Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Rest of Bulgaria

Apologies but lack of internet access prevented me from updating the Bulgaria trip until now.  We were moving on Wednesday from Koprivshtitsa to the western Rhodoropes to stay in the remote village of Mostovo.  As we left our base we stopped for a while nearby to look for Shorelarks but of course found none.  We did have very good views of a male Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk.  Further on we stopped in a village to watch a Syrian Woodpecker which was conveniently feeding on a road side tree.

Syrian Woodpecker

Pjasacnik Reservoir

We aimed to spend some time at the Pjasacnik Reservoir about halfway to our destination.  Here the weather improved and we spent our time there in warm sunshine.  On arrival we immediately discovered a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and then settled down to scan the large number of wildfowl.  Mallard were the most numerous with good numbers of Shelducks, Wigeon, Teal, Garganey as well as a few Shoveler and Pochard.  Groups of Cormorants flew around with Yellow-legged Gulls.  Suddenly a small group of 7 geese were discovered and as they flew around with Mallard it was obvious that these were Lesser White-fronted Geese.  Once they settled identification was confirmed.

Little Ringed Plover
Raptors too were in evidence and included a superb White-tailed Eagle, 2 Short-toed Eagles and a passing Osprey.  A green Woodpecker called behind us and several Chiffchaffs were singing and two members of the group had views of a Hoopoe.  Three Black Storks were also feeding nearby. Several common species of butterfly were on the wing and the highlight was a superb Large Tortoiseshell.

Western Rhodoropes

The next day we rose to the very cold but impressive scenery of the Western Rhodoropes. First thing a couple of Sand Martins battled their way down the valley as we prepared to move into the forest.  Passing a large open area we picked up a male Ring Ouzel and large numbers of Fieldfares before arriving at the Tchervenata Stena Reserve.  Our task here was to try and see Hazel Grouse a notoriously difficult species to find.  We stomped the forest for hours finding small numbers of birds like Willow Tit, Goldcrest and Treecreeper but none of our quarry.  We also had good views of the local Red Squirrels which have no red at all but are grey and white and even black and white.

Red Squirrel from Bulgaria
In the afternoon and after lots of searching we eventually heard the thin goldcrest-like song of Hazel Grouse.  We also heard its wing beating display and some even had brief flight views but that was all. Not very satisfactory for those among us who had not seen this species before.  We finished off by watching six Crag Martins soaring over a hillside on our return.

Tree Sparrow - a common species throughout Bulgaria

The next morning we had a three hour drive back to Sofia Airport.  We were not expecting many birds but were pleasantly surprised.  Driving along a great flat plain we were heading into a gale force and very cold wind with snow showers too.  We were able to pick out 3 Great White Egrets huddling with a number of Grey Herons, note one or two White Storks and Lapwings but best of all get good views of 4 Pygmy Cormorants flying alongside our minibus.

No comments:

Post a Comment