The tour starts from Varna (on the Black Sea coast) at 14.00 h in the afternoon (2 p.m.), at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Varna Airport or from their accommodation place within the city of Varna if they have arrived earlier. Then we will head north and after an hour driving we will reach the northern Bulgarian coast (Coastal Dobroudzha) and check-in for three nights. On the way we can stop at one of the Eagle Owl sites in the area to try to see this impressive bird, as well as at other interesting nature sites.
Coastal Dobroudzha: The coastal lakes of Durankulak and Shabla.
In the lakes we expect to see a big variety of birds, including the Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Marsh Harrier, Bearded Reedling, the tick-billed race of the Common Reed Bunting (ssp. reiseri), several races of Yellow Wagtail and various migrating species of herons, gulls, terns, shore-birds. Some migrating species of birds of prey like the Montagu’s Harrier, Short-toed Eagle and Red-footed Falcon are also very likely to be seen here.
In the sand dunes separating the lakes from the sea we may find some interesting plants like Alyssum borzaeanum, Silene thymifolia, Glaucium glavum, Euphorbia lucida.
Coastal Dobroudzha: The steppes and cliffs around Cape Kaliakra.
Here are the last remnants of the Great Steppe, formerly occupying the bigger part of the region. The kaleidoscopic hues of wild peonies, irises and adonises in spring create the special appeal of this area.
The bird diversity in this area includes Mediterranean subspecies of European Shag (ssp. desmarestii), Long-legged Buzzard, Stone Curlew, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Pied Wheatear and Corn Bunting.
Some of the main species of plants to be seen in the colorful steppes and arid areas include Paeonia tenuifolia, Adonis vernalis, Adonis flammea, Artemisia pedemontana, Asphodeline lutea, Iris pumila, Scutellaria orientalis, Salvia nutans, Nonnea atra, Ruta glaveolens, Euphorbia myrsinites, Stipa lessingiana, Silene caliacrae, Salvia austriaca, Salvia aethiops, Centaurea thirkei, etc., as well as a lot of species of Potentilla, Onosma, Vicia, Lathyrus, Pisum, Artemisia.
Transfer to the southern Bulgarian coast through the Kamchia riverine forests and the Eastern Balkan Mountains. The birds likely to be seen include the Black Stork, Honey Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit and Cirl Bunting.
Rollers and Bee-eaters will be present everywhere en-route.
The accommodation for the next three nights will be in the picturesque town of Sozopol (30 km south of Bourgas).
Today we will explore the Strandzha Mountains, located in the south-eastern corner of Bulgaria, where in the deciduous forests of Fagus orientalis, Quercus polycarpa, Quercus hartwissiana we will be looking for the White-backed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser spotted Woodpecker and Short-toed Treecreeper. In the forests and open areas we could find a big variety of rare plants, incl. Daphne pontica, Epimedium pubigerum, Laurocerasus officinalis, Ilex colchica, Mespulus germanica, Pyracantha coccinea, Stachys thracica, Verbascum bugulifolium, Geranium asphodeloides, etc.
This day is dedicated to the wetlands surrounding the city of Bourgas: Mandra Lake, Atanasovsko lake and Bourgas lake.
One of the biggest attractions of the Bourgas wetlands are the huge flocks of Dalmatian and White Pelicans making a long stop there during migration.
Other species of birds likely to be seen there include the Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, White-tailed Eagle, Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls, Gull-billed Tern, Penduline Tit and many other migrating waders, shorebirds and waterfowl.
Transfer southwest to the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, with a long stop in the Sakar Hills, where we will be looking for the Eastern Imperial Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Hoopoe, Isabelline Wheatear, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Masked Shrike, Black-headed Bunting, plus colonies of European Souslik – a cute looking rodent, inhabiting the local pastures.
Accommodation in the area of Krumovgrad in the Eastern Rhodopes for three nights.
12 May and 13 May
The Eastern Rhodopes – we will be exploring various habitats – cliffs, arid areas, dry deciduous forests and shrubs, river habitats, plus visiting one of the vulture feeding places in the area.
Main birds to be seen here: Griffon Vulture, Cinerous (Eurasian Black) Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Booted, Short-toed and Golden eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Black Stork, Chukar, Scops Owl, Sombre Tit, Black-eared Wheatear (the eastern race ssp. melanoleuca), Isabelline Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Bonelli’s, Eastern Orphean, Subalpine and Sardinian warblers, Woodchat Shrike, Ortolan, Western Rock Nuthatch.
The range of beautiful and rare plants in the Eastern Rhodopes includes Hypericum moutbretti, Onosma thracica, Inula adschersoniana, Campanula cervicaria, Smyrnium perfoliatum, Orchis papilionacea, Ophrys cornuta and many others.
Transfer to Sofia with possible stops in nature sites on the way. The time of arrival in Sofia will depend on the date and time of the departure of the tour participants.