• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Albania in April 2024 (4 Viewers)


Back from a two weeks trip to Albania. It was a family holiday, actually together with a friend's family, 4 kids between 8 and 12. So birding was certainly not at the center of the trip, but I have become good in tweaking the itinerary of family trips with sufficient stops in interesting places. Also, the rest of the bunch liked to do late starts, which gave me usually a couple of hours early morning to explore the surroundings and look for birds.

The plan was to focus on the South-Western Part of Albania, as we wanted to limit driving distances (and as bird wise it seemed quite interesting).

As we try to avoid flying too much in Europe, we took the long but entertaining route, by train to Bari (sleeper from Milano) and then the night ferry to Durres. Rather relaxed trip, with a nice day spent in Bari. Nothing eventful in Bari birdwise, apart from surprise Monk Parakeets, I wasn't aware of their presence there.

From Durres, we used rental cars (Rent Point Albania, decent cars, good prices) and made a first stop about 1h south at the coast in the Divjaka-Karavasta protected area. This is a very nice and large coastal lagoon, a rather wild estuary, Pine forest and a long wild beach. In summer it is likely more busy, but now there were only a few local fishermen around. Perfect spot for the family to relax on the beach after the long trip and for me to find a first nice batch of birds.
Last edited:
The Divjaka-Karavasta lagoon is the main (only?) breading place of Dalmatian Pelicans in Albania, so this was the main target. But there was plenty more.

The first quick walk to the beach was already very nice birding, as the best beach was located near a a shallow branch of the estuary. There were plenty of Greater Flamingo around, 1 Dalmatian Pelican and a good assortment of waders. There were many Kentish Plovers, Grey Plovers, Knots, and more. There were also 10 resting Caspian Tern and a single Gull-billed tern.

I also enjoyed the many Red-rumped Swallows, which I am not used to and which could be observed nicely.

I later made a walk to an observation tower overlooking the lagoon, where the Pelican breading islands could also be seen. I counted around 40 Pelicans, but I heard later that they have around 60 breading pairs here.

We also did a pleasant boat trip to another tower, similar birds but fun for the kids.


  • 20240408_184905.jpg
    2 MB · Views: 19
  • P1278203.JPG
    4.8 MB · Views: 19
  • IMG_20240409_073434.jpg
    5.2 MB · Views: 20
  • P1278225.JPG
    3.1 MB · Views: 19
  • P1278256.JPG
    5.1 MB · Views: 19
  • P1050127.JPG
    5.8 MB · Views: 18
  • P1278316.JPG
    1.3 MB · Views: 19
Next stop was Gijrokastra, a beautiful well preserved historic town with Ottoman architecture and an impressive castle. The road there followed the Vjosa river, one of the last wild flowing rivers in Europe and recently declared a national part. The river, at times widely meandering, and times flowing through narrow canons, and surrounding landscape are truly beautiful.


  • P1050225.JPG
    6.4 MB · Views: 15
  • P1050254.JPG
    5.9 MB · Views: 14
  • P1050256.JPG
    6.3 MB · Views: 14
  • P1050354.JPG
    6 MB · Views: 15
  • IMG_20240414_080549.jpg
    4.9 MB · Views: 15
  • P1050559.JPG
    6.2 MB · Views: 15
Last edited:
The gardens of Gijrokastra had many Nightingales singing around the clock. Cirl Buntings were also pretty common. Above the castle, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows were circling, as were Common and Alpine Swifts.

At the edge of the town there was a beautiful small gorge with a historic bridge, which made for a nice morning walk. I found three lifers here: Western Rock Nuthatch, Eastern Subalpine Warbler and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. All beautiful birds! One morning, when my daughter joined, we also found a Blue Rock Thrush and the first Hoopoe of the year and the trip.

