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Bulgaria -northern part of the Black Sea (1 Viewer)

Earnest lad

Well-known member
I took a five day solo birding trip last week flying Wizzair from Liverpool to Varna in Bulgaria, , and stayed with Mr Pavel Simeonov at Branta Birding Lodge in Durankulak. Branta Birding Lodge is part of the "Bed and Birding" group of accommodations.
I well recommend it because the accommodation was great as well as very reasonably priced. There were other birders around to share tips and information. Also, Mr Pavel, a birding expert who lives at the lodge with his family, was very helpful.

Arriving at 11:15pm in Varna Airport, I was met by Plamen of "East Rent" rent-a-car of Varrna, and duly collected the hire car. A ninety minute drive in the dark to Birding Lodge, Durankulak ensued. On the journey I saw an owl of some kind, and a couple of foxes. Also, caught in the headlights, slinking into the undergrowth at the side of the road, I saw the latter end of a distinctly “band-tailed” creature, which can only have been a Wild Cat as far as I know. I understand the Wild Cat is so secretive that it is very hard to see. Understandably I felt really pleased to have this sighting.
Day 1:
A pre-breakfast walk around part of Durankulak Lake to see the first of many Red-backed Shrike, an Osprey, Ferruginous ducks, Golden Orioles, Green sandpiper, spanish Sparrows, House Sparrows, and Tree Sparrows. An over summering Whooper Swan that had not migrated (perhaps due to some injury) had paired up believe it or not, with a Mute Swan. It is thought this pair may have mated and produced hybrid offspring. If so this is a first for Bulgaria.
Each day in front of the Birding Lodge, Turtle Doves were seen on the telegraph wires. However the Scops Owl that had been nesting in the grounds of Branta Birding Lodge, had left by now.
After breakfast, a visit to Shabla Tuszla Lake was productive with many terns, gulls, waders and ducks. Birds seen included Little Stint, Black and Sandwich Terns, Ruddy Shelduck, Shoveler, the first of many Red-breasted flycatchers, Reed warbler, and Avocet.
Later that day, a visit to the area of Durankulak Camping saw me taking a long walk along a lovely stretch of beach in the place where the reed beds of the lake adjoin the black sea. Here only flyby snipe (Perhaps Great Snipe), Tawny Pipit, Bee-eater, and other common species were observed.
A visit that day to yet another spot in the region, near Ezerets, produced the first of several Hobby.
Day 2
Today a visit to the well-known Cape Kaliakra was planned, and I set off , stopping en-route at some steppe habitat just before the village of Balgarevo. Here were seen another Hobby, Corn Bunting, the first of many Crested Lark, and a lifer in the form of Red-rumped swallow.
Entering Cape Kaliakra, a £2.50 entrance fee for the car park was paid. A pied Wheatear, a Hoopoe, and several Northern Wheatears were basically the only birds seen. I can only think that the very strong wind was keeping all the migrants hunkered down because this is a known migrant hotspot along the famous via Pontica migrant flyway. Nearby to Cape Kaliakra, is the beach and lovely little resort of Bolata and a lovely path here runs along by some steep cliff formation. Here were several Eurasian Sparrowhawks, Red-breasted flycatchers, Blackcap, and Lesser Whitethroat. I bumped into a dutch birding couple, who had just seen Eagle Owl on the cliffs here. Although they pointed the Eagle Owl spot out, I didnt see that species.
Returning in the direction of Durankulak, this time along the coastal road, a stop was made at the steppe at Kamen Bryag. However the wind again was so strong. Along this coastal stretch, the only birds seen were Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Shag (the eastern race desmarestii), and Yellow-legged Gull
Day 3
Pre-breakfast birding around Durankulak produced Great Reed Warbler, Garden Warbler, Purple Heron, a Goldfinch flock, and common Whitethroat as well as a fox.
Later another visit was made to the cliffs at Bolata. Again the Eagle Owls werent seen, but Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Syrian Woodpecker, House martin, and Redstart were observed.
Pavel took a few of us to a good spot for Little Crake and Spotted Crake. A lovely spot it was, and although the crake werent seen, there were Red-breasted flycatchers and Goshawk.
Day four
Pre breakfast birding again near Lake Durankulak turned up Hobby, Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat, spotted flycatcher, and thunbergi Yellow Wagtail. In addition a Montagu’s or Hen Harrier flew by.
Later that day a visit was made to a known Pallid Swift colony in the nearby town of Kavarna. The Pallid Swift were duly seen (lifer) Then it was back to the crake place mentioned earlier where cuckoo and Osprey were seen. Nearby here Tawny Pipit and Kingfisher were observed by me.
Day 5
This was the last day, and Pavel kindly showed me a good place for Hawfinch, a bird I wanted to see, as I hadnt seen this bird properly in the UK or elsewhere. This was in a small vilage near Krapets. A hawfinch was duly seen thanks to Pavel, in spite of it not being the best time of year to spot this shy bird. Also here were Cuckoo, Buzzard, and Song thrush.

