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WEATHER: high cloud for most of the day with sunshine later.

We had a lovely morning without rain, it was perfectly still and not cold at all. We set off on foot from the Yagodina Hotel and walked through the village. What a wonderful place this is, it’s like stepping back in time and if it wasn’t for a few cars you could think it was mid-19th century not the 21st.

Yagodina Village, isolated in the mountains but a wonderfiul place to stay, no cars visible!!

Hoards of House Martins dashed overhead with Barn & Red-rumped Swallows with gangs of Pallid Swifts swooping around the buildings. A Black Redstart sang from the building next door and a White Wagtail called from a telephone line.

We walked to the end of the village and took a track into the surrounding countryside, it was relatively quiet other than Chaffinches, Blackcaps, House & Tree Sparrows and a few Linnets. Our scanning of the distant mountainside produced very little, we saw more mammals than birds, Roe Deer and Red Fox.

Willow Tit finally turned up - taken by Tony Moore

On the way back down into the village we found one of our target species the Willow Tit, it gave us the run around but we nailed it in the end. Other species seen or were Great Tit, Common Chiffchaff, a distant Black Woodpecker (heard by Luke) and a Serin sat nicely for us outside the hotel.

Serin - by Tony Moore

We made it to the Trigrad Gorge at the famous Wallcreeper site before 10am, we saw Dipper and Grey Wagtail along the way. The gorge was alive with Crag & House Martins and Alpine Swifts with the occasional Raven flying over.

Trigrad Gorge looking for Wallcreeper

looking up the gorge towards the 'Devils Mouth' Cave

We waited 40 minutes before we heard the Wallcreeper calling then it was Dancho who found not one, but two Wallcreepers. Believe me they were distant, check out my digi-scoped picture below!

digi-scoped picture of the very distant Wallcreeper, enlargen the picture to see the bird

We walked up through a tunnel and began watching from there, the birds reappeared and this time they were much closer, the male bird was singing and displaying to his partner. Eventually they flew and so did we.

here the male is displaying to the female - Tony's best shot of distant birds

We had a long journey to Smoylen on long and winding roads, we made a stop at the top of the Prevaila Pass but found very little, Firecrest, Common Crossbill and a Ring Ouzel was singing.

We ate lunch in Smoylen before driving onto Kardzhali where we made a coffee stop not far from the Arda River. We saw Black Storks flying over the town and both Great and Pygmy Cormorants flying over the River.

Another birding stop was made in the hills above Krumovgrad where we spent an hour watching butterflies and a few birds, We heard more bird species than we actually saw! A Hobby was a nice find, also Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler and we heard Cirl Bunting, Nightingale and a distant Green Woodpecker.

Hobby - taken by Tony Moore

The sun was shining which brought out a few butterflies we found this nice Chapman’s Blue, also three Fritillary Butterflies: Queen-of-Spain, Knapweed and lesser Spotted.

female Chapman's Blue - Tony Moore

Knapweed Fritillary - Tony Moore

Talking of Lesser Spotted, Dancho heard a lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling from down by the main road, we tracked it down and had reasonable views of it before it flew off.

Queen-of-Spain Fritillary - Tony Moore

Lesser Spotted Fritillary - Tony Moore

It was after 5:30pm when we arrive in Krumovgrad so we agreed to abandon the walk in the park, Dancho was tired after driving all day. We ate Moussaka (Bulgarian style) for dinner which is served with yoghurt and was very nice.