Bulgaria – easy birding on the Black Sea coast

An easy birdwatching tour, focusing on the southbound migrants of the Black Sea coast.

The Black Sea flyway, known as the Via Pontica, is one of the busiest migration routes in Europe, rivalling those of Gibraltar and the Bosphorus, as the birds of northern Europe are funnelled through the bottle neck between the coast and the mountains, on their way south.

We start around the Bourgas wetlands. Here one of the great attractions should be the huge flocks of pelicans that roost on the lakes during their migration. The shallows of Atanasovsko Lake attract a good variety of waders, with Broad-billed or Marsh Sandpipers a strong possibility.

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We spend a morning at Dyulinksi Pass, a superb watchpoint at the end of the Eastern Balkan Range from where we hope to observe the migration of raptors and other soaring birds – White and Black Storks; Lesser Spotted, Booted and Short-toed Eagles; Levant Sparrowhawk, Honey Buzzard Red-footed Falcon, and four harrier species may all pass overhead.

The second part of our holiday is spent in coastal Dobroudzha, exploring the remnant steppe grasslands and dramatic cliffs of Cape Kaliakra, home to breeding Calandra Lark and Pied Wheatear, with migrant larks, pipits, chats and shrikes. The area is also home to the highest density of Wild Cats in Europe, an exciting possibility on any visit.

Nearby, the great lakes of Durankulak and Shabla attract mixed flocks of Whiskered and Black Terns. Amongst the wildfowl and water birds we should be able to pick out Ferruginous Duck and Pygmy Cormorant; the surrounding bushes may hold migrating warblers, flycatchers, shrikes and chats, alongside resident Syrian Woodpecker.

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Wildlife Travel Bulgaria autumn 2015

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

Dates

8 – 15 September 2018

Leader

Laurie Jackson with local guides

Price

£1,545

Single Room Supplement – £95

Included

Return flights from UK. Seven nights’ accommodation, full board basis. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary.

Not included

Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

This holiday is suitable for anyone with an all round interest in natural history, although the impressive migration of a great range of birds will be the main focus, with plenty of Balkan specialities promised.

Day 1 – Our fight takes us to Bourgas on the Black Sea coast from where we transfer to our hotel in nearby Sozopol.

Days 2 – 4 – We will explore the Bourgas area, in particular its internationally important wetlands. The three large but very different lakes attract large numbers of wading birds, herons, pelicans, gulls and terns. We will also spend a day at Dyulinksi Pass migration watch point – in the right conditions, this can be one of the most impressive visual migrations in Europe – we can hope to see Lesser Spotted, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, harriers, buzzards and falcons, storks and pelicans, sometimes in very large numbers.

Day 5 – A travelling day takes us north towards Varna. We will visit the salt pans of Pomorie Lake and the oak woodlands of Goritsa, before we arrive in Kavarna, our home for the next three nights.

Days 6 – 7 – We will spend time exploring Cape Kaliakra and the nearby steppe, where migrant flycatchers, chats, shrikes and warblers should be passing through the bushes. This area has one of the highest densities of Wild Cat in Europe, and you have a very realistic chance of catching a glimpse of one hunting over the steppe. We will also visit two interesting wetlands – Lakes Durankulak and Shabla.

Day 8 – Our time in Bulgaria has come to an end, and after breakfast we head south again, to Bourgas and our flights home.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.

Our accommodation will be at good three-star local hotels, all with en-suite accommodation.

Meals provided during the stay will be a mixture of Balkan and International dishes, with an emphasis on local cuisine and plenty of salads. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.

Transport will be by small bus, minibus or smaller vehicles if necessary.

 

The group flights are with Thomas Cook from London Gatwick.

8 September depart London Gatwick 07.15, arrive Bourgas 12.45

15 September depart Bourgas 14.10, arrive London Gatwick 15.40

Bulgaria is two hours ahead of UK time.

If you hold a UK passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Bulgaria. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.

At this time of year the weather is usually sunny but not too hot. However, as with everywhere the weather is no longer entirely predictable, and there may be some cooler weather, rain or wind.

On most days, we are out and about for much of the day, albeit walking a relatively slow pace and making several stops each day. It is necessary to walk on rougher ground and up some slopes, although none of the walking is strenuous. Walking boots are essential. There are steps at our hotels, often with no lift, as well as up/down into the vehicles.