Friday 18th – Wednesday 23rd May 2018NORTHERN GREECE & SOUTHWEST BULGARIA – PELICANS AND PYGMIES
With excellent birding opportunities, Northern Greece and Bulgaria offer a great range of species in a vast variety of habitats. Lake Kerkini has recently become one of the most famous and popular wetlands in Europe mainly because of its Dalmatian and White Pelican nesting colonies. Every spring the lake comes alive with thousands of birds making this a fantastic birding experience!
With over 450 pairs of Pygmy Cormorant, 100 pairs of Spoonbill, 800 pairs of Black-crowned Night Heron plus 200 pairs of Dalmatian and White Pelicans we are in for some great birding! Bulgaria cannot be outshone with superb species such as Levant Sparrowhawk, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Masked Shrike and Eastern Orphean Warbler amongst others.
This our third tour to the area is a relaxing break with one base. It includes amazing views of a nesting colony of egret species, along with magnificent scenery, food and accommodation.
Tour Leader: Dobromir Domuschiev & Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 12
We take a morning flight from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki Airport and transfer (about one and half hours) to the northern shore of Lake Kerkini. After checking in we spend time birding the local area and hope to see Black-headed Bunting, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike, Cirl Bunting and Eurasian Golden Oriole whilst overlooking the magnificent lake.
For this entire tour our base is a small family run hotel which serves excellent food and overlooks the lake, it is perfectly situated for our daily excursions.
Days 2 - 4
During the next three days we will fully explore the lake and its environs where we can expect an excellent variety of species. There are Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Glossy Ibis, Purple, Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons, Spoonbill, Little Bittern and Great Egret whilst good numbers of Black, White-winged and Whiskered Terns feed over the open water.
Many waders pass through the area on their northbound migration and with luck we may find Spur-winged Lapwing or something rarer such as Terek Sandpiper!
A major highlight is the boat trip out to the breeding colony of Eurasian Spoonbills, herons and Pelicans and on past tours this has been an unforgettable experience for many.
Migrating Red-footed Falcons pass through and local breeding species of raptor include Levant Sparrowhawk, Black Kite, Northern Goshawk, Lesser Spotted, Booted, Short-toed Snake and White-tailed Eagles. The open grassland and reed-beds support Marsh and Montagu's Harriers whilst the woodlands are home to Common, Long-legged and European Honey Buzzards.
We can expect to see passerines such as Western Rock Nuthatch, Olive-tree Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear, Great Reed Warbler, Masked Shrike, European Roller and European Bee-eater amongst others.
We will also visit a river valley to the north of the lake where Subalpine, Sardinian and Eastern Orphean Warblers breed along with Red-rumped Swallow, Long-legged Buzzard and Golden Eagle plus many more.
The Bulgarian border is a mere thirty minutes away from our hotel and an hour’s drive north will take us to prime birding sites that could provide Levant Sparrowhawk, Honey Buzzard and possibly Eleonora's Falcon plus Black Stork, Masked Shrike and European Roller. Also we may see that Balkan speciality, Semi-collared Flycatcher which nests in the woodland.
We also have the option of visiting another site further away to search for Common Rock and Blue Rock Thrushes, Rock Sparrow, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Ortolan Bunting plus much more.
As well as the birds, we can expect to see a good selection of Balkan butterflies including Large Copper, Grüner's Orange-tip, Eastern and Southern Festoons, Southern White Admiral, Common Glider, Iolas Blue and Yellow-banded Skipper amongst others.
After a good breakfast we say goodbye to our hosts and head towards Thessaloniki, where if time permits we will explore an area of coastal lagoons before taking our flight home.
Flights from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki
Full board accommodation for 5 nights
All ground transport in Greece and Bulgaria
Lake Kerkini boat trip
Full guiding services
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day one
Relaxed, one to two miles walking per day
Expect between 150 and 170 species
Ground Price: £1090
*Air Price: £150
Total Tour Price: £1240
Single Supplement: £90
*Please see our tours page regarding flight costs