Winter Birding Tour In Bulgaria

This tour will take you to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast to explore two of the most important European wetlands for wintering geese. Every year hundreds of thousands of wild geese, among which almost the whole population of the globally threatened Red-breasted Goose, choose the northern Bulgarian lakes of Shabla and Durankulak as their wintering grounds. The less severe climate on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast allows us to enjoy wintering Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, various species of ducks, shorebirds, gulls, raptors and many more.

Day 1: The tour starts in early afternoon from the coastal town of Varna, as tour participants will be picked up from their hotels in the area or Varna Airport until 14.00 h (2pm). Transfer north to the town of Kavarna with stops for birding on the way. Accommodation in Kavarna for four nights.

Day 2, day 3 & day 4

We will spend these three days in the Coastal Dobroudzha – the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near the Romanian border, including the lakes of Shabla and Durankulak, where the geese roost. Early in the morning we will watch the geese “take off” – every day they leave the lakes and  fly inland to feed in the winter crop fields around. The numbers of  Red-breasted Goose vary between 5000 and 50000, depending on how severe the winter is.

While enjoying the Red-breasted Geese, we will also search for the Lesser White-fronted Goose. Usually checking the huge flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese is very productive and the Lesser White-fronted Goose can be spotted and identified. The White-tailed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Merlin, as well as the Great Bittern are common winter residents here. There are also good chances for viewing Greater Spotted Eagle, Saker Falcon, Caspian Gull and Pallas’s Gull at the lakes.

Offshore we can expect to see Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-crested Pochard and Greater Scaup.

One of these days we will also explore Cape Kaliakra – sheer cliffs towering up to 100 m above the seawater. There we can expect to see the Mediterranean subspecies of the European Shag, Eurasian Eagle Owl, possibly Wallcreeper, and various sea waterfowl. The adjacent steppe area hosts wintering Calandra Larks, Merlins, Long-legged Buzzards, etc. Rough-legged Buzzard, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl and Syrian Woodpecker can also be easily observed around.

Day 5 Drive to Bourgas area via Eastern Balkan range and Kamchia riverine forests, where our target species will be Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treeckreeper, Sombre Tit, Hawfinch and Cirl Bunting.

Accommodation in Bourgas area for three nights.

Day 6 & day 7

Bourgas wetlands: Atanasovsko Lake, Bourgas Lake, Mandra Lake and Poda lagoon.

Here we will be able to watch Pygmy Cormorant (nearly 10000 wintering in the area), Dalmatian Pelican (hundrerds wintering in Atanasovsko and Bourgas Lake) and Great White Pelican, Whooper Swan, Tundra Swan (ssp. bewickii)White-headed Duck (hundreds wintering in Vaya Lake), Greater Scaup, Smew, White-tailed Eagle, Bearded Reedling, Pallas’s Gull, Caspian Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull and other commoner wintering water birds. The open waters may hold the Ferruginous Duck too.

Day 8 Transfer to Varna airport for departure.

Download the check-list of birds likely to be seen on this tour.

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