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WEATHER: rain for most the of day, no change there then!

As expected it was raining this morning when we got up for breakfast, there was no pre-breakfast outing as this was 'packing' day and we had to set off for the airport at 9am.

All went very smoothly the traffic was light it was dull and cloudy all the way with rain for the most part. At the airport we saw some sunshine. We dropped the group off on time and returned one of the buses. Dancho, Tony and myself then piled onto Dancho's bus for the jounrey to Sofia, a  31/2 hour drive.

We stopped once we were over the border for fuel and then later for a lunch stop. We were in a gorge near Blagoevgrad and whilst eating our lunch we saw a GOLDEN EAGLE and a few Griffon Vultures, just as Dancho had predicted!

a record shot of the Golden Eagle by Tony Moore

Other species seen in Bulgaria during the drive to Sofia included Roller, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, White Stork, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Common Kestrel and lots of common species.

At the airport in Sofia we collected Luke at 4:30pm and whilst waiting for the others to arrive we went for walk in a fabulous little conservation area right next to the terminal buildings.

this area of ponds, scrub, small copse of tree lies adjacent to the terminal buildings at Sofia Airport, it was full of birds.

female Red-backed Shrike - Tony Moore

Tony, Luke and Myself enjoyed some great birding in cold, wet conditions. We saw Red-backed Shrikes, Great Reed Warbler, Goldfinch, Tree Sparrow, Orphean Warbler, Blackcap, Common NIghtingale, hundreds of Sand Martins , a few Common Swifts and some Barn Swallows.

Great Reed Warbler - Tony Moore

We heard Green Woodpecker, Moorhen and we saw Honey Buzzard, Common Kestrel and a flyover Montagu's Harrier. All these were within a few meters from the aiprort buildings, amazing! A fklyover woodpecker was most probably a Great Spotted but it could have been a Syrian!

Dave and Fred arrived on time at 5:30pm we all then piled onto the Dancho's bus for the journey to our hotel in the foothills of the Vitoushi Mountains.