Saturday, 30 April 2016

Bulgaria Trip - 25th and 26th April (Day 4-5)

We were up at the usual 05:30 and back to the same track as yesterday evening with high hopes but fairly low morale. There was but one target, see Hazel Grouse. We walked slowly, played tapes, scanned the forest floor, scanned the trees but nothing. Then at around 08:45 Minko suddenly beckoned me, he had a Hazel Grouse perched in the trees only around 20m away but as I joined him the grouse flew and all I saw was an arse-end as it disappeared downslope - do I tick it on this view was the question in my mind, far from satisfactory. I moved to a position where the bird had flown to but no sign, then out of the corner of my eye a movement as another bird flew across the track but I could not be sure it was a Hazel Grouse. The Hazel Grouse started calling and there were at least three birds present, we stalked around the area scanning but to no avail and just as we were about to give up I saw a bird fly from the ground into the trees around 75m down the slope, I frantically scanned and then there it was partly obscured and a little distant but unmistakably a male Hazel Grouse. We enjoyed the grouse for at least 5 minutes before it flew further down slope. Fantastic! And so rewarding to have spent around 12 hours looking for this species to have finally found it. I was chuffed and we headed back down the slope to the car.

Our drive to Sofia was punctuated by breakfast watching Red-rumped Swallow and Pallid Swift and a look for Three-toed Woodpecker but although we saw feeding evidence we had no luck with seeing the birds but our time was very limited here. We arrived in Sofia at 16:00 and said our goodbyes to Minko. Before checking into the Hotel Sofia Balkan for one night and a chance to explore the city. We concluded that Sofia was rather uninspiring and headed for the airport at 11:00 for our 14:20 flight back to the UK on 26th April.

Hazel Grouse - near to Yagodinska Cave

Haberlea rhodopensis - Endemic to the Rhodophe Mountains

Three-toed Woodpecker habitat

Wild Crocus 

Trip List
Total of 76 species with 3 ticks (shown in bold).

Grey Partridge
Hazel Grouse
Rock Dove
Common Woodpigeon
Eurasian Collared-dove
Alpine Swift
Pallid Swift
Common Cuckoo
White Stork
Little Ringed Plover
Yellow-legged Gull
Eurasian Buzzard
Grey-faced Woodpecker
Eurasian Green Woodpecker
Black Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Common Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Crested Lark
Eurasian Skylark
Barn Swallow
Eurasian Crag Martin
Northern House Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
White-throated Dipper
Northern Wren
Mistle Thrush
Song Thrush
Common Blackbird
Ring Ouzel
Common Nightingale
European Robin
Black Redstart
Common Stonechat
Common Firecrest
Common Chiffchaff
Lesser Whitethroat
Sombre Tit
Willow Tit
Coal Tit
European Crested Tit
Great Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Eurasian Nuthatch
Eurasian Treecreeper
Eurasian Jay
Common Magpie
Spotted Nutcracker
Eurasian Jackdaw
Hooded Crow
Common Raven
Common Starling
House Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Common Chaffinch
European Serin
European Greenfinch
Eurasian Siskin
European Goldfinch
Common Linnet
Red Crossbill
Eurasian Bullfinch
Corn Bunting
Rock Bunting
Cirl Bunting

Links to the Other Days of the Trip