Friday 16th - Thursday 22nd February 2018BULGARIA IN WINTER - BLACK SEA BIRDING
Due to its relatively mild winters, the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria is a haunt for thousands of wintering birds including many rare and scarce species. The most important of these is the Red-breasted Goose and in January and February, almost the whole world population winters in Bulgaria!
Other wintering species that occur in large numbers include Pygmy Cormorant, White-headed Duck and Dalmatian Pelicans. In addition to these fantastic birds, we have the chance to see Lesser White-fronted Geese, Greater Spotted Eagles and Pallas's Gull of which small numbers winter on the saltpans and marshes around Burgas.
Winter is also an excellent time to spot mammals which may include Golden Jackal, Eurasian Otter and European Wildcat.
Tour Leaders: Dobromir Domuschiev/Daniel Mitev & Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 12
We take an early morning flight from London Luton to Varna on the Black Sea coast and transfer to our hotel. After checking in we spend the remainder of the day birding the local area hoping to get our first sightings of Red-breasted Geese.
Overnight: Near Durankulak
Days 2 - 3
The next two days will be spent exploring areas around Shabla and Durankulak Lakes which are situated close to the Romanian border. These brackish wetlands surrounded by wheat fields are home to our main goal, the Red-breasted Goose. Just over 23,000 were recorded in February 2017 along with 47,000 Greater White-fronted Geese and smaller numbers of Taiga Bean and Greylag Geese. Checking carefully through the flocks may reward us with sightings of Lesser White-fronted Goose, a scarce winter visitor to the area.
The open water of the lakes and Black Sea are home to Black-necked and Red-necked Grebes, Black-throated and Red-throated Divers, Pygmy Cormorants, Ferruginous Duck and Whooper Swans. The extensive numbers of wildfowl attract raptors such as Rough-legged and Long-legged Buzzards, Hen Harrier, Northern Goshawk, White-tailed Eagle, Merlin and with luck we may see Greater Spotted Eagle or Saker Falcon.
Vast reed-beds, agricultural fields and mixed woodlands surrounding these outstanding lakes hold Moustached Warbler, Calandra Larks, Hawfinch, Syrian Woodpecker and Bearded Tit amongst others. As dusk falls we will visit a rocky gorge in search of the impressive Eurasian Eagle-Owl.
Overnight: Near Durankulak
After a good breakfast we head south making our way to the Goritsa Hills where the vast Oak forests host a range of species such as woodpeckers including Grey-headed, Black, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Great Spotted and Lesser Spotted plus Short-toed Treecreeper, Sombre Tit and many more. Late in the afternoon we reach Burgas and our hotel for the next three nights.
Days 5 - 6
The important bird area (IBA's) and RAMSAR sites of Burgas wetlands are home to a rich diversity of birdlife during the winter and it will produce some exciting birds. Pygmy Cormorants, Red-crested Pochards, up to 1000 White-headed Ducks, Smew, Eurasian Spoonbill and breeding plumaged Dalmatian Pelicans make a sight to behold. In recent years the scarce Pallas's Gull has been found in small numbers during the winter around Burgas.
The deciduous woodlands nearby support good numbers of birds including Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Great Grey Shrike, Grey-headed, Syrian and both Middle-spotted and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. The area also has a healthy population of Eurasian Otter and winter is the best time to see them whilst out feeding.
We head north towards Varna making a few birding stops along the way before our flight back to the UK.
Flights from London Luton to Varna
Full board accommodation for 6 nights
All ground transport in Bulgaria
Full guiding services
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day one
Relaxed, one to two miles walking per day
Expect between 100 and 120 species
Ground Price: £920
*Air Price: £290
Total Tour Price: £1210
Single Supplement: £100
*Please see our tours page regarding flight costs