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Autumn Bird Migration Tour in Bulgaria - 8 Days

Autumn Bird Migration Tour in Bulgaria

Autumn Migration Birding Tour in Bulgaria

An 8-day Autumn Bird Migration tour in Bulgaria which is leisurely paced and available on request. This exciting tour to the western coastal zone of the Black Sea features one of the most pronounced movements of migratory birds occurring in Europe.

On this tour we visit some of the most important wetlands in Europe, unspoiled dunes and beaches, pristine steppe habitats and wooded valleys at a time when human visitors are few and the azure blue waters of the Black Sea may be enjoyed in the warmth of early autumn sunshine.

The famed passage of raptors and storks over the Bosporus is fed by a concentrated corridor of birds funnelling along the Bulgarian coast, known as the Via Pontica flyway. Some local breeding birds of Bulgaria will have departed the area, but numerous small passerines, waders, and waterfowl are moving down from their northern breeding grounds. Our Bulgaria tour catches the migration at its peak, when countless thousands of raptors, storks, pelicans, waders and small passerines ensure a thrilling day-to-day birding experience. Located at the crossroads between east and west the checklist of species promises to be one of the longest and most exotic for any European tour.

Among the species you are likely to encounter on this tour are raptors like Lesser Spotted, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Steppe, Long-legged and Honey Buzzards, four species of Harrier, Levant Sparrowhawks, Sakers and Red-footed Falcons. White and Black Storks, Dalmatian and White Pelicans also soar overhead, while Pygmy Cormorants, Great Egrets and other Herons, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis and Cranes are prevalent in the wetlands. Just about anything is possible on the wader front – Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers are regular visitors and small passerines often pass through in droves, while Ruddy Shelducks and Ferruginous Ducks are notable wildfowl.

We shall also try to find mammals on this bird migration Bulgaria tour, including three species of dolphins in the Black Sea, as well as Jackals, Marbled and Steppe Polecats, Romanian Hamsters and European Sousliks. We also organise night excursions to observe nocturnal behaviour. We may also encounter unusual amphibians and reptiles, such as the Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Stripe-necked Terrapins, Balkan Wall and European Legless Lizards, Reddish Whips, Leopard and Four-lined Snakes.

NOTE: This tour is limited to 10 participants and offered at a reduced promotional cost.

Bird Migration Bulgaria Tour highlights include:

  • The opportunity to see up to 220 species of birds and witness the annual migration along the Via Pontica flyway
  • Enjoy a wide range of habitats, from wetlands and unspoiled dunes and beaches along the Black Sea to pristine steppe and wooded valleys further inland
  • Trips to Lakes Durankulak, Atanosovsko, Shabla and Cape Kaliakra and the Strandja Natural Park
  • Chance to explore the salinas of Pomorie, Cape Emine
  • Seek out the unique mammals, amphibians, reptiles and marine life of the region

If you’d like to try an alternative tour, look at what our Spring Birdwatching Bulgaria Tour has to offer.

Alternative Tour Name: Autumn Migration Tour
Day 1
Day 1 - Arrival

Fly to Varna (via Sofia), where you'll be met by a knowledgeable local guide. Then, drive 40 miles to the Branta Birding Lodge near Durankulak, which is on a lake near the Black Sea.

Day 2
Days 2 to 4 - Lakes Durankulak and Shabla & Cape Kaliakra

From this very comfortable base in the Coastal Dobrudja, we go to Lakes Durankulak and Shabla, two pristine brackish wetlands that are on the main migration route and serve as major staging areas for large groups of birds, such as the Pygmy Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck, Red-crested Pochard, and many waders and small passerines.

Cape Kaliakra is a beautiful steppe area that is surrounded by high sea cliffs (where Eagle Owls nest) and has a number of important archaeological sites. If we look out to sea, we should see Mediterranean Shearwaters (Yelkouan race) skimming the surface of the water. We should also see a steady stream of flying birds and, if we're lucky, dolphins jumping out of the water.

On the steppe, we look for birds like the Stone Curlew, Dotterel, Hoopoe, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipit, and flocks of Bee-eaters. We also keep an eye out for mammals and reptiles, like the Steppe and Marbled Polecats, European Souslik, and Romanian Hamster, which live there. Raptors and passerines that are on their way south often stop at the cape.

Day 3
Day 5 - Burgas

We started the 90-mile trip to Burgas, stopping along the way to see the famous alluvial forest in Kamchiya Reserve (known as Longoz). Birds that live there all the time are the Black, Grey-headed, and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, and the Short-toed Treecreeper. People also go to Nessebar, a charming Byzantine port with many old buildings. We'll be shown around Sozopol, which is near Burgas and is the westernmost point of the Black Sea. We'll keep looking up to watch the raptors fly by (Lesser Spotted Eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and Steppe Buzzard amongst others). Pomorie, a small port a few miles north of Burgas, will be our home for the next two nights.

Day 4
Days 6 and 7 - Lake Atanosovsko and Strandja Natural Park

When you visit nearby Lake Atanosovsko and the saltpans around it today, you will see a huge variety and number of birds, too many to list. This is the best place to see birds in Bulgaria. It is also one of the best places to see birds in Europe. You can see waders like Terek, Marsh, and Broad-billed Sandpipers here, and raptors pass through in a spectacular show. We might also see the Imperial, Spotted, and Steppe Eagles, Pallid Harrier, and Saker, in addition to the species we have already seen. There are also thousands of cranes.

