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9–13 February 2024

In most years nearly all of the world’s Red-breasted Geese winter in Bulgaria and good numbers occur close to our base on the Black Sea coast, as do Lesser White-fronted Geese, Ferruginous Ducks, Greater Spotted and White-tailed Eagles, Rough-legged Buzzard and Long-legged Buzzard, Pallas’s Gulls and Syrian Woodpeckers. Further afield we will look for Eurasian Eagle-owl and Middle Spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers.

Day 1 Flight from London to Varna via Vienna followed by a 70-kilometre drive north to our base for the next four nights.

Days 2–4 We will spend the majority of these three days in the Coastal Dobroudzha, 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.

On one of the days we will cross the border into Romania to explore the coastal lagoons and marshlands which are about an hour’s drive from our Bulgarian base. This will give us better views of the wintering geese and we should also add White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard and both Pallas’s and Caspian Gulls.

We will not be spending all of our time searching for geese, as there are a number of other special birds in the area including Great Bittern, Greater Spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard and Merlin. On the Black Sea itself we will look for Black and Red-throated Loons, Eared (Black-necked), Red-necked and Horned (Slavonian) 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 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-headed, 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. Subsequently we will continue south to Varna to 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; maximum group size 10 with 1 leader, 14 with 2 leaders.

Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard

Recommended books available from NHBS