Sunday, 14 July 2013

North of Varna

For a couple of hours last  Sunday and on Tuesday morning I managed to snatch some time to go birding near my Bulgarian home.

On Tuesday I was with Andrew and Ralitsa Bailey. Both work in the Middle East and have a base in Bulgaria just like me. Andrew is almost certainly a better Western Palearctic birder than me! 90% of my birding has been further south and/or east so it was good to have him around for plenty of reasons other than just the company.   

barn swallow

One of the most immediate conclusions of birding around the villages is the huge number of house martin this year. In previous years I have always thought there were more barn swallow with red rumped swallow a poor thrid. This year, there are house martin everywhere.

house martin

I presume it is the combination of a wetter and slightly more temperate year being warmer in spring and a little  cooler in summer. If you look closely, a very high proportion of the martins are juveniles suggesting a bumper breeding season. I am pleased to say my own home has its first ever house martin's nest this year too.


On Tuesday morning, the Baileys and I headed to Osenovo woods which follow a beautiful little stream. We got very good views of golden oriole, green woodpecker, Syrian woodpecker, middle spotted woodpecker and greater spotted woodpecker. Plenty of starling were around and a single white wagtail was seen. 

Goldfinch, greenfinch and chaffinch were numerous too with lots of young birds. 

Wood pigeon and collared dove added to the day list.

However there was no semi-collared flycatcher which was a target species for Andrew.

white stork

The lake that used to be at the end of the stream in previous years seems to have been drained so there was no hope of great reed warbler which I had seen in other years. 

European bee-eater

On the edge of the woods a solitary white stork was observed. Funnily enough last year I saw just one there too. It may ever have been the same bird. Bee-eater were common.

blue tit

The bird life was quite different from that seen on three days before in the much denser forest near Rogachevo. Here blue tit and long tailed tit were the most common sighting.

lake frog

Along the stream at Osenovo was other interesting fauna. Last year I had seen a terrapin. This year there were lots of frogs and dragonflies. Thanks to Mike Black for identifying the beautiful demoiselle below.

blue damselfly called beautiful demoiselle

On the plateau above Osenovo and near to my village, we came across two good birds of prey. These nearly made up for a short trip to Albena woods (after leaving Osenovo) which proved uneventful. 

foxy morph steppe buzzard

An almost burgundy-coloured buzzard was seen which was actually a foxy morph steppe buzzard. In this area, we can see long legged buzzard, common buzzard and steppe buzzard in summer so care must be taken with identification. 

booted eagle

The second bird of prey was a paleish version of the dark morph booted eagle. This is quite an unusual variant. 

Andrew and I went out birding again on Thursday to the steppe and Shabla areas of the north east coast. We turned up some good birds which I'll blog aboput next time.

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