This is an opportunity to combine not only two countries in one tour, but two contrasting habitats. In Bulgaria the Pirin Mountains will provide pine forest birds and in Greece there will be visits to wetlands including Kerkini Lake and the Nestos and Evros Deltas, the latter is an important bottleneck for migratory birds.
Bulgaria’s beautiful scenery, friendly people and excellent wine and food are additional highlights.
Projected Itinerary (which may be subject to adjustment)
Flight to Sofia. Drive south through the Struma valley to Melnik, Bulgaria’s smallest town, for a three night stay. Some birdwatching stops on the way, possible birds at Kresna Gorge include Subalpine,
Orphean, Barred and Olive-tree Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, and at Ilindentsi Hills Raven, Rock Nuthatch and Blue Rock Thrush
Day excursion to Kerkini Lake in Greece. Around the lake you might see storks, Dalmatian
Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Spoonbill, terns, birds of prey including Osprey, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Cetti’s and Savi’s Warblers, Penduline Tit.
Visits to Rozhen Monastery, Rupite (the crater of an extinct volcano) and Hotovo. Possible birds today include Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Great Reed and Cetti’s Warbler, Bee-eater, Hoopoe and Rock Sparrow.
Visit Hursovo and Petrovo and drive to Gotse Delchev for a one night stay, looking out for pine forest birds such as Rock Thrush, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, Yellowhammer, Nutcracker and Rock Bunting.
Return to Greece to explore the
high parts of Falakro mountain(1700m) for woodpeckers, Nutcracker, pipits, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, possibly Rock Partridge and/or Hazel Grouse. During the afternoon drive to one of the largest bird sites in northern Greece – the Nestos river delta. If time we may stop on the way at Nestos river gorge (an IBA) for possible Griffon Vulture, Rock and Blue Rock Thrush, Bee-eater. Two night stay at Keramoti.
A day exploring the Nestos Delta. We shall be looking for waterfowl, waders, terns, gulls and shearwaters. Possible birds include Spur-winged Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Grey and Masked Shrike, and Levant Sparrowhawk.
Visit to the Evros Delta, one of the best birding spots in northern Greece, an important bottleneck for migratory birds in spring and autumn. Possible birds include Spur-winged Lapwing, Glossy Ibis, Collared Pratincole, Masked Shrike and Great Spotted Cuckoo. Two night stay in Tychero Village.
A day at Dadia Forest, one of the richest places for raptors (36 species) in Europe. We hope to see Black, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Booted and Golden Eagles, Red-footed Falcon and buzzards. Other possible birds: Bonelli’s, Subalpine and Orphean Warblers, and Sombre Tit.
Drive back to Bulgaria for a two night stay at Ivailovgrad with birdwatching stops along the way. Wednesday 1 May Visit to Ivailovgrad dam and surroundings, looking for Honey Buzzard, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Black Kite, Rock and Ortolan Buntings, Barred Warbler, Black- headed Wagtail and Hawfinch.
Drive to Koprivshtitsa, with birdwatching stops on the way, possible birds include Isabelline Wheatear and even Imperial Eagle. Farewell Dinner and overnight stay.