Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Bulgaria - Again (Visit 2:2010)

This is a little backwards as I have been so rushed with work and family and disorganised and am writing the trip report for the second trip before posting the blog for the first! 

Hey ho - hopefully makes things a little more interesting.  Pictures are to follow as I am waiting for them to be sent to me on return to UK.  The pictures will be courtesey of Martin Sutherland who has joined me on this trip - which is for work!!

We are at the same site as the first trip in the SAKAR IBA in southern Bulgaria, we are working on a site that is principally secondry grassland but is surrounded by mixed scrub and downy oak woodland and is adjacent to a very mature river valley again with lots of woodland.


We arrived last night a the hotel at 0100 local time after leaving home in the Midlands (UK) at 0800.  Long day will be the same coming back.  Trip from the airport to the hotel was fairly uneventful - Common Kestrel was probably the highlight but then most of the journey was in the dark.  We had one deer - probably Roe and a single scuttling European Hedgehog.


Up early for site walkover and breeding bird survey.  Sun-up at 0600 and so were we to be greeted by low cloud and mist and not particularly warm.  Sun was trying to peek through promising a very nice hot sunny day.  Birds were plentiful with lots of Common Nightingale and European Golden Oriole (which were absent from the first survey in April).  On the first patch of scrub we had pairs of Red-backed Shrikes (again absent from the site in April).  Couple of Woodchat Shrikes were also knocking about the site.  Alot of commoner stuff too - Corn Buntings are everywhere - seems to be a very good site for this species with males singing from almost every available song perch.  So nice to see Corn Buntings in such good numbers - a species unfortunately in severe decline in the UK!

Mist got very thick for another hour during which time I got on to a new species for me singing from within a very dense Hawthorn - River Warbler - fantastic - unfortunately not seen but definitatly River Warbler - we got 2 days to get on to it and will try and get a picture; altough on return to the area after breakfast it was not there so may just have been on passage.  Life tick before breakfast is always a good way to start the day.

Post breakie - not alot doing on site walkover; until one of the wooded gullies - we had had a couple of 'Great-reed Warblers' singing in the scrub - so not a GRW site but definately Acro song and quite strong.  Finally on the third bird of the morning we saw it and got to see where it was in the scrub and waited and waited and waited some more.  Finally good views of the bird and was so not GRW.  Looked very Hippolais and def not Acro; but sounded very wrong - turned out to be Olive-tree Warbler - the book does say this species can sound like a 'sleepy GRW' - dont know about sleepy it certainly confused me!! I think there are a couple of pics to come of this bird!

Also had distant female Red-footed Faclcon and very embarrasing a life raptor tick of Honey Buzzard - must get to Norfolk this year and see them in the UK - was there once but the day was ruined by an escaped cage Blue Rock Thrush in Hemel Hempsted!! (Another story!)

Afternoon very hot - some migrating White Stork (10) and a few raptors - Buteo buteo and ruffinus and 2 Booted Eagle (pale) including one displaying!

Very good day - species list to follow at end of trip and this will probably also include the list from the last trip!

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