Last year I booked this trip, with Spatia Wildlife, a company I had been with before. I thought April 5th may be a bit early for migration, but you can never tell. Anyway come April 4th, I drove down to Heathrow and stopped overnight at the Holiday Inn, J4 M4. I caught the morning BA flight to Bucharest, and after arriving had a three and a half hour transfer – advertised as two hours. We stayed at a lovely guest house, called Uncle Rosti, or something like that – http://www.booking.com/hotel/bg/pri-bai-rusi-guest-house.bg.html – very nice.
The area we stayed, was Kyulevcha, near Shumen – google Maps.
Next day we visited a wetland reservoir, with three hides. We tried the ‘morning’ hide – well disappointing wasn’t the right word – two LRP’s, 2 Greenshank, 1 Little Egret, two Common Sandpipers. The weather was not very good – iso 1600 weather – dull, cloudy and cold – not a good start I thought. The ‘afternoon’ hide was a bit better – some more LRP’s, a few ‘black-headed’ Yellow Wagtail [ ssp. feldegg], White Wagtail and a Marsh Harrier.
“The migration is late”, said Miro, our guide – “we’ll try another location tomorrow”.
Next day we drove an hour east towards Varna, to a bit of ‘protected’ wetland, adjacent to a steelworks – nice! Anyway, there were several Black-winged Stilts, Avocet and also Marsh Sandpiper. Weather was a bit better, some sunshine. We used portable dome hides, which were required to get ‘low-down’ – ideal to get into the bird’s eye view.
Next days back to the wetland, where we had a few more species, some Green Sandpipers, some more Yellow Wagtails, and some distant Garganey.
This formed the pattern for the week – and to be fair, it gradually improved as the week went on, both weather-wise and bird-wise. We got to know our locations and knew what times of day to visit which locations.
The group were very nice – Steve, who actually lives 5 miles from me, as it turned out, Susan, who comes from Worcestershire, as did Melvin. They were all good company for the week.
The only issues I had, aside from the lack of birds, which we are all powerless to affect, was that the vegetation from the hides, was too high, making it very difficult to isolate a single bird, rather than having lots of cloning to do when post-processing the images. Maybe a bit of pre-season ‘gardening’ wouldn’t have gone amiss.
A good bird count for the week – 90 species.
Little Grebe, G C Grebe, White Pelican, Cormorant, Pygmy Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Garganey, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Osprey, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Grey Partridge, Eurasian Coot, Avocet, Black Winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Temminck’s Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Snipe, Ruff, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo [heard], Hoopoe, Kingfisher, G S Woodpecker, L S Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker [heard], Skylark, Crested Lark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Nightingale, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler [heard], Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Willow Tit, Penduline Tit, Magpie, Jay, Rook, Hooded Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.
Anyway I managed a few decent images – see below.