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WEATHER; dull, overcast, some light rain to start, windy at the coast. Brighter later.

Our last transfer day along the Black Sea coast went smoothly we had a few birding stops and we spent the morning in the Burgas area before we set off for Varna and beyond.

We started at the Burgas Salt pans just a few hundred meters from our hotel, we had light rain dull conditions, a brisk breeze blew in from the sea. At the pans we saw a large flock of Curlew Sandpipers many of them in their brick-red summer plumage looking beautiful. A few Little Stints joined them, but all in all there wasn’t much out there. A few Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Common Shelduck and large numbers of Greater Flamingos were in the distance. A single Glossy Ibis flew over and that just about sums up our visit to the salt pans.

Just as we were about to board the bus, Dancho spotted a Syrian Woodpecker, this bird showed really well and was a lifer for all of the group, a really nice find.

Syrian Woodpecker - taken by Tony Moore

Syrian Woodpecker taken by me

Driving up to Pomerie we visited the ‘Salt Museum’ area where lots of breeding terns can be found. Dozens of pairs of Sandwich Terns joined a few Common Terns on rafts and shingle banks provided for them around the museum exhibits (ancient salt pans). It was very windy there, we added Ruddy Turnstone to our list and also watched Mediterranean Gull, Little Terns, Great & Pygmy Cormorants, Avocets and not much else.

a nice picture of Black-winged Stilt - Tony Moore

Sandwich Tern offering afish to his mate - Tony Moore

an Avocet with a young Chick

Before setting off we visited an area east of the Burgas to view some large open flat fields looking for Collared Pratincoles, a track led us to the eastern salt pans. We heard Mars Warbler and Barred Warbler without seeing them, also present was Common Whitethroat, Common Cuckoo, Olivaceous Warbler and the usual Corn & Black-headed Buntings.

The caterpillars of the Brown-tailed Moth - one to avoid

We walked to some small pools, an old quarry area, where we found a Penduline Tit, Dancho led us to a nesting area and we found a half-competed Penduline Tit’s nest. Waiting quietly we got excellent views of a apir of Pendulines as they continued the construction of their nest.

two shots of Penduline Tit by Tony Moore

partially constructed nest

Around the pools we saw Night Herons, Mute Swans, Little Egret and looking up there was a massive passage of Swifts, Alpine and Common. Many House Martins, Barn & Red-rumped Swallows joined them, we also saw Common Buzzard and a Short-toed Eagle.

not a family party of Great Cormorants - there are two Pygmy Cormorants with two Great Cormorants, check out the difference in size!!

Just before we left Dancho pointed out three Collared Pratincoles flying over, they were quite high up but easy to see, mission accomplished. We set off for Varna after stopping to buy some snacks in the nearby village.

not a monochrome picture - black and white birds

Driving up through the Saka Hills was a slow and bumpy process the road was in a bad state of repair and it rained all the way, usually we stop at the head of the pass to look for raptors, in particular the Steppe Buzzard, but not today. We saw a few species from the van, such as Hawfinch, Skylark, Common Kestrel and Corn Buntings.

An hour later we arrived at a huge woodland near Goritsa where we got out for a walk. The rain had stopped and sun came out, many butterflies were on the wing especially Painted Lady butterflies, in fact we noticed that hundreds of them were moving through the glades in all in the same direction, a mass migration was taking place. We spent an hour trying to track down a Semi-collared Flycatcher, getting only short views of a female. During our time there we had glimpses of Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted and more prolonged views of Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

Wood Warbler - taken by Tony Moore

Dancho tracked down a Short-toed Treecreeper, we also saw lots of Chaffinches, Goldfinch, Blue Tit and towards the end we found an Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler by the side of the track and Dancho got us all onto a Wood Warbler that was singing 50 meters into the woodland. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen as we left the woodland.

we found lots of these Lizards in the woodland - no ID yet

We took lunch at a roadside restaurant, it was a late lunch around 3pm!! We then spent t next hour driving therough Varna and onto the coastal resort town of Balchik. There we searched some white cliffs for roosting Eagle owl without seeing one, we did see Red-back and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Linnets, Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters, Hoopoe (heard) and Common Whitethroat, Dancho heard another Barred Warbler but we didn’t find it.

We arrived at our hotel in Krapets around 6pm, we had time to shower and settle before dinner was taken at 7:30pm. I couldn’t believe that we were sat around a log fire in the middle of May.