Friday, 2 April 2010

Bulgaria 2009 - Part 1

I was lukcy enough to have 3 trips to Bulgaria in 2009. These were work trips but nevertheless was able to get some birding, sight seeing and general wildlife watching done. Our work was to set up breeding bird surveys for a project on the Black Sea coast of NE Bulgaria. Our local guide, friend and fellow ecologist was very up for showing off the region and as we had been there alot we were also very familiar with where to go to see the best birds.

One of our transect walks was on the last bit of Steppe Grassland on the Black Sea coast. It was truely amazing and was packed with Calandra, Sky and Crested Larks - the noise of all of these birds was incredible! At one point we probably had 25-30 Calandra Larks over head displaying. Their flight is very bizzare especially when they stall in mid air - they are quite reminiscent of a teradatctyl!
The weather was generally very good for the duration of all of our trips - although am not sure the winter trip was that great - very cold with lots of snow but when you are looking
at over 100,000 geese of which up to 16,000 are Red-breasted I guess you take the rough with the smooth. I has to dip out of that trip as my 3rd child was born 4 days before the trip! I will try and get some winter pics off my colleague although from memory I don't think they are that great - the geese were very distant! He did have a result mind - Long-tailed Duck on the sea which caused a bit of a stir with the local ornithologists who were helping with the project.

Another snap of the steppe - very early in the morning!!!

Most of the breeding transects were along planted shelter belts in agricultural land so the day to
day birds were fairly common passerine species. Good numbers of Ortolan Buntings and lots of Golden Orioles in the shelter belts - we even found a nest!

Shrikes were everywhere - in the scubby areas and in the shelter belts - both Red-backed and Lesser Grey were very plentiful and we managed to pick up a single Woodchat which made a nice change! (the ones on the left are RB Shrike)

On one of the first trips in 2008 I managed to get to go ringing with our guide and had a adult male Red-backed Shrike in the hand - dont know where the pictures of that went but will try and dig them out. 2009 ringing in really good woodland one of the mornings after the survey the locals caught me a Hawfinch - shame it was a juvenile but at least you get an idea of the beak!!

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