Monday, 29 October 2012

Autumn in north east Bulgaria

It was a very long summer in Bulgaria this year. September and October have also been exceptionally warm and dry.

I noticed some effect of this during my birding around my home area this last week.

For a start, the influx of common buzzard and rook from the north hasn't yet happened though it must be imminent. I didnt spot any fieldfare either.

 winter wren at near-by Rogachevo

Indeed walking around the village itself I kept coming across black redstart. This is a passage bird here but it has clearly liked the hills and the weather up till now this autumn. It will move on soon I'm sure. In the meantime the  phenomenon of every village street and lane having them is being enjoyed.

black redstart in the village

There are a few breeding yellowhammer in the summer but in winter they are re-inforced. This seems to be one bird that has arrived.


The winter flocks of tree sparrow and of house sparrow which roam the village are only now being formed up.

the house sparrow are beginning to flock

One new observation for me is that the village collared dove have taken to roosting near my house. Indeed every morning, very early I can get up and see them on a wire right outside my house.  They have taken the spots occupied by barn swallow in the summer.

early morning collared dove outside my house

My trip to near-by Rogachevo yesterday for Sunday lunch provided me a chance to do some birding there. Here too, the winter pattern of birding is not yet established. In winter there are mobile groups of goldfinch and linnet with a few siskin thrown in. 

Yesterday I didn't see any mobile flocks but I did see small numbers but not flocking goldfinch and of siskin

siskin hiding its face at Rogachevo

There were other finches around too.

the same siskin buried in the tree

A hawfinch was happily exposed on the top of one of the tallest trees.

hawfinch looking out at the top of a tall tree

I haven't often seen chaffinch venture out of the near-by forest into the lighter woodland and scrub on the forest edge but a couple did it yesterday.

chaffinch also at the top of a tree

Nearer the ground,  winter wren seemed in less of a hurry to move on and find food than usual.

one of many magpie at Rogachevo

One of the most obvious sightings in the area was the very large number of magpie and a smaller number of jay.

sparrowhawk at Rogachevo

I had seen a female goshawk in myown village three days ago. Possibly the same one I had seen the summer before carrying off a full grown magpie to its death. With all these magpie around I was a little surprised that the bird of prey seen a couple of times above was "only" a sparrowhawk. Mind you those finches and sparrow must look attractive.


  1. You're getting about a bit Rob? Hvnt visited Bulgaria yet but plan to in the great scheme of things. Am trying for a week in Istanbul and a week on the other side of the Black Sea at Batumi in Georgia for Sept migration next year. Am off for 2 weeks on 20th November to South/Central Maroc (again) shortly.....

    When are you back in SA/

    As you have probably noted, the Shetlands has had a bumber crop of rarities this Autumn with the Scillies a poor second and as for the birders on the Azores! - Portland pulled in what could be the first WP record of a Pale Legged Leaf Warbler from way the other side of the Urals. If accepted would be amazing (2 races apparantly, just to muddle matters).

    ATB Laurie -

  2. Laurie. I'm back in KSA by the weekend. Then I'll be carrying out my new KSA birding policy of less visits but to more varied places. There is a plan to' go to Tabuk, NW Saudi in November. I hope it comes off. Its the best place (and winter is the best season) to see "European" birds like blackbird, robin, corn bunting, goldfinch, greenfinch etc and also locals like sinai rosefinch. All would be additions to my Saudi list. I might be able to do a weekend in Ethiopia as its so cheap and easy to reach from KSA but otherwise there is long wait for anymore globe trotting Rob