Birds and Butterflies of Northern Greece & Southwest Bulgaria

Tuesday 7th - Tuesday 14th May 2024

With excellent wildlife watching opportunities, Northern Greece and Southwest 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 large heron, egret and 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.

Early spring around the lake is a great place for butterflies including Inky Skipper, Kruper’s Small White, Nettle-tree Butterfly, Large Tortoiseshell, Eastern Festoon and many more.

Tour Leader: Zdravko Kolev & Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 12

Day 1
We take a morning flight from London 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 and is perfectly situated for our daily excursions.
Overnight: Akritochori

Days 2 – 6
During the next five 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, Eurasian 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 and Eleonora’s 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, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Penduline Tit, 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 village of Sidirikastro where Eastern Subalpine, Sardinian and Eastern Orphean Warblers breed along with Red-rumped Swallow, Long-legged Buzzard and Golden Eagle plus many more.

Butterflies that occur around Lake Kerkini included Lattice Brown, Eastern Knapweed Fritillary. Nettle-tree Butterfly, Eastern Baton Blue, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue and many more.
Overnight: Akritochori

Day 7
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, European Honey Buzzard and possibly Eleonora’s Falcon plus Black Stork, Black-headed Bunting, Masked Shrike and European Roller. 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 and Ortolan Bunting plus much more.

As well as the birds, we hope to see a good selection of Balkan butterflies including Large Copper, Grüner’s Orange-tip, Kruper’s Small White, Inky Skipper, Eastern and Southern Festoons, Balkan Green-veined White, Southern Comma, Southern White Admiral, White-banded Grayling, Common Glider, Lolas & Lang’s Short-tailed Blues and Yellow-banded Skipper amongst others.
Overnight: Akritochori

Day 8
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.

Tour includes
Full board accommodation for 7 nights
Ground transport in Greece & Bulgaria
Full guiding throughout

Not included
Flights
Travel Insurance
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day 1

Pace
Relaxed, three to four miles walking per day

Butterflies
Expect around 60 species

Birds
Expect between 120 and 140 species

Tour Cost: £1690 (excluding flights)

* Estimated Flight Cost: £295

Single Supplement: £190

Deposit: £400

*Please see our flights page for more details

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