South of Burgas, we go to the reed-lined Lakes Mandra and Poda, which are surrounded by water meadows and forests. We see Spoonbill, Purple, Squacco, and Night Herons, Great and Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilt and Avocet, Bearded Tit, and passing pipits and wagtails there. We also go to Strandja Natural Park, which is Bulgaria's oldest nature reserve, to look for the White-backed Woodpecker and to learn more about it.

Day 5
Day 8 - Salinas of Pomorie, Cape Emine and Departure

After breakfast, we started the trip back. As we head north, we stop at the Salinas of Pomorie to watch the waders as we do every year. In the old town of Nessebar, where there is a lot of traditional architecture, you will spend an hour. The Yelkouan Shearwater, the Yellow-legged Gull, and its sub-species michahellis are among the birds that can be seen there. As we head north, the road climbs through the wooded hills of the Eastern Balkan mountain range. Our next stop is at Cape Emine. When we get to the cliff-top brush above the water, we look for whales and migrating birds of prey. Places where the Sombre Tit and the Ruddy Shelduck live are also visited. After our picnic and one last stop to watch birds nearby, you catch your flight home.

Wildlife species expected to see:

Lesser Spotted, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Steppe, Long-legged, Honey Buzzards, four species of harrier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Saker,  Red-footed Falcons, White and Black Storks, Dalmatian, White Pelicans, while Pygmy Cormorant, Great Egret, herons, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Crane, Marsh, Broad-billed Sandpipers, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck, Jackal, Marbled, Steppe Polecats, Romanian Hamster, European Souslik and more…

What is included?

  • Accommodation
  • B & B in twin rooms;
  • Seven nights dinner;
  • Packed lunches except for days 1 and 8
  • Drinks: mineral water, fizzy drinks including Coca Cola, tea/coffee
  • Transportation by 7 or 14-seater minibus (4WD);
  • All excursions plus transfers in Bulgaria;
  • Guidance;

What is not included?

  • Lunch on days 1 & 8;
  • Alcoholic drinks and tips;
  • Transport to and from Bulgaria;
  • Single room supplements.
  • Anything that is not mentioned in the itinerary and "what is inlcuded"

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Why should I book with Branta Tours?

1. Small groups and 4WD vehicles make it easy to explore even the most remote and hidden places. 2. Location-related content: visits to very unique places, very comfortable hotels, bird lodges and guesthouses in good spots, good food, and good company. 3. Choice of birding spots: Our tours include stops at the best places to see birds, where we are always on the lookout for unexpected things. So, we see as many species as possible, and we often see more than even the most ambitious birders had hoped for. 4. Flexibility: We can change the dates in our program to work at any time you want. 5.Quality of observations: Our goal is to have high-quality birdwatching in terms of how long we watch, how close we get to the birds, and how we think about the direction of the light. We are happy to see the same species again and again if they show their behavior, sex, age, or plumage in different ways. 6. A network of people who work together: We work with local rangers and experts who keep us up-to-date on what's going on with birds. This saves us a lot of time when we're looking for rare birds. 7. Exchange of information: When we meet other birdwatchers on our trips, we share information with them. 8. Pavel Simeonov is a professional guide and ornithologist. He leads most of the tours himself. As your full-time escort and driver, he keeps a sharp eye out to make sure nothing gets missed. This adds to the impressive total on the final checklist. Also, we are happy to say that Birdwatch readers chose Branta Tours as the top-ranked tour company that gives its customers high-quality service and vacations (cf. Birdwatch Magazine, February 2010, Issue 212).

Who is your leader?

Most of the tours are led by Pavel Simeonov himself. He is one of the best naturalists and bird experts in Bulgaria. Swarovski recommends him as a bird guide. Pavel is involved in national and international conservation programs, so he can give a lot of background information about wildlife issues and even cultural ones. As a bird guide and trip leader, he has taken many groups on trips. He is an international expert on projects to protect the environment and biodiversity. He also started the non-profit group Le Balkan-Bulgaria. He is involved in different studies of the "Via Pontica" flyway, which runs along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. He is also involved in several monitoring and management projects for globally threatened species, mid-winter counts of water birds and raptors, and many other international programs for the development of ecotourism.

Air Travel

British Airways now has direct flights to VARNA, making it easier than ever to get to the Bulgarian Black Sea (just south of Albena). You could also take a charter flight from May to September, which is something that Balkan Holidays offers. Burgas can also be reached by plane. For this, we charge an extra EUR 150 to cover the travel costs of the tour leader. This is completely optional, so you can make your own flight reservations and make travel plans with an airline or your own travel agent if you want to. Please get in touch with us at office@branta-tours.com if you need more information.

What is the recommended personal items?

Binoculars are a must; scopes are optional, but the tour leader will bring one for the whole group A flashlight might come in handy. Sitting down to watch wildlife is more comfortable with a small square of foam mat.

If Emergencies

If problems come up close to the time of the meeting, you can call us on our cell phone, which is 0887 30 87 53. This number can also be given to family, friends, employers, etc. as a way to get in touch with you in case of an emergency during the tour.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

8 Days

Price & Availability

EUR895 / per person
Single Supplement EUR 75
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Branta Tours

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Tour Facts

  • Bulgaria
  • Set Departure
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 1 to 10 people
  • 8 Days
  • September to October
  • +10 Years
  • Leisurely
  • No
  • English
  • Varna Airport
  • Varna Airport