Here a short clip with my three lifers:
Last edited:
After Gijrokastra, we made a stop in Permet, a pleasant little town. Nearby, there is a beautiful stream with a couple of hot mineral springs. Well rather lukewarm, but still nice to sit in. There is not entry fee or management, quite some people in the first basin near a scenic Ottoman bridge, but pretty pleasant overall. Walking up the stream, the valley narrows to a spectacular canon. Craig Martins and House Martins were nesting in the rock walls, Alpine Swifts overhead and there was also a Blue Rock Thrush. Grey Wagtails along the river.


  • 20240413_144045.JPG
    4.3 MB · Views: 5
  • P1050380.JPG
    6.6 MB · Views: 5
Next destination was the coast. We went to the southern tip of Albania, to the beach town Ksamil. Ksamil turned out to be a prime example of the chaotic and illegal building boom, pretty ugly town with plenty of demolished or unfinished buildings and even more apartment buildings with room for masses of people. Must be a nightmare in summer, but now it was pretty calm and near town there were some nice beaches with surprisingly warm water.

On a beach afternoon, I scoped a fishing boat, and when the hauled in the nets, a lot of Cory's Shearwater and a few Yelkouan Shearwater appeared around the boat.


  • 20240415_141529.jpg
    1.3 MB · Views: 7
  • 20240415_164902.jpg
    2.2 MB · Views: 7
  • P1050406.JPG
    675.1 KB · Views: 7
  • P1050409.JPG
    320.8 KB · Views: 7
However, the main attraction of the area is Butrint. Butrint is both an archeological site (actually pretty interesting, although watching old stones is not usually my thing) and a national park. The park is an interesting mix of topographic formations and habitats: a large lagoon, marshy areas along the channel connecting the lagoon to the sea, some lakes with marches, and hills with Macchia and dry forest. All very scenic.

On a morning walk to along the channel I found my forth and last lifer of the trip, an Eastern Orphean Warbler. Close by were two Great Spotted Cuckoos, probably on passage as I don't see them recorded as breading in the area. Otherwise, the bushes held the now already familiar Eastern Subalpine Warblers, Nightingales and Sardinian Warblers. Eastern Black-eared Wheatears were around as well, many Red-rumped Swallows overhead, and a single Woodchat Shrike on a wire.

Scoping the other shore of the channel and the mudflats of the coast, I found two lone Greater Flamingos, a small group of Spoonbills, and a lone Curlew. Pygmy Cormorants were present here as well, as most wetlands passed during the trip.

On a later excursion, I crossed the channel on a rather interesting ferry and explored the lakes and marches on the other site. New birds here included Squacco Herons, Wood Sandpipers and plenty of Whinchats, Cetti's Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas and a few Spanish Sparrows. A group of Bee-eaters was passing overhead, the only ones of the trip, as it was still early in the year for them.


  • IMG_20240415_064549.JPG
    814.6 KB · Views: 6
  • IMG_20240415_065638.JPG
    1.5 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278438.JPG
    333.5 KB · Views: 5
  • IMG_20240415_125055.JPG
    847.6 KB · Views: 4
  • P1278458.JPG
    293 KB · Views: 5
  • P1278585.JPG
    409.6 KB · Views: 5
  • P1278602.JPG
    645.4 KB · Views: 5
Last edited:
Reptiles were also pretty interesting, although I still have to do some ID work (not an expert here). The ruins of Butrint had some ponds, full with European terrapin. Several times we encountered Hermann's Turtles. And plenty of European Green Lizards and other lizards. The only snake seen was a young Dice Snake. Invasive Blue Crabs were everywhere.


  • IMG_20240410_162023.JPG
    364.7 KB · Views: 8
  • IMG_20240411_125520.JPG
    476.4 KB · Views: 8
  • P1278574.JPG
    759.5 KB · Views: 8
  • P1278411.JPG
    1.2 MB · Views: 8
  • P1278611.JPG
    759.2 KB · Views: 9
  • P1050433.JPG
    929.2 KB · Views: 8
  • P1050454.JPG
    900.7 KB · Views: 9
  • P1050439.JPG
    973 KB · Views: 9
  • IMG_20240416_123434.JPG
    269.5 KB · Views: 7
Last edited:
Forgot a little excursion we did on some mountainous plateau near Gijokastra, where we found a stunning Common Rock Thrush and a few Woodlarks. Also pretty beautful landscapes, the peaks still had some snow.