I do recommend a stay at Branta Birding Lodge in Durankulak, as it is a much under-watched district and there are many places hidden away to see lovely birds. In winter time this is the best place for the endangered Red-breasted goose. The recently updated Gosney Booklet “Guide to the birds of Eastern Bulgaria” has many maps to get you right to the exact spots to see birds. Also Mr Simeonov (Pavel) is sure to be very helpful with local knowledge and information.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Your cat is far more likely to have been a feral domestic, you need to get really good views of a wildcat, be familiar with the exact features and record all or most of them to claim one.

Nice concise report, interesting place.

John
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
Thank you everyone for your kind comments. Also I take onboard the helpful advice about the purported wildcat. On reflection I doubt this species would mooch about in the verge of a main road, even at night.
 

andyb39

Well-known member
Thank you everyone for your kind comments. Also I take onboard the helpful advice about the purported wildcat. On reflection I doubt this species would mooch about in the verge of a main road, even at night.

It might - I saw one in broad daylight once, driving from Burgas Airport to Varna.
 

rollingthunder

Well-known member
I would doubt even my own views of Wildcat unless i had taken a series of pictures to sift through and post for peer review. There are simply too many issues and pitfalls to factor in to be sure you have seen a wild one imo...

Laurie:t:
 

andyb39

Well-known member
I would doubt even my own views of Wildcat unless i had taken a series of pictures to sift through and post for peer review. There are simply too many issues and pitfalls to factor in to be sure you have seen a wild one imo...

Laurie:t:

No doubt in my mind, mate.
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
It might - I saw one in broad daylight once, driving from Burgas Airport to Varna.

Thank you. I do think it might be too. To be honest, although I only saw the rear of the animal in the headlights of it as it moved into the undergrowth in the dead of night, I was able to observe very pronounced banding on the tail, the like of which I have never ever seen in a domestic cat.
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
Thanks for the accommodation details - just the sort of place i would lodge at and support:t:

Laurie -

You would like it very much and would meet some birders too. Pavel would tell you about the best places and he has his finger on the pulse of what birds are around at any given time. :)
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
This is indeed a nice area, I was there only in winter, but that was one of my greatest birding experiences - the amount of wintering geese, including the red-breasted ones, is simply staggering and the lakes near Burgas had epic numbers of various common things like herons, egrets and cormorants. Besides the red-breasted geese and tundra swans, the species seen there were not that exciting, but the numbers! If you enjoyed the area, I really recommend trying a winter visit.
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
This is indeed a nice area, I was there only in winter, but that was one of my greatest birding experiences - the amount of wintering geese, including the red-breasted ones, is simply staggering and the lakes near Burgas had epic numbers of various common things like herons, egrets and cormorants. Besides the red-breasted geese and tundra swans, the species seen there were not that exciting, but the numbers! If you enjoyed the area, I really recommend trying a winter visit.

Also if one goes maybe mid to late September it is lovely to catch the many migrants.
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
Reminds me of being there back in 2007. Paddyfield Warblers easy in June there.
Nice report.

There are many nice little places, nooks and crannies one can find nice birds. There are so few people around too. I understand Gosney has an updated guide to the Birds of Eastern Bulgaria out.
 

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