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YAGODINA - TRIGRAD GORGE - PREVALA MOUNTAIN PASS - KRUMOVGRAD We had a 'cracker' of a day, literally! Nutcracker was our bird of the day by a long shot, what a great bird................

It was a roller-coaster of a day, the weather was good all day, very chilly in the morning, about 5C but it was clear with little wind. We met at 6am for our morning walk in and around the village of Yagodina. Both Willow and Sombre Tit were the outstanding sightings, both were seen very well. Generally it was quiet but we did see Black Redstart, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Common and Pallid Swifts, Serin, Red-rumped Swallows, White Wagtail and a few common species.

up above the snow line in the Prevala Pass at 2000 meters looking for Nutcracker

After breakfast we set off for Trigrad Gorge passing through some magnificent scenery along the way, we saw Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Jay and Cirl Bunting from the bus.​ At the gorge we hit a low point on our 'roller-coaster' or more appropriately 'big dipper' as we dipped big time on our main target bird, WALLCREEPER. It was small consolation to hear from other birders that this elusive gem had been missing for a few weeks! Nevertheless we had a good time listing more Tits, both Marsh and Coal went on the list, together with Peregrine Falcon, Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Common Raven and lots of House Martins. 

A record shot of Ring Ouzel - this is the subspecies​ Alpestris you can just make out the fine barring on its underside

The middle of day was spent high up in the pine forest of the Prevala Mountain Pass, the scenery was just stunning. We drove through the forest up to 2000 meters into alpine meadows of extreme beauty. A different set of bird species entertained us in the cold for a couple of hours. Ring Ouzels were common and along with Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, Common Crossbill, Jay and both Goldcrest & Firecrest we were kept very happy. However our main target the NUTCRAKER eluded us, not even a distant call was heard. We ate our picnic lunch before we set off back down the mountain. After stopping to watch Red-backed Shrikes we turned a corner and bumped into a NUTCRACKER feeding on the ground with a Jay, it flew up into a nearby tree and sat for a few minutes before it flew off, we all got in-the-scope views, what a great stroke of luck.

not too good but you can see what this bird is!  NUTCRACKER

It was now late afternoon so we had to press on, we made two more stops, where we added Pygmy Cormorant, Great Egret, Night Heron, Great Cormorant, Common Nightingale, Cirl Bunting and Syrian Woodpecker to our list.

Common Nightingale

We arrived at Krumovgrad at 6:30pm and went straight to our hotel, checked in and had a lovely relaxed evening meal. Guess what bird of the day was?