BULGARIA – WINTER
1–5 February 2015
Almost all of the world's Red-breasted Geese winter in Bulgaria in most years and this short tour is arranged to ensure that we have the best chance of seeing these beautifully-plumaged birds. Good numbers of the equally rare Lesser White-fronted Goose can be found in the same area, as can many other species that are absent from or rare in the UK.
Day 1 Flight from London to Varna via Vienna followed by a 70km drive north to our base for the next four nights.
Days 2–4 We will spend these three days in the Coastal Dobrudja – the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near the Romanian border. The geese roost on the lakes of Shabla and Durankulak and, early in the morning, we will watch them depart to feed in the surrounding fields. The number of Red-breasted Geese varies between 5,000 and 50,000 depending on the severity of the winter. Later each day we will explore the fields where the geese graze. Other geese in the area will include both Greater and Lesser White-fronted Geese.
We will not be spending all of our time searching for geese, however, as there are a number of other special birds in the area including Great Bittern, Greater Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Rough-legged Hawk, Merlin and Pallas's Gull. On the Black Sea itself we will look for Arctic and Red-throated Loons, Eared, Red-necked and Horned Grebes and many ducks including Greater Scaup and the globally-threatened Ferruginous Duck.
We will also visit Cape Kaliakra, where we can expect to see desmarestii European Shag, Eurasian Eagle-owl and possibly Wallcreeper, whilst the adjacent steppe holds Long-legged Buzzard, Merlin and Calandra Lark. In the parks and gardens of the local villages we will look for Syrian Woodpecker.
Part of one day will be spent in the Batova riverine forest, which is a very good site for Grey-faced, Lesser Spotted and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreeper and Hawfinch.
Day 5 After breakfast we will head south to Varna Lake, where we will search for Pygmy Cormorant, Great Egret, Cetti's Warbler, Sombre Tit and Cirl Bunting. We will continue south to Varna and catch our return flight to London.
General Information The climate can vary from mild to bitterly cold with some rain or snow possible. The tour pace is moderate with generally easy walks mostly on level ground. There are no significant health requirements.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; 14 with 2 leaders.