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  • If you are you an independent birdwatcher, who does not care for large group tours, then Birdingpaltours is for you
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Birdwatching in Bulgaria

Due to the crossroad location of Bulgaria on the Balkan Peninsula its wildlife composition is well renown as one of the richest ones in Europe! No wonder that only its avifauna comprises over 420 species, 22 among them – globally threatened! This is one of the reasons why during the last decade Bulgaria has become a top destination for birdwatchers from all over the world!
A rare combination of high mountain ranges, flat plains and a picturesque sea coast, still housing unspoiled and wild nature, can be observed on such a small territory. The various and wild habitats give shelter and safe home for numerous endangered species, while millions of birds use the “Via Pontica” – of the two major flyways in Europe, passing within the boundaries of Bulgaria…

"Eastern Rodopi Mountains"

If you want to visit some of the most representative and valuable habitats in Bulgaria, holding the biggest part of its avian richness, this is the right moment and tour! Passing through the kingdom of the birds of prey in Europe - the Eastern Rodopi Mountains, where more than 20 species of vultures, eagles, falcons, hawks, buzzards and others are presented during the breeding season, this part of the rou te is also especially recommended to those, who would like to enjoy the fabulous variety of passerines species from the southern complex (like Blue Rock Thrush, Masked Shrike, Rock Nuthatch, Orphean Warbler etc.). The remarkable diversity of raptors and passerines, combined with different water-connected species (as Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, Ferruginous Ducks, egrets, herons, terns etc.) is also irrevocable part of the visits of other unique places both along the Black Sea Coast and the Danube River. This itinerary provides the extreme possibility to observe the birdwatcher’s dream – the Slender-billed Curlew! The complete trip around Bulgaria in spring promises longer than usual species list, exceeding 200 species! Do not miss the chance and see for yourself!

Electronic map of Bulgaria

Tour I

Spring birding.

A birding tour established especially to those, who do not have much time, but who would like to see as much as possible! Although quite intensive with a lot of traveling, we still have enough time to enjoy some of the most representative birding areas in Bulgaria. The trip starts with a visit to the Eastern Rodopi Mountains where more than 20 species of breeding birds of prey (Black, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard etc.) as well as huge variety of small passerines (Black-eared Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Masked Shrike, Sombre Tit, Cirl Bunting etc.) are most expected. Further on a special attention will be given to the wetlands by the Black Sea Coast and along the Danube River (Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibises, Purple, Night and Squacco Herons, Ferruginous Ducks etc.). However this tour remains a good choice as regards time-value-long species list!
Best period: May-June.
Highlights: Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vultures, Levant Sparrowhawk, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Rd-footed Falcon, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, White and Dalmatian Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Night Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Red-necked Grebe, Whiskered Tern, Ferruginous Duck, Masked Shrike, Roller, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Golden Oriole, Syrian Woodpecker, Black Kite, Bonelli’s Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Barred Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-headed Bunting, Rock Nuthatch, Black Stork, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Sombre Tit, Penduline Tit, Alpine Swift, Paddifield Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Calandra Lark etc.

Itinerary. Day 1.
After arrival at Sofia, Varna or Bourgas airports we have a transfer to Plovdiv, where we stay overnight.
Day 2.
Stroll along Maritsa River and transfer in the afternoon to the realm of the birds of prey in Eastern Europe – the Eastern Rodopi Mountains.
Day 3.
It will be an active birding day along the canyons of Arda River.
Day 4.
Birding in the area and transfer through Sakar Mountains to the Southern Black Sea coast.

"Black-headed Bunting"

Day 5.
Birding in the hyperhaline lagoons and lakes around the town of Bourgas. Transfer in the afternoon to the Northern Black Sea coast.
Day 6.
Birding in the wetlands and steppes along the Northern Black Sea coast. Transfer in the afternoon to Srebarna Lake at the Danube River.

"Griffon Vulture"

Day 7.
Walk along the shores of the most famous lake for birding in Bulgaria – home to thousands of water-connected birds. Afternoon transfer to the city of departure (Sofia, Bourgas or Varna airports).
Day 8.
Transfer to the airport.