  • 20240412_124338.jpg
    568.3 KB · Views: 7
Very enjoyable photo diary of some wonderful scenery....looks fresh and clean in the remoter areas
Thanks! Yes, the countryside is very nice and unspoiled. The coastal cities we saw less so.The larger ones with many wild construction, and still a lot of wild waste dumps around.
Last stop was Vlora, a larger costal town halfway between Butrint/Ksamil and Durres. Not exactly beautiful, but still pleasant and interesting.

We made one day trip to the Shushica valley. The Shushica is a tributary to the Vjosa river, equally pristine and the valley very scenic. No new birds here, but the walks through the agricultural areas along the river gave a nice impression on how low intensity agriculture provides plenty of habitat to birds, compared to the agri-deserts of Switzerland. There was a Corn Bunting on every bush, plenty of Crested Larks on the fields, Silvia warblers and Nightingales and Woodchat Shrikes in the hedges.


  • P1050557.JPG
    5.7 MB · Views: 6
  • P1050559.JPG
    6.2 MB · Views: 6
  • 20240418_140223.jpg
    3.6 MB · Views: 6
  • 20240418_144100.jpg
    2.6 MB · Views: 6
But of course the main birding attraction near Vlora is the Narta lagoon, located in the wider Vjosa delta. It has a large lagoon, full of Greater Flamingos and large salines that were full of Black-winged Stilts and Avocets, and a nice set of waders including Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Spotted Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Plover and Kentish Plover. There were also a few resting Dalmatian Pelicans giving nice views and a couple of Slender-billed Gulls. Little Terns were hunting in the channels, and on the dam between salines and lagoon, I got nice views of Stone Curlew and a Little Owl.

I spent two mornings here, it is quite quick to reach from Vlora and easy to access, but I could have spent two full days here, very nice and large area. A must stop for any visitor. And thanks to winds, no mosquito bites.



  • P1278819.JPG
    1.8 MB · Views: 6
  • P1278826.JPG
    2.7 MB · Views: 6
  • P1278832.JPG
    900 KB · Views: 6
  • P1288840.JPG
    244.4 KB · Views: 5
  • P1288842.JPG
    3.6 MB · Views: 5
  • IMG_20240418_083331.jpg
    5.4 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278810.JPG
    1.5 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278796.JPG
    2.9 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278784.JPG
    1.8 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278778.JPG
    4.2 MB · Views: 5
  • IMG_20240418_073003.jpg
    3.6 MB · Views: 5
  • IMG_20240418_070532.jpg
    4.3 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278682.JPG
    6.9 MB · Views: 5
  • IMG_20240418_065619.jpg
    3.8 MB · Views: 5
  • P1278649.JPG
    2.8 MB · Views: 5
Unfortunately the paradise is quite threatened. Although nominally a protected area, there is an international airport in construction just north of the salines (some court cases pending). Also some large scale development are planned (by Jared Kushners company) near the lagoon and of the coast on an island location inside another protected area. I see the need for developing the tourismn economy, but I sincerly hope they will manage this by preserving these natural treasures, which are actually some of the last really wild coastlines in Europe.

Some reading:

That was it. Hope you enjoyed it. I can only recommend to visit Albania: absolutely beautiful country, very friendly and easy going people, infrastructure is becoming quite good and very affordable. And good birding :)

Here the full list of the trip (109 in total, pretty happy with that, given it was mostly short outings in the morning): https://ebird.org/tripreport/224531

We took the same route back, via ferry to Bari and train onwards. The ship was more rocky this time, not everyone was happy. Train ride was fine again, but crossing the Gotthard tunnel came with a shock: still sunshine in Ticino, but snowstorm on the northern side. Gladly the week of winter has passed now and the snow is gone...


  • 20240421_133406.jpg
    2.8 MB · Views: 8
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread