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BULGARIA

The Best Birding in the Balkans

Birdquest’s Bulgaria birding tour explores the richest country for birdwatching in Southeastern Europe. Our Bulgaria tour is a highly enjoyable springtime journey in search of the country's many specialities, which include Levant Sparrowhawk and Semi-collared Flycatcher, two very special birds, as well as Yelkouan Shearwater, Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Cinereous Vulture, Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears, Paddyfield and Olive-tree Warblers, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Masked Shrike, Rosy Starling, Black-headed Bunting and the wonderful Wallcreeper.

Sunday 13th May — Sunday 20th May 2018
(8 days)


Leaders: Mark Van Beirs and a local bird guide

Group Size Limit: 10

Tour Category: Easy walking and mostly comfortable accommodations

The nomadic Rosy Starling is highly unpredictable, and in some years is present in its thousands (János Oláh)

The nomadic Rosy Starling is highly unpredictable, and in some years is present in its thousands (János Oláh)

Bulgaria, a small Slavic nation in the southeastern corner of the Balkans, is now well-established as one of the prime destinations in Europe for birdwatchers. Due to its political history, Bulgaria was long shrouded in secrecy and until relatively recently even Bulgarians were not allowed to visit their own border regions! Fortunately, with the collapse of communism and Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union, times have radically changed and Bulgaria’s now democratic government is happy to see visitors wandering unhindered throughout the country. As a result visiting birders can now discover an avifauna that is as rich as the scenery is beautiful, with a host of specialities and other great birds.

Prime amongst the country’s specialities are Levant Sparrowhawk and Semi-collared Flycatcher, species that many birders are yet to see. A wonderful supporting cast includes Cinereous (or Eurasian Black) Vulture, Eastern Imperial and Lesser Spotted Eagles, Paddyfield and Olive-tree Warblers, Sombre Tit, the splendid Wallcreeper, Rosy Starling, Masked Shrike and Black-headed Bunting.

Within a country four-fifths the size of England there is packed a landscape that encompasses high alpine mountains, deep gorges channelling rapidly tumbling rivers, rolling, scrub-covered hills, wide cultivated plains, dark spruce and twisted oak forests, marshes and lakes, cliffs that plummet vertically into the sea and the gentle sandy beaches of the Black Sea coastline. This is a country where peasant traditions are still very much in evidence and traditional farming methods widespread. Here the shepherd still watches his sheep working their way across the hillside, the horse and cart vies with the motor car on the roads and everywhere in the countryside there is a sense of a way of life that has continued largely unchanged for many years.

We will begin our tour in the capital Sofia, quickly moving on to the valleys and gorges of the Rhodope Mountains, situated along the Greek border, which hold the unique and much sought-after Wallcreeper as well as Pallid Swift. Moving further east, amongst the rivers, rounded hills and rocky outcrops of the eastern Rhodope, we will watch Black Stork, the stately Eastern Imperial Eagle, Egyptian and Eurasian Griffon Vultures, the rare Cinereous Vulture, Chukar, Syrian Woodpecker, Black-eared Wheatear, Eastern Olivaceous, Subalpine, Eastern Orphean and Barred Warblers, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, the lovely Masked Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, and Black-headed Bunting. Closer to the coast, Isabelline Wheatear and Olive-tree Warbler will vie for our attentions.

Burgas, a port city on the Black Sea, is surrounded by rich lakes and lagoons of outstanding ornithological importance, especially during the migration period. Here we can expect Great White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck and White-tailed Eagle, as well as an abundance of herons, waders, gulls and terns. In the coastal forests are two specialities that have been seen by relatively few birders; Levant Sparrowhawk and Semi-collared Flycatcher, as well as Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

Heading further north to Kavarna we will visit Cape Kaliakra with its dramatic limestone cliffs, Yelkouan Shearwaters and breeding Pied Wheatears and Rosy Starlings, while our explorations at Lake Durankulak should produce Paddyfield Warbler on its westernmost European breeding grounds and Red-footed Falcon on migration. Finally, at Lake Srebârna in the Danube Valley, we shall visit a colony of the endangered Dalmatian Pelican.

By the end of our Bulgarian week we will have encountered a whole series of Europe’s most exciting and most wanted birds.

Birdquest has operated tours to Bulgaria since 1994.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and guesthouses are of good to medium standard. Road transport is by minibus and road conditions are nowadays mostly good or reasonable.

Walking: Easy throughout.

Climate: Warm, dry and sunny weather is interspersed with cool, wet and overcast periods.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

Tour Price: £1290, €1520, $1690 Sofia/Bucharest.

Single Room Supplement: £112, €132, $147. Deposit: £300, €360, $390.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in Euros. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = €1.180 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The rare Dalmatian Pelican will be another rarity that we should find on this great tour (János Oláh)

The rare Dalmatian Pelican will be another rarity that we should find on this great tour (János Oláh)

The beautiful Masked Shrike is a star bird of southeastern Bulgaria  (Pete Morris)

The beautiful Masked Shrike is a star bird of southeastern Bulgaria (Pete Morris)

The scarce Lesser Spotted Eagle will be another of our targets (János Oláh)

The scarce Lesser Spotted Eagle will be another of our targets (János Oláh)

Eastern Imperial Eagle will be top of our raptor want list (János Oláh)

Eastern Imperial Eagle will be top of our raptor want list (János Oláh)

... as will the uncommon Levant Sparrowhawk (János Oláh)

... as will the uncommon Levant Sparrowhawk (János Oláh)

... with the attractive Red-footed Falcon not far behind! (János Oláh)

... with the attractive Red-footed Falcon not far behind! (János Oláh)

Another view of a fabulous male Red-footed Falcon (János Oláh)

Another view of a fabulous male Red-footed Falcon (János Oláh)

In the wetlands, we will be delighted to see the attractive White-winged Tern (János Oláh)

In the wetlands, we will be delighted to see the attractive White-winged Tern (János Oláh)

...and the localized Pygmy Cormorant (János Oláh)

...and the localized Pygmy Cormorant (János Oláh)

Middle Spotted Woodpecker occurs in mature deciduous forest (János Oláh)

Middle Spotted Woodpecker occurs in mature deciduous forest (János Oláh)

The colourful Ortolan Bunting (János Oláh)

The colourful Ortolan Bunting (János Oláh)

... and the smart Sombre Tit (János Oláh)

... and the smart Sombre Tit (János Oláh)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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