Sunday 25 November 2012


This is rather a late post, as the Ornitholidays tour to Bulgaria was a week in September. It's one of our one-centre tours, where we stay for a week in the same hotel in Pomorie. Here we overlook the Black Sea in one direction, and a system of salt-works, great for migrating waders, in the other. Almost all week this Broad-billed Sandpiper (along with a few others) was easy to find within a ten minute walk of the hotel. These breed in the Arctic and winter mostly in south-east Asia. The bold white supercilium and bill downcurved at the tip are useful features. 

September is a great month to visit the Black Sea to watch migration. Waders, raptors, storks and pelicans can be seen in great numbers. These White Pelicans, seen soaring over the city of Bourgas, breed mostly in the Danube Delta (a little way north in Romania), and winter in East Africa. In the autumn they put on weight by feeding in dense flocks on the abundant fish in Lake Vaya, a magnet for waterbirds on the edge of Bourgas. We missed the main peak of the stork and eagle migration, but lucky observers can see hundreds of Lesser Spotted Eagles and White Storks migrating south in one day. 

Eastern Bulgaria also has some fine oakwoods where species like Goshawk, Woodlark and Hawfinch nest. In autumn Red-breasted Flycatchers and Woodchat Shrikes pass through. The Middle Spotted Woodpecker is a common resident too - similar to our familiar Great Spotted, but with smaller bill, red crown and higher-pitched voice.  

Logistically, this is a simple and easy tour: Bourgas Airport is reached non-stop from Gatwick or Manchester; and the daily programme is relaxed, with no long journeys. We had time to enjoy fritillaries and other butterflies, and this well-camouflaged praying mantis. Thanks to fellow-traveller Brian Garner for two of the above photos. Next post I'll report on my latest Ornitholidays destination, The Gambia.