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Spring Birdwatching Bulgaria Tour - 8 Days

Spring Birdwatching Bulgaria Tour

Early Birdwatching Tour in Bulgaria

An 8-day Spring Birdwatching Bulgaria Tour which is leisurely paced and available on request, giving the opportunity to observe up to 220 species. This outstanding birding tour presents a large array of south-eastern specialities, including the Paddyfield, Olive-tree, Olivaceous, Barred, Orphean, Sub-alpine and Eastern Bonelli's Warblers, Masked, Woodchat and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Pallid Swifts, Crag Martins, Red-rumped Swallows, Rose-coloured Starlings and other unusual passerines such as the Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Ortolan, Black-headed and Rock Buntings. There is also a good chance of seeing Scops and Eagle Owls, Capercaillies, Chukars and Rock Partridges.

We shall also explore the highland Boatin and Tsaritchina Biosphere reserves in the Central Balkan National Park, a region where where Ural, Tengmalm's and Pygmy Owls can be seen and heard. Red-breasted and Semi-collared Flycatchers, Woodlarks, Tree Pipits, Mistle Thrushes, Ring Ouzels, Wood Warblers, Crested, Willow, Marsh, Blue and Coal Tits, Treecreepers, Goldcrests and Firecrests, Hawfinches, Common Crossbills and Nutcrackers are some of the forest birds to be seen. Woodpeckers are well represented too, with Wryneck, Syrian, Black, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted and Grey-headed varieties being some of the most interesting.

On this birdwatching Bulgaria trip we will climb ever upwards until the track ends at the Balkan alpine meadows, where birds of Bulgaria highlights such as Water Pipits, Alpine Accentors, Whinchats and Shore Larks can be found. The Western Rhodopes presents us with major tour highlights such as the exquisite Wallcreeper, while the impressive canyons of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains are among the top of Europe's list of locations for raptors, among them Griffon, Egyptian and Black Vultures, Golden, Lesser-Spotted, Short-toed, Booted, and Eastern Imperial Eagles and Long-legged and Honey Buzzards. The Eastern Rhodopes also offer a unique opportunity to see the cliff-nesting population of Black Storks and, with luck, Saker Falcons.

As an extra site on this birdwatching Bulgaria tour we will visit Lake Kirkini in Greece, where we can expect to find gatherings of Greater Flamingos, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Spur-winged Lapwings and Eleonora's Falcons. You can also enjoy excursions to the Kamchia River and its famous riverine forest, the Strandja and Sakar mountains, the Black Sea coast and the region of South Dobrudja. The steppes of Kaliakra are the favourite habitat for birds such as the Red-footed Falcon, Hoopoe, Pied, Isabelline and Finsch's Wheatears, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipits, Black-headed Buntings and, especially in the evening, Stone Curlews, while Long-legged Buzzards breed on the cliffs.

We also explore the most exciting birding locations along the Romanian Black Sea coast, including the southern part of the Danube Delta, with a stop en route to look for White-tailed and Booted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzards, Levant Sparrowhawks, Middle-spotted Woodpeckers, Thrush Nightingales and other East European woodland birds.

This birdwatching Bulgaria tour also offers views of the famous passage of migratory birds along the Via Pontica flyway, such as White Pelicans, Black Storks and raptors. You can also spot Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers and, with luck, Terek Sandpipers.

We travel up to the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve by the Danube River for close views of Dalmatian Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants, Red-necked Grebes, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Squaccos and Purple Herons. Ruddy Shelducks and Ferruginous Ducks are among the notable waterfowl.

Spring Birdwatching Bulgaria Tour highlights include:

  • The opportunity to observe up to 220 species of birds in a variety of unique habitats including Balkan alpine meadows and the canyons of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains
  • Tour the Kamchia River and its famous riverine forest, the Strandja and Sakar mountains and the region of South Dobrudja
  • Explore the Danube Delta and the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve
  • Visit Lake Kirkini in Greece and Black Sea coast of Romania
  • View the passage of migratory birds along the Via Pontica flyway
  • Excursion to the Boatin and Tsaritchina Biosphere reserves in the Central Balkan National Park

Do you like the look of this tour but would prefer to visit in a different season? Have a look at our Winter Birding Tour in Bulgaria

Alternative Tour Name: Spring Birdwatching Trip



Day 1
Day 1 - Bulgaria (Varna - Durankulak)

Take off for Varna. When you get there, someone from BRANTA TOURS will meet you. Transfer (40 miles) to our exclusive lakeside accommodation at Branta Birding Lodge, which is on the Northern Black Sea coast, just 3 miles from the Romanian border. On the way, stop at the resort of Albena to see its alluvial forest Baltata.

The Branta Birding Lodge, which looks out over Durankulak Lake, will be our home for the next four nights. We will enjoy the great view and see the exhibition, which has detailed photos and maps.

Day 2
Day 2 - Shabla

After breakfast, we drive 10 miles south to Lake Shabla, which is the most important place for geese and ducks to spend the winter in Bulgaria. We look for the Paddyfield Warbler, the Red-necked Grebe, the Whiskered and Black Terns, the Red-crested Pochard, and the Bearded Tit at this time of year.

