A 12-day bird photography tour in Bulgaria providing excellent conditions to take pictures of colourful and attractive European birds, such as the Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Black-headed Bunting, Red-backed Shrike, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Pied Wheatear, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole and many others.
This tour includes 5 different regions in Bulgaria – the Danube area, the Black Sea coast, the Sakar Hills, the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and the Western Rhodope Mountains. We take photos from fixed (permanent) hides, tent-hides and vehicles. We normally do early morning and late afternoon photo-sessions to get the best possible light for photography, and we make the transfers to different areas in the mid-day hours.
Day 1: The tour starts from Sofia at 14.00 h (2 p.m.) at the latest. The tour participants will be picked up either from Sofia Airport, or from their accommodation place within the city of Sofia if they have arrived in the previous days. Then we have a 3-hour transfer northeast to the Danube river area, where we will be staying overnight in the town of Belene.
During the rest of the day we will have a photo-session from a fixed hide targeting the European Bee-eater and European Roller.
Day 2: Morning session from the same Bee-eater and Roller photography hide.
Then we will have a mid-day 3 hour transfer east to the Eastern Balkan Mountain Range, near the city of Shumen. Here we have a setting of several permanent hides for photographing a big variety of forest and farmland birds, including the Common Cuckoo, European Green Woodpecker, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Syrian Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Yellowhammer, etc. We will have an afternoon session here and will stay in this area for two nights.
Day 3: A full day of forest and farmland birds photography from the permanent hides.
If there is a convenient site for Eurasian Hoopoe photography in this area we will visit it too.
Day 4: We will have another morning session targeting the forests birds. Then we will move north to the northern Bulgarian Black Sea coast, where we will be staying for one night. During the rest of the day we will have a photo-session at Cape Kaliakra and the surrounding steppes, which are home to species such as the Alpine Swift, Pied Wheatear, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Black-headed Bunting.
Day 5: In the morning we will visit the coastal lakes of Durankulak and Shabla. Here our focus will be on species like the Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck (flight shots only), Black-headed Bunting, Yellow Wagtail (the black-headed subspecies feldegg), Paddyfield Warbler, Savi’s Warbler.
Then we will drive back south to another part of the Eastern Balkan range, where we can photograph Semi-collared Flycatchers in one of their nesting sites in oak forests using tent-hides.
In the late afternoon we will have another short drive further south – to the Bourgas coastal wetlands, where we will spend the rest of the day. Here we can have very good opportunities for photographing Great White Pelicans, Dalmatian Pelicans (in non-breeding colors), Squacco Heron and a variety of other water birds, such as the Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avoset, Kentish Plover, Collared Pratincole, Little Tern, Sandwich Tern. The Eurasian Penduline Tit will be amongst our targets here too.
Overnight in the area of the city of Bourgas.
Day 6: After the morning session at the Bourgas lakes we will drive inland and reach another interesting site, the Sakar Hills. Here we usually take very good flight shots of the Eastern Imperial Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard hunting on the Souslik colonies in the area. Various passerines can be photographed here, including the Olive-tree Warbler, Black-headed Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Masked Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear. We will stay in the town of Topolovgrad for one night.
Day 7: Full day in the Sakar Hills. In the early evening we will do an hour transfer further south-west – to our next destination, the Eastern Rhodope Mountains, where we will be staying for three nights.
Days 8 & 9: Two full days in the Eastern Rhodopes.
In one of the days we will make use of our permanent hide for photographing Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vultures and Black Kites feeding on carcass. There are good chances of photographing other birds of prey coming to the carcass, such as Eurasian Black (Cinereous) Vulture and White-tailed Eagle.
Apart from the vulture and raptor hide photography, here we can also put tent-hides on the river banks, where we have excellent chances of photographing feeding Black Storks.
Other target birds for photography in this area will be the Masked Shrike, Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Cirl Bunting, Sombre Tit.
Day 10: After the morning session in the Eastern Rhodopes we will be travelling to the Western Rhodope Mountains, crossing lots of picturesque and scenic areas. We will be staying in the area of Trigrad, which is one of the most reliable places in Europe for Wallcreeper photography.
Accommodation in the area of Trigrad for two nights.
Day 11: A full day in the Western Rhodopes. Apart from the Wallcreeper, here we will try to photograph other attractive birds like the White-throated Dipper, Firecrest and Goldcrest, Crested Tit, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Black Redstart.
Day 12: Transfer (3 hours) to Sofia Airport, where we will finish the tour. If we have time we can visit the mountains in the southern vicinity of Sofia, where we have excellent opportunities to photograph the Spotted Nutcracker and other high mountain birds.
This tour itinerary could be changed on the spot depending on the weather conditions and the success in photographing the target birds of the tour participants.
On this tour we will visit colorful meadows, sand dunes and shrub habitats, which are full of flowers, butterflies, reptiles and other wildlife providing opportunities for enjoyable macro-photography too.