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This tour has been designed in order to get the most out of Bulgaria’s and Greece’s bird life. We start in the spectacular Rhodopi mountains in south Bulgaria, where we will be looking for woodland specialities and wallcreeper. Later we move to the coastal lagoons of Nestos and Evros deltas – one of the largest rivers on the Balkans, accommodating most of the returning migrants on their way back home at that time of the year. We’ll also visit Rhodopi mountains in Greece, boasting with 36 species of raptors encountered there.The tour ends up in Burgas area – without doubt Bulgaria’s prime birdwatching destination.
Some of the birds we will encounter on the tour are: Dalmatian and White pelicans in full breeding plumage, Good number of raptors including Black, Griffon and Egyptian vultures, Wallcreeper, Rose-coloured starlings, Rock sparrow, Western rock nuthatch, Olive-tree warbler, Masked shrike and many more.
Day 1: Arrive Sofia and transfer to Trigrad with stop at Besapari hills for Short-toed and Calandra lark, Stone Curlew, Rose-coloured starlings, Imperial eagle.
Day 2: Trigrad. Full day in the area of the stunning Trigrad gorge – one of the deepest in Bulgaria, exploring it’s impressive bird life – Wallcreeper, Peregrine falcon, Rock bunting, Crested tit, Black woodpecker, Hazel grouse, Nutcracker.
Day 3: Trigrad – Melnik. Today we leave Trigrad and head for the foot of Pirin mountains and little town of Melnik. It is a picturesque drive between the two mountains. We’ll stop at Popovi livadi pass to get some more mountain birds like Nutcracker, Crossbill, Spotted flycatcher and Short-toed eagle.
Day 4: Melnik – the smallest Bulgarian town is situated among dramatic sandstone cliffs and is well-known for its wines. The area that we’ll explore today is one of the driest in the country. Possible birds include – Rock sparrow, Roller, Bee-eaters, Short-toed and Calandra larks and various Mediterranean warblers.
Day 5: Wednesday. Kerkini lake. Today we’ll go for a day trip to lake Kerkini in Northern Greece. The lake is one of Greece’s birding hot spots almost all year round. Spring is particularly good when migrants stop by and along with the local breeders make every visit unforgettable experience. Possible birds - Good number of Dalmatian and White pelicans in breeding plumage, some late Flamingoes, Whiskered tern, Slender-bill gull, Garganey, Glossy Ibis, Little bitterns and Squacko and Night heron, Cattle egret and numerous passerines in the bushes.
Day 6: Melnik – Lailas – Keramoti. Transfer to Nestos delta area with stop on the way to get some high altitude species – Alpine accentor, Rock thrush, Alpine choughs, Rock partridge, Black redstart, Water pipit.
Day 7: Nestos delta. Full day in the area, exploring the local lagoons. Nestos is one of the big rivers on the Balkans, famous for its birdlife. The delta is a protected area and one of Greece’s IBA. Here we will be looking for Spur-winged plover, Stone curlew, various migrating waders, Common, Gull-billed and Caspian terns, Med and Little gulls.
Day 8: Keramoti – Nestos gorge – Porto Lagos. Today we’ll go for one day trip to Porto lagos area, stopping on route at the Mestos gorge for Blue rock thrush, Rock nuthatch, Subalpine warbler, Short-toed and Golden eagle and maybe Griffon vultures.
Day 9: Keramoti – Evros Delta. Transfer to Evros delta with stop halfway to visit several small coastal marshes and check a colony of Lesser kestrels.
Day 10: Evros delta. Full day exploring the delta, on foot or on a boat. Evros is the first safe ground the birds hit coming back from Africa and that can make this place special at the right time of the year. The delta itself is divided between Greece and Turkey and has always been restricted area, where birds rest and feed undisturbed. We have option to drive around the delta looking for migrants or take a boat tour to take a close up at Pelicans, Pigmy cormorants, Herons and wildfowl. Possible birds – Spur-winged plover, Dalmatian and White pelicans, Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous duck, Short-toed eagle, Eleonora’s falcon, Black stork and various waders.
Day 11: Evros – Dadia. Today we’ll spent the morning around the delta to check the latest on the migration front and then we’ll move on to Dadia in the Rhodopi mountains - the Greek stronghold of the Black vulture.
Day 12: Dadia. In the morning we will visit the local conservation activities and take a short ride/or walk to Dadia feeding station to watch Black, Griffon and Egyptian vultures. The hide is also good place to see Imperial eagle, Lesser-spotted eagle, Booted and Bonelli’s eagle, Lanner falcon and Peregrine. In the afternoon we’ll explore the forests meadows around Dadia and look for more birds of prey, Red backed and Lesser grey shrike, Olivacous and Orphean warbler.
Day 13: Dadia – Burgas. Drive from Dadia to Burgas with stop at Strandzha mountains for Syrian and Great spotted woodpeckers, Sombre tit, Masked shrike, Montagu’s harrier, Yellow hammer and Cirl bunting.
Day 14: Burgas lakes. Full day spent at the lakes around Burgas to watch wader, gulls, terns and wildfowl. Possible birds – Collared pratincole, Red-necked phalarope, Slender-bill gull, Little gull, White-tailed sea eagle, Ferruginous duck, Pigmy cormorant. In the afternoon we’ll go to Pomorie lake and salt works, looking for waders on the move and then we’ll explore large inland reservoir and the adjacent woods for Lesser grey, Red-backed and possibly Masked shrike, Isabeline wheatear , Ruddy shell duck, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Green, Grey-headed and Syrian woodpeckers, Ortolan and Cirl bunting.
Day 15: Take a flight back home from Burgas International Airport.
Wallcreeper at Trigrad gorge
Pigmy cormorant at lake Kerkini
Western rock nuthatch
Spur-winged plover at Evros delta
Sub-alpine warbler at Evros hills
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