On the fields near the lake, you might see the beautiful black-headed feldegg race of the Balkan Yellow Wagtail. Barred Warblers often sing from patches of scrub. On the way, you might see a Calandra Lark, a Lesser Grey Shrike, or a Syrian Woodpecker.We'll spend the afternoon at Shabla Touzla, a small, high-salinity lagoon whose mud is known for being good for healing.

Here, we could see the Little Tern, the Red-footed Falcon, the Barred Warbler, the Lesser Whitethroat, the Moustached and Olivaceous Warblers, the Reed Bunting, the Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, and the Little-ringed Plover.

Come back to our base at Branta Birding Lodge for dinner and our second night.

Day 3
Day 3 - Lake Durankulak

After breakfast, we spend the day exploring Lake Durankulak, which is a Ramsar site and a beautiful natural area close to the border with Romania and the Black Sea. The brackish waters and huge reed beds are home to the Pygmy Cormorant, Ruddy Shelduck, Bittern and Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Red-necked Grebe, and Ferruginous Duck.

The Paddyfield Warbler is one of the major tour highlights. Around the lake, there are a lot of Red-footed Falcons and Lesser Grey Shrikes living in tall hedges and windbreaks. Collared Pratincole, Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark, Barred Warblers, Syrian Woodpecker, Bee-Eater, and Roller all live in the steppe next to it and in the area around it.

Come back to Durankulak for dinner and a third night in our very comfortable base of operations.

Day 4
Day 4 - Kaliakra

We got going after breakfast to spend the day exploring Cape Kaliakra and the area around it. Kaliakra is an archaeological site and the largest area of unspoiled steppe that still exists in Bulgaria. It is also the site of ancient homes and fortresses from more than 2,500 years ago.

The 70-meter-high cliffs are a great place to watch dolphins, and the abrupt turn of the coast to the west brings a lot of migrating birds to this area. The steppe, which goes right up to the edge of the cliffs, has a lot of different kinds of plants, like the Narrow-leaved Peony and three plants that only grow in Bulgaria, Greece, or the Balkans.

Kaliakra is one of the best places in Europe to see Rose-coloured Starling, though the number of birds there changes a lot from year to year. Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Roller, and, especially in the evening, Stone Curlew are more certain species of the steppe, while Eagle Owl, Rock Thrush, Alpine Swift, Red-Rumped Swallow, Pied Wheatear, and Long-legged Buzzard breed on the cliffs. We should be able to find Olive-tree Warblers in brushy areas, and we might even see a Levant Sparrowhawk.

The afternoon will be spent at Yailata, which, like Kaliakra, is an archaeological reserve with beautiful sea cliffs and steppe in the back. The area is home to Hoopoe, Pied Wheatear, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, and Black-headed Bunting. Two rare mammals live here: the Steppe Polecat and the Romanian Hamster. The Broad-leaved Peony is a plant that grows only at this site. When you go to the beautiful Bolata Gorge in the evening, you can see the Little Crake and the Pygmy Cormorant. There are also Eagle Owl nests here, which we hope to see at night.

Return to Durankulak for dinner and your last night at "Branta Birding Lodge."

Day 5
Day 5 - Durankulak - Bourgas

After breakfast, you will be driven the 120 miles to the city of Burgas. On the way, you might see birds like the Eastern Bonelli's Warbler and the Ruddy Shelduck, and you might even see an Imperial Eagle.

We stop to look around the Kamchiya Reserve, which has one of the most northerly alluvial or Longoz forests in Europe. The 1500-hectare reserve is made up of dunes, a beach, an estuary, and small freshwater pools. This area has a lot of interesting plants. In the marshes, you can find the rare Nuphar lutea and Nymphaea alba, and in the dunes, you can find Silene euxina and Coryspermum nitidum.

The Semi-collared Flycatcher, the Short-toed Treecreeper, the Black, Grey-headed, and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, the Goshawk, and the Lesser Spotted Eagle are all birds that nest there.

Our home for the next two nights is the small port of Pomorie, which is just a few miles north of Burgas.

Dinner and the first of two nights in a beautiful hotel on the Black Sea shore.

Day 6
Day 6 - Bourgas Saltpants

Today, we go to Lake Atanasovsko Reserve, which is one of Bulgaria's five RAMSAR sites and is probably the best place to watch birds in the country. The 1690-hectare complex has a lot of saltpans, freshwater pools, marshes, scrub, and semi-steppe. Because the reserve is on the Via Pontica flyway in eastern Europe, it gets a lot of migrants in the spring and fall. More than 300 different kinds of birds have been seen here.

We will be able to see hundreds of Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Collared Pratincoles (Black-winged have also been seen here), Kentish Plovers, Gull-billed Terns, Mediterranean Gulls, Little Terns, Marsh Harriers, and Penduline Tits nesting on the lake. At this time of year, we may also see Caspian Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Squacco Heron, and Marsh Sandpiper. In the reedbeds, Cetti's Warbler and Little Bittern raise their young, and there are many Black-headed Buntings and Red-backed Shrikes in the fields around the lake.