8 Day tour price is: 2 pax 885 Euro per person. 4 pax 835 Euro per person.
Single supplement: 110 Euro

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Tour II

Autum birding.

Conditionally named “Autumn tour”, it is usually realized at the end of the summer. Lying over two of the biggest migratory routes in Europe (Via Pontica and Via Aristotelis), the territory of Bulgaria is an important stop-over for many migrating and wandering birds during this season. The Black Sea coastal wetlands (lakes and lagoons) provide some of the best conditions for watching thousands of soaring migrants! Huge flocks, comprising hundreds and thousands White Storks, White Pelicans and Honey Buzzards could be seen per one day only along with many other birds of prey like Montagu’s Harriers, Black Kites, Short-toed Eagles, Levant Sparrowhawks etc. Additional tour will be performed through the Eastern Rodopi Mountains which is a breeding site of international importance for some of these species. The migration along Via Pontica flyway is a performance, attracting birdwatchers from all over the world each year! Be a part of it!
Best period: August-September.
Highlights: White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, Honey Buzzards, Montagu’s Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawks, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, Red-footed Falcon, Black Stork, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard, Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Pied Wheatear, Calandra Lark, European Shag, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Lesser Grey Shrike, Cirl and Rock Buntings, Black-eared Wheatear

Itinerary. Day 1.
Arrival at Varna or Bourgas airports. Welcome meeting and overnight around Bourgas.
Day 2.
A day devoted to watching the delightful autumn migration of soaring birds using the “Via Pontica” migratory route from different watchpoints near the town of Bourgas.
Day 3.
Transfer to the Northern Black Sea coast for birding around the steppes of Cape Kaliakra.
Day 4.
Whole day birding in the steppes and wetlands at the Northern Black Sea coast. Evening transfer back to the Southern Black Sea coast and overnight by Bourgas.

"White Storks"

Day 5.
The realm of birds of prey in Eastern Europe is expecting us this morning. We head to the Eastern Rodopi Mountains and the renown canyons of Arda River.
Day 6.
Whole day birding in the area.

"Pied Wheatear"

Day 7.
Birding in the area and transfer back to Bourgas at the Southern Black Sea coast.
Day 8.
Transfer to the airport for departure.

8 Day tour price is: 2 pax 885 Euro per person. 4 pax 835 Euro per person.
Single supplement: 110 Euro

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Tour III

Winter birding.

The wetlands along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast are traditional hotspots for birding during this time of the year. Spectacular variety and numerous flocks of waterfowl could be seen in the larger lakes or in the shallow coastal lagoons by the sea coast. These easily accessible sites of international importance house approximately 70% of the world's wintering Red-breasted Geese population. Globally threatened species like Pygmy Cormorants, Dalmatian Pelicans and White-headed Ducks occur also. A matter of luck is also the registration of Lesser White-fronted Geese – one of the most endangered species on the Earth. The rest of the list comprises many other water-connected birds (as grebes, herons, egrets, swans, dabbling and diving ducks, waders, gulls etc.), numbering several hundred thousands individuals as a total. A magnificent quantity of high quality – unforgettable view, recommended for each real birdwatcher!
Best period: January-February.
Highlights: Red-breasted Goose, White-fronted and Lesser White-fronted Geese, Red-crested Pochard, Red-breasted Merganser, Rough-legged Buzzard, Black-necked Grebe, White-tailed Eagle, Pygmy Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Bittern, Whooper and Bewick’s Swans, European Shag, Dalmatian Pelican, White-headed Duck, Shelducks etc.

Itinerary. Day 1.
Arrival at Sofia, Plovdiv or Varna airport and transfer to the Northern Black Sea coast for overnight.
Day 2.
In the morning we will try to find for the first time Red-breasted Geese grazing in the coastal fields. The rest of the day we spend around the local lakes, rich in waterfowl and especially famous for the wintering tens of thousands White-fronted and Red-breasted Geese.
Day 3.
Today we will have the chance to enjoy the numerous goose flocks taking off from Dourankoulak Lake – an amazing view, attracting birdwatchers form all over Europe.
Day 4.
Transfer Cape Kaliakra – a place, famous for its nesting steppe species of birds during summer. However the wintering inhabitants here are often quite interesting. The day ends at the Southern Black Sea coast.

