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WEATHER: rain all day, light winds, wet and miserable

I can’t believe how bad the weather is on this trip! It is usually wall to wall sunshine and we are scrambling for sun-cream instead of rain coats. But instead it has rained everyday and today it hardly stopped all day.

The only dry period was first thing this morning when we walked through town down to the local Krumovitza River. From the main town bridge we stood and listed about 20 species, none of them were close encounters and some of them were fleeting views.

The River Krumovitza taken from the town bridge

Little Ringed Plovers dashed around on stony islands, Grey Herons and Great Cormorants flew along the river and an Olivaceous Warbler sang from bushes just below us. We could hear Nightingales, Cuckoos, Golden Orioles, Bee-eaters and the Olivaceous Warbler. Over the next 30 minutes we saw most of those and added Green Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, Black Stork and several other species to the list.

Little Ringed Plover

European Bee-eater

The Krumovitza River flows through a beautiful valley a few kilometer north of Krumovgrad, it is one of my favourite places on this tour. Usually, it is full of birds and we also see many butterflies, not today though! We hardly got out of the bus because of the rain! We saw a Little Owl near the entrance to the valley.

it was pretty miserable in the valley

Our first stop was on a bridge where we watched Common Nightingale, Cirl Bunting, Black Stork, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Common Cuckoo.

a soaking wet Common Cuckoo

We stopped further along the lane to look for Barred Warbler and found very little. Shrikes were very common we saw Red-backed and the occasional Lesser Grey. A Roller flew over us, it performed its rolling courtship display as it went.

Common Nightingale giving it large

Bee-eaters flew over, a distant Black-eared Wheatear was seen along with one or two bedraggled Brown Hares. Dancho heard an Olive Tree Warbler and we tracked it down getting very brief views of it.

We stopped on higher ground near a rocky outcrop, but we hardly got out of the bus, a Black-eared Wheatear brightened up the wet rocks. We scanned for Chukar and found zero birds, a few Crag Martins dashed about.

the valley in wet and misty conditions

One last stop produced a siting of a distant Hobby sitting in a dead tree, we heard Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and had glimpses of Sombre Tit before the rain drove us back into the bus. One lovely Orchid spike of the Loose-flowered Orchid brightened up the grass verge.

Loose-flowered Orchid

After picking up lunch supplies in town we continued towards our next hotel in the Eastern Rhodopes Mountains near Madzharovo. We ate lunch in a shelter on the edge of the town of Potochnitsa and afterwards we drove up the Vulture Feeding Station in the hills above us.

A few Griffon & Egyptian Vultures sat around a few stripped carcasses, looking cold and hungry and many more sat on a mountainside nearby. We also saw Hooded Crows and Ravens but not Black Vultures as we had hoped. We did find a few Woodlarks, Crested Larks, Tree Sparrows and Red-backed Shrikes in the open scrub around us.

Vultures on the mountain ridge drying out their wings

We made two more further stops en-route to our hotel, both were near the huge dam near the village of Studen Kladenets. The first stop was to look at a large mixed colony of Cormorants and Grey Herons, many pairs we busy feeding the almost fledged chicks.

At the dam itself we searched for Blue Rock Thrush but found a couple of pairs of Common Kestrels and high above us we found Black Kite and pair of Honey Buzzards that disappeared into the clouds.

That was our cue to depart and drive the short distance to our hotel.

A Red-rumped Swallow's nest seen in a bus shelter, note the enlongated entrance hole

After dropping our bags into our rooms we went for a wet walk along the driveway to the hotel. We saw several common species such as Corn Bunting, Greenfinch, Olivaceous Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow and Bee-eaters and high up on the surrounding cliffs we located a Griffon Vultures nest with a well-grown chick and a parent bird. The rain drove us back to the hotel and we called it a day.

Tree Sparrows were common along the entrance lane to the hotel

We ate dinner early, which was the best tasting meal we had had so far! Let’s hope the rain passes over by tomorrow.