A site that is so big and beautiful and in such a good location can also have surprises.

Coryspermum nitidum and Lepidotrichum uechtritzianum are two plants that are endangered in Europe that can be found in the reserve.

For dinner, we go to a folk-tavern in the old town of Nessebar and eat traditional Bulgarian food. Come back to the hotel for a second night.

Day 7
Day 7 - Poda, Ouzungeren and Mandra

We will spend the morning looking around the wetlands just south of Burgas. Spoonbill, Little Egret, Purple Heron, and Glossy Ibis all have nesting colonies in the reedbeds of Poda. Waders like the Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, and, if you're lucky, the Terek Sandpiper could be seen in nearby brackish pools. The Black-Winged Stilt and Savi's and Cetti's Warblers nest in the reeds.

On the nearby lakes of Ouzungeren and Mandra, we might see a Ferruginous Duck, a Bearded Tit, a Squacco, or a Night Heron. We should also keep our eyes on the sky for flocks of White Pelicans that come to spend the summer there.

In the afternoon, we go back to Varna for a tour of the city before our last dinner and night in Bulgaria. As we head north, we stop at the Salinas of Pomorie to watch the waders as we do every year. One of the best places in Europe to see Rose-coloured Starlings breeding is in the nearby small village. 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. We look for cetaceans by climbing up to bushes on cliff tops above the water. The Sombre Tit, the Rock Bunting, the Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, the Wood Lark, the Tawny Pipit, and the Barred, Olive-tree, and Olivaceous Warblers are all good breeders.

Day 8
Day 8 - Varna Aairport

After breakfast, you will be taken to the airport for your flight home.

Wildlife species expected to see:

Paddyfield, Olive-tree, Olivaceous, Barred, Orphean, Sub-alpine, Eastern Bonelli’s Warblers, Masked, Woodchat, Lesser Grey Shrikes, Pallid Swift, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Rose-coloured Starling, Rock Nuthatch, Sombre Tit, Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, Ortolan, Black-headed, Rock Buntings, Scops, Eagle Owls, Capercaillie, Chukar, Rock Partridge,  Pygmy Owls, Red-breasted,  Semi-collared Flycatchers, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Mistle Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Wood Warbler, Crested, Willow, Marsh, Blue and Coal Tits, Treecreeper, Gold and Firecrest, Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Common Crossbill and Nutcracker, Wryneck, Syrian, Black, White-backed, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Griffon, Egyptian and Black Vultures, Golden, Lesser-Spotted, Short-toed, Booted, and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Long-legged and Honey Buzzards, Saker Falcon, Greater Flamingo, Dalmatian and White Pelicans, Red-footed Falcon, Hoopoe, Pied, Isabelline and Finsch’s Wheatears, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Tawny Pipit, Black-headed Bunting, Stone Curlew, whilst Long-legged Buzzard, White-tailed and Booted Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Thrush Nightingale, White Pelicans, Black Storks, Raptors, Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpipers, Terek Sandpiper, Pygmy Cormorants, Red-necked Grebe, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Squacco, Purple and other herons, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck, Nutcracker, Alpine Accentor, Firecrest, Crossbill, Ring Ouzel and White-backed Woodpecker

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 else 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.

What is the group size?

Group size: 2 to 10 people

How is the accommodation?

We provide comfortable accommodation for individuals or small groups at : *** Branta Birding Lodge (4 nights), which is a very attractive and recently built fledgling base with 8 twin-bedded and 3 single rooms, located just close to the Lake Durankulak - the world�s most important wetland habitat for the globally threatened Red-breasted Goose and many other notable ducks, waders and breeding specialities including Paddyfield Warbler. Built on 2 floors, overlooking the Lake Durankulak and Black Sea, this is an ideal location for the wildlife enthusiast. *** POMORIE HOTEL (2 nights), which is a highly attractive and recently restored, private establishment with 15 en suite twin-bedded rooms complete with TV. Breakfast and dinner will be taken at a folk-tavern offering traditional Bulgarian cuisine. ***** VARNA HOTEL (1 night) * Single rooms are always available, though a supplement is often charged for single occupancy.

Promotional statement

We offer a 5 percent discount to anyone who books a place (and sends deposit) by 31 December.

Air travel

It has never been easier to reach the Bulgarian Black Sea as British Airways now flies direct to VARNA (just south of Albena). Another option could be to take a charter flight offered by Balkan Holidays from May to September. It is also possible to fly to Burgas or Bucharest. For this we take an extra charge of EUR 150 to cover the tour leaders' travel expenses. This is entirely optional leaving you completely free to make personally your flight reservations and to pursue your travel arrangements with an airline company or your own travel agent. Please contact us if you would like further clarification: info@branta-tours.com

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

8 Days

Price & Availability

EUR689 / 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
  • On Request
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 2 to 10
  • Late April, May, early June
  • +10 Years
  • Leisurely
  • No
  • English
  • Varna Airport
  • Varna Airport