30 000 pelicans, 240 000 storks as well as thousands of waders and passerines fly over here to their wintering grounds. The Bulgarian Black Sea coast and especially its southern part is a “bottle-neck” for the migrating birds from all Eastern Europe, also Scandinavia and Russia.That’s why it is likely to see more than 50 000 storks or 3 000 pelicans or 8 000 Lesser Spotted eagles just in a single day!
Our tour dates will allow us to see good variety of species, many of them in considerable numbers, especially raptors. We will also see waders, gulls, pelicans and passerines. Our main observation areas will be several wetlands along the Black Sea coast – Burgas lakes as well as Shabla and Durankulak lakes in the north. We will however visit also the step, forests, shrubs, grasslands and rocky habitats where we will find different birds.
Rare raptors may include Pallid and Montague’s harriers, Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon etc. We expect great numbers of some of the species – Lesser Spotted Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Red-footed Falcon.
Despite a bit late for some of the waders, we will look for species such as Terek, Broad-billed, Marsh and Curlew sandpipers, Temminck’s Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, Collared and Black-winged pratincoles, Slender-billed Gull, Caspian and marsh terns, Baillon’s, Little and Spotted crakes; Red-throated Pipit, Sombre Tit and many more.
It will be a relaxing holiday, with only two bases to be used. Both hotels are situated next to very good birding locations and very close to the Black Sea.
Arrival at Varna airport followed by one hour transfer to Shabla. We will be based in a small hotel for the next three nights. Accommodation and if the time permits, short walk in the surroundings where we can see warblers, shrikes and sea birds.
Today we will explore Durankulak and Shabla lakes at our leisure – both are important step stones for migrating species. Here we will see White and Dalmatian pelicans, Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorant, herons, terns, passerines, raptors and possibly some attractive waders – Marsh, Curlew, and Broad-billed sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Temminck's Stint etc.
This day will be devoted to the area of Kaliakra step reserve – the last remaining steppe habitat in Bulgaria. The step is lifted at more than 100 m above the sea, and the vertical cliffs create not only picturesque view, but also very favourable conditions for the soaring migrants – storks and pelicans, as well as raptors – Red-footed Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Lesser Spotted Eagle and possibly all the harriers. Additionally thousands of passerines follow the migration road. Here we have the chance of finding adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher which is a stunning view.
We will also have the chance to catch local breeders like Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark, Eagle Owl and many more.
Today we move south. Our first stop will be at forest hill where we can see several species of woodpeckers – White-backed, Middle and Lesser Spotted, Short-toed Treecreeper and other woodland species. After a lunch here we continue south, visiting Pomorie Lake where many waders, terns and passerines rest and feed. In the evening we arrive in our hotel in Pomorie where we stay for the next four nights.
Days 5 and 6
Both days we spend around Burgas wetlands. Here we will enjoy numerous migrating Lesser Spotted and Short-toed eagles, Red-footed falcons, Levant sparrowhawks, harriers, Hobbies, as well as White-tailed eagle and Osprey. The gulls include – Mediterranean, Slender-billed, Little and Yellow-legged, several species of terns and ducks will be also seen. These wetlands are real paradise for the waders, so a lot of species in considerable numbers will be also seen. Despite late, we still have the chance for some of the rarest – includning Terek, Broad-billed, Marsh and Curlew sandpipers, Red-necked Phalarope, Spotted Redshank, Temnick's Stint and many more. We will also see Dalmatian and White pelicans, Pigmy Cormorant, Purple Heron, possibly Ferruginous Duck and Baillon's, Little and Spotted crakes, Penduline and Sombre tits.
Today we shall visit Strandzha Mountain as the deciduous forests here are excellent habitat for woodland birds. We expect to see White-backed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Grey-headed, Black, Green, and Great Spotted woodpeckers. Other species may well include Red-breasted flycatcher, Hawfinch, Hoopoe and Cirl Bunting. On the way we visit two more coastal wetlands for Pygmy Cormorant, Little Grebe, Squacco and Purple herons, Garganey, and again some waders. Back to our hotel in Pomorie for the last night within the tour.
Transfer to Varna airport with several stops for birding, depending on your return flight. Departure.
Little Gull is numerous during migration. Photo Dobromir Domuschiev
Male Red-breasted Flycatcher by Emil Enchev
Short-toed Eagle by Dobromir Domuschiev
"I have been on six bird tours with Dobry to date and that in itself tells you that I am a very satisfied customer. His expertise in bird identification is truly inspiring. His keen eyesight and hearing seem to me remarkable. However, there is more to a tour than just finding the birds to make it a successful, memorable and very enjoyable one. Dobry always ensures that all participants have comfortable hotel rooms and good places to eat. Not once do I recall any tour member complaining about any aspect of accommodation or food. Nothing is too much trouble for Dobry in making sure every aspect of every member`s experience is as good as it can be. He is always cheerful, kind and very considerate. Perhaps above all, you always feel you are in very safe hands. I think that says it all."
Lecturer in Ornithology in former Dept. of Professional and Continuing Education, Keele University and at Birmingham University.
Tutor for Workers Educational Association in Field Study of Birds