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WEATHER; all day sunshine with a chilly off-shore breeze.

Burgas is a fantastic place to go birding, I don’t like the traffic but the number of great birding sites far out-weighs the noisy traffic of this bustling city. Everywhere you go there are lakes, salt pans, reedbeds, and of course the Black Sea coastline with beaches, rocky pools and there are flocks of birds in the air everywhere you look. We saw nearly 100 species today which is a testament to how good this area is.

part of the huge Burgas Lake

We started at the Burgas Lake, parking on the side of a very busy road which was really noisy, but it was worth the trouble because so many species were in view. Both Dalmatian and White Pelicans, joined Mute Swans on the calm water with dozens of Great Crested Grebes and both Cormorant species, Great and Pygmy.

Great Reed Warbler

A flock of some 20 Black Terns were feeding in the distance we saw Common Pochard, Gadwall, Garganey, Shoveler, Mallard, Common Shelduck and lots of Black-headed Gulls. Much closer to us Grey & Purple herons flew over, Great Reed Warblers belted out their raucous songs a Kingfisher flew past us and a Dice Snake swan in front of us. Dancho heard Penduline Tit and a Marsh Warbler, we saw neither but we did see an Olivaceous Warbler in the bushes behind us. Overhead we saw a small passage of Honey Buzzards, both species of Storks and Marsh Harriers.

it looks like 2023 will see another mass Painted Lady invasion, we saw hundreds today

We stopped at a second pool, much smaller pool, further down the busy dual carriageway and there we found more species with Bearded Tit and Ferruginous Duck being the best of the bunch. We watched Marsh Harriers, many Common Terns, a few more Black Terns, an obliging Great Reed Warbler, an unexpected flock of a dozen RUDDY SHELDUCK flew over and a couple more Honey Buzzards flew past high overhead.

Dice Snake - Tony Moore

We drove around to the far side of Burgas lake passing through a couple of villages, it was much more quiet, far less traffic and a lot more bird song. Golden Orioles and Cuckoos called out with Nightingales, Blackcaps amd Great Reed Warblers. We scanned reedbeds for ‘crakes’ and the bushes for Warblers, a second Marsh Warbler called from dense cover and once again we never saw it.

A family party of Otters was nice to see, we also found a few butterflies with Grecian Copper being new for the list, dozens of Painted Ladies were on the move too. We had good views of Squacco Herons, Little Egrets, Pygmy Cormorants but no ‘crakes; turned up.

Three of the Otters we saw on the lake - picture by Tony Moore

We saw quite a few raptors, a Hobby, Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and a Booted Eagle carrying a snake, more Honey Buzzards flew over and a Common Kestrel hovered in the distance. Before we sat down for our picnic lunch we visited a couple more secluded bays on the Burgas Lake. At a bridge we found Hawfinch, Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrows, Black-headed Bunting and Red-backed Shrike.

record shot of the Imperial Eagle by Tony Moore

From a hillside we scanned a small inlet where we saw Lapwings, Mallards, a couple of Gadwall and a pair of Glossy Ibis dropped in. A couple of waders feed near a sandy spit but they were too far away to ID (probably Curlew Sandpipers). Dancho pointed out the buzzing rhythm of the River Warbler song, we searched for it in a some bushes but once again we struck out.

Spanish Sparrow

After eating our picnic lunch we drove round the shoreline Nature Reserve called Poda, last year we saw White-tailed Plover at this site. Today, apart from Night Herons along the entrance way we saw very little. It was hot and humid with a nice breeze but not many species were on show. The rafts built for nesting Common Terns were full of noisy terns with one or two pairs of Black-winged Stilts.

the marsh area behind Burgas Lake

The bay held just a few Yellow-legged Gulls, lots of Cormorants and a few Little Ringed Plovers, not much else. Dancho pointed out a White-tailed Eagle perched about s mile away, no one way convinced except for me.

We skipped visiting the Salt Pans near our Hotel in favour of driving up to Pomerie Pumping station where a couple of Broad-billed Sandpipers had been seen. It was a great choice because the area was covered in thousands of birds, a wonderful sight.

The sheltered lagoon held many species lots of them new for our trip list. We saw Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, a single White-winged Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Slender-billed Gull and Caspian Gull.

Caspian Gull with Lapwing and Little Stints

The number of Curlew Sandpiers and Little Stint was incredible, we also picked out Dunlin, Grey Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Curlew, lots of Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. Garganey and Gadwall loafed in the distance with Common Shelduck and we saw several Squacco Herons nearby.

Marsh Fritillary - photo by Tony Moore

We walked around an embankment to view Burgas Bay and to get closer to the waders in the lagoon. From there we found one of the BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPERS, what a beauty! Dancho also picked out a Sanderling amongst thousands of Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers.

mixed flock of waders, from top to bottom: Sanderling, two Little Stints, Dunlin, Broad-billed Sandpiper, two more Little Stints and last, Curlew Sandpiper

several more pictures of Broad-billed Sandpiper, above with Little Stint

a picture showing the longer bill of the Broad-billed Sandpiper compared to the Little Stint

Broad-billed Sandpiper by Tony Moore

Little Stint in summer plummage by Tony Moore 

Our final destination before we called it a day was the beach area in Pomerie, a Pallas’s Gull had been frequenting the area and we decided to look for it. It was very quiet there hardly any gulls, but we did add our seventh tern of the day to our list, Sandwich Tern! We are only missing Whiskered from the full set of 8.

two Marsh Frogs

The gull didn’t show and after a short while we departed and went back to our hotel for the night. 92 species in the bag, not a bad haul!