Migrating Great White Pelicans by Dimiter Georgiev
А tour focusing on the spectacular migration of hundreds of thousand of birds of prey, pelicans, storks and passerines along the Black Sea Flyway, known as the Via Pontica.
The tour starts from Bourgas or Varna at 14.00 h in the afternoon at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Bourgas or Varna Airport, as they are kindly requested to arrive there until 14.00 h (2 p.m.), or from their accommodation place within the two cities, if they have arrived earlier. Transfer north to the area of the coastal town of Kavarna (70 km north of Varna), where we will be staying for four nights.
In the next three days we will explore Coastal Dobrudzha. This is the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The relief is plain, rolling gradually towards the coastal sand dunes and wetlands. Cape Kaliakra is the southern limit of this geographic area. The sea cliff there towers up to 70 m. Here are the last remnants of the Great Steppe, formerly occupying the bigger part of the region.
This day is dedicated to the region of Cape Kaliakra with its cliffs, arid areas and steppes.
On the dry, open steppe-land we will find Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Eurasian Stone Curlew and a range of migrants, including European Bee-eaters, European Rollers, various species of pipits, wheatears, shrikes and buntings. The shrubs will produce Red-breasted Flycatchers, Common Redstarts and a great diversity of warblers. In the first half of September there will be still Pied Wheatears and Alpine Swifts around the cliffs. Various migrating raptors pass overhead all the time as the Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier being some of the specialties. The first migrating Red-footed Falcons are likely to be seen in mid-September too. Some residents like the Long-legged Buzzard and Eurasian Eagle Owl will also be around. In the sea we will be watching the Mediterranean race of the European Shag (ssp.desmarestii) and various migrating seabirds.
This day we will visit the coastal lakes of Shabla and Durankulak.
Large numbers of birds are likely to be present here, including Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Ferruginous Duck, Glossy Ibis, Marsh Harrier, Caspian Tern, Whiskered Tern, etc. In the shallow waters we could expect to see various shore birds like the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Kentish Plover.
We will spend the morning birdwatching at Durankulak Lake and the adjacent coast for seabirds, waterfowl and other migrants. In the afternoon we will explore the nearby Shabla lakes to find more water birds and migrants.
Today we will visit any of the areas we have visited in the previous days, trying to see some of the bird species we have missed, or have not seen well in the previous days.
Drive to the Southern Black Sea coast with stops at the Kamchia forests and sand dunes and in the Eastern Balkan range. There we will be watching the raptor migration and various forest birds (incl. Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Sombre Tit, Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Cirl Bunting).
Before the check-in we will also visit the Pomorie Lake, which is one of the best sites for waders and shore-birds in this time of the year.
Accommodation in Sarafovo part of the city of Bourgas for four nights.
Days 6, 7 & 8 Bourgas wetlands: Mandra Lake, Atanasovsko Lake and Bourgas Lake, which form one of Europe’s richest bird areas. One of the biggest attractions of the Bourgas wetlands is the huge flocks of Dalmatian Pelican and Great White Pelican, stopping for long time there during the migration.
The numbers of soaring birds following the Black Sea coastal flyway in autumn is also spectacular – big numbers of White Storks and Black Storks, European Honey Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles, Lesser Spotted Eagles, Black Kites, Montagu’s Harriers, Levant Sparrowhawks, etc. pass overhead.
Other species of birds likely to be seen at Bourgas wetlands include the Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Crake, Black-winged Stilt, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Red-necked Phalarope, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Little Gull, Gull-billed Tern, White-winged Tern, Black Tern and Whiskered Tern and many other migrating wader and waterfowl species. Rarities like the Terek Sandpiper have been regularly recorded in recent years.
While in this area we will also spend some of the mornings watching the raptor migration at watch points in the Dyulinski Pass in the Eastern Balkan range (to the north of Bourgas).
Day 9 Departure from Varna or Bourgas Airport.
Depending on the time of departure and which airport you need to be – we can visit any of the sites in Bourgas and/or Varna area.