Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007 images part 3 (courtesy of Richard Tyler)

Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007 (all images by Richard Tyler)
Eagle Owl near Kaliakra
White (asleep) and Dalmatian Pelican, Atanassovo
Dalmatian Pelican at Atanassovo
Caspian Gull at Lake Shabla
E.White-fronted Geese at Durankulak

Anser Birding Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007 trip report

Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007
Sunrise at Lake Durankulak; this site holds tens of thousands of Red-breasted and White-fronted Geese every year but this winter was the mildest on record. The goose flocks had already peaked in January and departed in numbers. We used the hedge to stalk the goose flocks that are leaving the roost to feed in the adjacent fields where we did manage to get close to our target birds.

Red-breasted Geese dawn flight images plus E. White-fronted Geese. Also Red-breasted Goose among the Whitefronts.
Summary; A group of ten travelled to Bulagaria via Gatwick to Varna on a British Airways flight. Our main aim was to see the goose flocks with time at the end to find some local specialities and the pelicans and wildfowl further south, also to have a good time. Three nights were spent staying in Kavarna at the Hotel Solenkov with the last night at hotel Favorit adjacent to Atanassovo near Bourgas. We birded many sites which are mentioned with the birds in the report.

4 February 2007 We were met by our guide Peter Ivanov and bus driver and headed off for Kavarna for our evening meal and to relax in the bar of our hotel ready for the next day.

5 February 2007 An early start in the dark saw us arriving at a snow covered area next to Lake Durankulak (3km south of the Romanian border) for the geese, it was bitterly cold but nearly all of us were prepared (Bob was the exception, keeping out the cold with whisky from the night before did not work and his thermals were still in his room). We found 2500 E. White-fronted and 11 Red-breasted Geese as well as 20 Whooper Swan, 40 Eastern Greylag, 5 White-tailed Eagle and a huge Hen and Marsh Harrier roost as they departed for the day. We visited Lake Shabla, Cape Kaliakra and Bolata Valley, Cape Shabla (eastern most point of Bulgaria) , Kosmos and Krapes and recorded many species including 2 first winter Mediterranean Gull, 1 female Goldeneye, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, two Merlin, female Goshawk, up to six Syrian Woodpeckers, 150 Calandra Lark, 1 Crested Lark, 1 Firecrest, 3 Hawfinch, 1 Caspian Gull and a Penduline Tit.

6 February 2007 A repeat visit to many of yesterdays sites gave us larger numbers (60 Red-breasted and 4500 E. White-fronted Geese) and better views of the geese. A Saker Falcon was also hunting the lake. A drive around local roads near the Romanian border added a few more species with Northern Grey Shrike being the pick of the bunch. At Lake Shabla a single Ferruginous Duck was a welcome addition to the list. A search from the various coastal headlands rewarded us with small parties of Yelkouan Shearwaters numbering 30 birds in total. Other notable birds/counts for the day included 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 White-tailed Eagle, 24 Hen Harrier, 50 Buzzard, 14 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Little Owl, 4 Syrian Woodpecker, 800+ Calandra Lark, 27 Crested Lark, 2 Black Redstart and 200 Corn Bunting. The day ended with great views of Eagle Owl during daylight. A Lesser spotted Woodpecker was also found at the same site.

7 February 2007 We drove south stopping off wet forest and a forested ridge before heading to the main lakes around Bourgas. It was a great day for woodpeckers with the first site at Baltata and the hills at Goritsa producing 4 Grey-headed, 1 Green, 6 Great Spotted, 4 Middle Spotted and 4 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers as well as Short-toed Treecreeper and Nuthatch.
We tried another wetland site at Tankovo but it was being drained!, the fields and vinyards around were productive with Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard and a Rough-legged Buzzard with a Goshawk for company. We had lunch looking over the sea at Aheloy and watched 16 Slender-billed Gull, 2 Red-necked Grebe, and close Black-throated Divers as well as our first 2 Pygmy Cormorant of the trip. The saltpans at Atanssonovo and the reed fringed lake of Vaya (Burgas) gave us 2000 Pygmy Cormorant, 3 White Pelican, 335 Dalmatian Pelican, Sandwich Tern, 2 Great White Egret, 1 Little Egret, 1000 Shelduck, 4000 Pochard, 16 Avocet and 300 Yellow-legged Gull (seen daily but our best day yet for this species). We also popped in to have a look at the city Peregrine on a large hotel in the centre.

8 February 2007
Our last day of birding began with Cetti's Warblers calling next to the hotel, we drove to Lake Vaya (Burgas) to search for the White-headed Ducks and eventually located 149 in a tight raft but not before watching the pelicans emerging from the mist and the Pygmy Cormorants leaving their roost. Also at least four Smew were found on the lake as well as thousands of Pochard and other wildfowl. A search to see if Ruddy Shelduck had returned to a sand pit nesting site proved succesful with a pair seen and heard well. We also visited Lake Mandra and the Poda BSPB (Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds) reserve which was glorious in the warm sunshine. A pair of Stonechat were also noted today as well as 7 Green Sandpiper at Pomoroa, Bob saw a Spoonbill from the bus at the Poda Reserve but was on a busy stretch of road and hidden in the reeds so we did not stop. We visited Ytata reserve near Varna where plenty of waterbirds could be found but nothing new to add to the trip. This concluded the trip and we flew home from Varna back to Gatwick.

Thanks to all involved for their enthusiasm and great company. Special thanks to Peter Ivanov for being such a knowledgable guide and sharing all with us.
Martin McGill

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Anser Birding Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007 images

Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007 images part 2 M.J.McGill.

Dalmatian Pelicans at Atanassovo, Bourgas

The Dalmatian Pelicans were great to watch as many were displaying and very active. At least two White Pelican were found among them, see the trip report in future for further images.

Pygmy Cormorant and Coot on the Poda Reserve; we saw thousands of these birds flighting to and from reedbed roost sites and feeding around the vast lakes.

Long-legged Buzzard near Lake Mandra; we saw at least five individuals during the trip. At one point we were watching this species with Rough-legged and Common Buzzard for good measure.

Eagle Owl in it's cave hideout, Cape Kaliakra. This bird took some finding, thanks to a very much under the weather but alert Richard Tyler it was found in good light.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Anser Birding Bulgaria bird images 4-8 February 2007

First set of images (M.J.McGill) from the Bulgaria 4-8 February 2007 Anser Birding trip.
Crested Lark near Durankulak
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Slender-billed Gull
Black-throated Diver
Northern Grey Shrike