A few very useful links to some excellent resources from my recent trip:
Well easy to book train tickets across Europe for any conceivable route: The Man in Seat 61:
Excellent Local based Bulgarian conservation and bird and nature tour company, for tours and nature guides: NEOPHRON
Pioneering Ecological Farming Project in Valley of the Roses. Courses, volunteering and products: BALKAN ECOLOGY PROJECT
Affordable Decadence in Belgrade: HOTEL MOSCOW
Lonely Planet, EUROPE ON A SHOESTRING
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
Spent the morning helping out with the Veg boxes from the Ecological/Biological Farm ( more here: WILDLIFE FARMING and MORE HERE )
View from Shipka over Valley of the Roses
In the afternoon went fishing with Dylan- here with a Pumpkin Fish
Marsh Harrier (above) and Red-backed Shrikes were around the Lake
Back home tomorrow.
THE BALKAN ECOLOGY PROJECT
Taking a drive over our new land
Taking a drive over our new land
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Back to Shipka today to my Brother's family home, the Balkan Ecology Project (more HERE). Was planning on doing some birding in the local area but strange local weather conditions are currently generating very strong winds from the mountains. We spent the day doing a bit of work round the farm.
Monday, 28 September 2015
First-winter male Bluethroat
White Pelicans and Lapwings
Juvenile White Pelican
We started the day off with Costa at the Burgas ringing station and got to see a stunning male Bluethroat in the hand. We also had a look on the salt pans- lots of waterbirds.
There were a few soaring birds moving over but the rain came in after lunch so we headed off back to Shipka (interior of the Balkan range). Hoping to see if there is any migration going on through the
Dylan trying out his presenting skills
Sunday, 27 September 2015
We started off the day looking for migrating raptors in the mountains. Unfortunately un-forecasted mist, low cloud and fog meant that there was poor thermal activity and visibility resulting in us seeing no soaring birds. There were 100s of Skylarks and White Wagtails, Yellow Wagtails, the odd Red-throated Pipit, Tree Pipits, Woodlarks and lots of Crested Larks. As the conditions were poor we decided to move south to Burgas.
On the way we had this Little Owl (Presumably Cucumiau)
Attempting to check in to the hotel was thwarted by going ons overhead. The weather conditions had improved and obviously things started to move- big time.
Black Storks- over 2000 flew south in a 2-3 hours
White Pelicans- 4000+ went south
Lesser Spotted Eagles, we estimated 4500 of these
Black Storks, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Marsh Harrier (6 today and 1 ring-tail)
Short-toed Eagles- about 40 of these. The birds were very high- (see video below) but zooming in, and a bit of work on photoshop elements on the 7D shots provide identification pics
A tiny dot in the sky reveals itself as a female Red-footed Falcon- about 120 of these
There's enough detail here to show a male Lesser Kestrel (note protruding central tail feathers and pale underwing). A handful of these.
Common Buzzard-1500 going south
Booted Eagle- only this one
Honey Buzzard- about 80 of these
Short-toed Eagles (higher) and Honey Buzzard
We moved to the salt pan view point
Lesser Spotted eagles 4500 Short toed eagles 40 Booted Eagle 1 l.f. Common Buzzards - 1500 Honey Buzzards 80 Red-footed falcons 120 Common Kestrels 1+ Lesser Kestrel, 10 Hobby 2 Sparrowhawks 50 Marsh harriers 2000 Black Storks 1800 White Pelicans 4000 White storks 3
Also 4 Greater Flamingo, 3 Spoonbill, 5+ Slender-billed Gull, 2000+ Barn Swallow, 1000+ Med Gull, 1 Little Gull, 700+ White Wagtail and 5 Red-throated Pipit
Thanks to Dimiter and Marina for a great day.
Saturday, 26 September 2015
Bee-eaters on the road from our hotel to the Cape. A Roller was nearer the Cape. Also Red-throated Pipit, White and Yellow Wagtails, a single Lapwing and Red-backed Shrikes.
Hobby. The Cape Kaliakra wind farm was a very controversial installation- literally right in the middle of a bird migration super highway (The Via Pontica). Not so much moving today, we had just a few Sparrowhawks, 2-3 Marsh Harrier, 3 Honey Buzzard, 1 Short-toed Eagle and a couple of Common Buzzard.
Never seen so many Mediterranean Gulls- literally thousands- 2000-3000, that gathered to roost on the sea. This flock were hawking insects over the fields. Also never seen so many White Wagtails (below)- 100s of them in the area.
Dylan looking for aquatic life. Plenty of waterbirds on the lake including Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Garganey, Shelduck, 1 Spotted Crake, 5 Little Gull, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, 4 Snipe, 1 Little Stint, 10 Dunlin, 1 LRP and Great Egrets,
Small Copper- literally everywhere on the Steppe area. Also Woodlark there.
Dylan reckons this is maybe a Sand Lizard (It's a Grass Lizard but I was wrong about the frogs- they were Tree Frogs calling from the reeds)