Monday, 28 May 2012

Bulgaria - day 2

Back to Bulgaria, though as an aside I am pleased to report that I finally caught up with the Thames Bonaparte’s Gull at the weekend, which along with the Courser were the two birds that I might have missed due to being in Bulgaria. News came on around lunchtime and so I scooted down to Barking Bay with the kids, and was pleased to find it bobbing about doing very little. It transpires that the bird seen on Saturday at Crossness was in fact a different bird, who would have thought it? I was happy to have seen either, and it takes my London total to a reasonably-respectable 240, with a couple in hand. I’m some way off the top, but if I continue to live in London (as is the plan) then gradually it will go up and up. Unless they lump everything, in which case it will go down and down... that said I’m not sure if I would mind that much if the Laridae simply became “Gull”. You could bird without a care in the world, looking forward a bit to January 1st, 2030: “Ah look, Gull over there, a big black one. And another there, a bit smaller, and grey. Tremendous variation in Gull, don’t you think? Well, that’s on the yearlist, no need to look at any more. Onwards.”

So, if you recall, we had travelled south-west down to the border regions near Turkey, and I think my personal tick tally was 14, including a superb Masked Shrike. Easily one of the best days birding I’ve ever had, we saw a vast number of birds, and saw them really well in fantastic surroundings. So, a well-deserved sleep after a monumental first day. Head literally on the pillow, and on the point of closing my eyes, a funny noise from outside. Yup, still time for one last tick - a Scops Owl had started calling from directly outside the hotel.

Day 2 dawned, a bit overcast, and a bit breezy. The pre-breakfast walk was nowhere near as productive as the previous day, and no bee-eaters. A modicum of activity on the Black Sea, with a few Terns, and a smart “fuscusLesser Black-back, the first one I’ve seen. Breakfast back at the hotel, quick packing (for today we were moving northwards up the coast), and then our first stop were the large wetlands near Burgas. Gazillions of birds, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, a large flock of Curlew Sands. We were primarily there for the Dalmatian Pelicans though, and there were over 80 of these stately birds resting on groynes, whilst the odd one flew in a very leisurely fashion. We added a few more common waders, and then one of the gang (not me I hasten to add) chipped in with three Broad-billed Sandpipers in with the main flock of Curlew Sands. Very distinctive, I'd like to think I'd recognise another, though in reality I am not holiding out much hope - it's probably one of my easiest UK ticks - one of the most common rare birds, if you see what I mean.

We carried on northwards, through a variety of places whose names I can't remember. Highlights were a White Pelican in amongst some Dalmatians, which allowed close comparison and this is one I'll definitely be able to identify in future. White Pelican has a massive beak, whereas the Dalmatians were all spotty and had tails......

I'll get my coat.

We visited a few sites on higher ground, adding a few more birds. A site near a ford, again the name of which escapes me, was my favourite. There were Red-rumped Swallows, need I say more? The tactic was to sit on the shingle near the river bank, and wait. Sure enough.....

To be continued. Sorry, that sounds crap, but what with this work malarky, there are not enough hours in the day. For starters I need more wine. Then I need to go to Wanstead Park and check for Reed Warblers, and then I have this sneaking feeling that tonight is going to be moth-tastic, so I have some preparation to do. Laters....


  1. Agreed, great photos. The bunting particularly is a beaut. Your ideas about gull taxonomy are genius.