"Red-breasted Goose"

Day 5.
Birding along the hyperhaline lagoons and lakes around the town of Bourgas.
Day 6.
Birding along the hyperhaline lagoons and lakes around the town of Bourgas.

"Dalmatian Pelicans"

Day 7.
Today we start the return journey through the town of Plovdiv housing the biggest night roost of Pygmy Cormorant in Bulgaria (numbering between 2000 and 4000 individuals).
Day 8.
Transfer to Sofia or Plovdiv Airport for departure (for arrival at Varna airport alternative program is available at no additional charge).

8 Day tour price is: 2 pax 885 Euro per person. 4 pax 835 Euro per person.
Single supplement: 110 Euro

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included: Accommodation: We stay overnight in small hotels and family-run pensions in en-suite rooms on halfboard (breakfast and dinner included). The price includes: transfer from/to the airport and throughout the whole journey, guiding according program, accommodation and boarding mentioned, entrance fees, VAT and all local taxes.
Excluding alcohol drinks and other personal expenses.

All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time 4 weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
No special fitness is required; easy walks on flat terrains up to 2-4 km/day; daypack is needed as well as sunscreen lotion
Equipment: Telescope, binocular and rain gear.

Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Ivailo.   

Birding guide Ivailo Nikolov, your local Birdingpal guide
My name is Ivailo Nikolov. I graduated in the Faculty of Biology of the University of Sofia with two specializations: 1 - Zoology of vertebrates and anthropology (with diploma work defended in ornithology); 2 - Fishfarming and ichthyology. For more than fifteen years I took part in many monitoring and other research scientific programs, concerning bird ringing, regional and migration studies on the avifauna throughout the whole country. My main interests are directed to investigations of the ornithofaunistical communities in different habitats: woods, meadows, shrubby areas and of course wetlands. The great field experience in finding and determination of all Bulgarian birds visually or by voice, collected so far in the country and throughout Europe, is of special importance for my recent occupation as a birding guide and organizer of birding tours in Bulgaria.

I would highly recommend Bulgaria and will certainly return myself. For anybody with a passion for raptors, like me, they are literally Eagles around every corner in the Rodopi Mountains. Our English speaking guide Ivailo was extremely knowledgeable and helpful (left me standing with airborne raptors) and went out of his way to ensure I has a successful visit. Many thanks Ivailo.
Mick Baron, UK. michael.baron3(AT)

Some facts about Bulgaria.

Location: Situated in southeastern Europe, Bulgaria occupies the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the North, via the Danube River, it borders on Romania, to the West - on Serbia and Montenegro and on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. To the South its neighbours are Greece and Turkey. To the East Bulgaria touches the Black Sea, which links it also to Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia.
The Black Sea borderline is 378 km (240 miles) long. The country's total territory is 111 000 sq. km (43 000 sq. miles).
Population: 7 801 273 (2003)
Religion: Orthodox
Mountains: 37 (biggest - Balkan Mountain: length - ~ 550 km.; width - ~ 30-60 km.); (highest - Rila Mountain - peak Musala - 2 925 m.a.s.l.)
Distribution of the lands: 0 - 400 m.a.s.l. - 59,8 %; 400 - 1000 m.a.s.l. - 27,6 %; 1000 - 2000 m.a.s.l. - 11,9 %; over 2000 m.a.s.l. - 0,7 %
Mean year temperature: + 10,5 °C (Abs. Min. - -38,3 °C ; Abs. Max. - + 45,2 °C)
Mean rainfall per year: 416 - 650 mm. in the lowlands; 650 - 1193 mm. in the highlands
Forests: broad-leaved - 21 600; coniferous - ~ 5 400; mixed - ~ 6 800 sq. km.

More facts about Bulgaria.

Guide books and CD's recommended:

Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe (Paperback). by Lars Svensson (Author), Peter J. Grant (Author), Killian Mullarney (Illustrator), Dan Zetterstrom (Illustrator), David Christie (Translator)

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Last update 20/02/2014