This short winter break is designed to enjoy the spectacle of hundreds, possibly thousands (dependent on the year) of Red-breasted Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese. Flying into Bulgaria’s eastern coastal town of Varna puts us within just a couple of hours of the goose hotspot! We shall spend two nights in Bulgaria birding the
various wetland RAMSAR sites and associated farmland focusing our time on locating and obtaining good views and photographic opportunities of the various geese flocks. With the world’s weather ever changing and winters becoming milder, the wintering geese sometimes head north into Romania, therefore our itinerary is designed to be flexible to account for this. The next two nights we shall be based in Romania where, geese aside, winter birding can be exciting. During our time here we shall search for species such as Syrian Woodpecker, Pallas’s Gull, Dalmatian Pelican and roosting Long-eared Owls. Our final night shall be spent back in Bulgaria where we shall have time to explore other areas for Pygmy Cormorant and Sombre Tit.
On arrival into Varna, we shall head north along the Bulgarian coast towards the northernmost part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast known as Coastal Dobrudja. Here we shall check into our accommodation and enjoy some traditional home cooked food at our comfortable guest house. Overnight near Durankulak Lake.
DURANKULAK AREA, BULGARIA
Today we shall ensure that we are out for sunrise, ready for the goose spectacle of hundreds and thousands of geese! The nearby lakes Durankulak and Shabla are designated RAMSAR sites and a wintering ground for almost the whole population of the globally threatened Red-breasted Goose. In the last 20 years, up to a staggering 62,000 Red-breasted Geese have been spending the winter in the area of these two lakes so we will spend the day exploring the lakes and the surrounding farmland searching for large goose flocks. Of course, numbers vary from year to year and depend on the severity of the winter. However, we shall have the whole day to enjoy the area and to look for other key species such as Syrian Woodpecker, White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier and Long-eared Owl. If the weather is calm, we may also visit a gorge where Eurasian Eagle Owl can sometimes be seen at dusk. Overnight near Durankulak Lake.
Days 3 & 4:
DANUBE DELTA REGION, ROMANIA
After another morning birding the nearby wetlands and farmland for more goose action, we shall then drive north again crossing the border into Romania. En route we shall keep an eye out for Calandra Lark, Long-legged Buzzard, Rough-legged Buzzard and Hen Harrier as well as a chance of Saker Falcon. We shall arrive in the town of Tulcea for lunch and check into our hotel where we shall spend the next two nights.
The rest of the afternoon and the whole of the following day shall be spent exploring the Danube Delta region. Red-breasted Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese and sometimes Lesser White-fronted Geese can be found in this region and we shall spend our time checking various areas of farmland and Steppe Lakes. Other birds that we are likely to see include Pallas’s Gull, Caspian Gull, Dalmatian Pelican and maybe Saker Falcon.
TULCEA to DURANKULAK
Our morning itinerary shall be dependent on how well we have done with finding our target species! During the afternoon, we shall re-trace our steps, returning to Bulgaria and birding at various stops en route. Overnight near Durankulak Lake.
LAKE VARNA, BULGARIA
Today we shall spend the morning exploring the wetland areas again for our last chances of watching and photographing geese before taking the short journey to Varna. We will have time to explore some woodland for woodpeckers, particularly Grey-headed Woodpecker and Middle Spotted Woodpecker before spending our last few hours birding the area around Lake Varna for species such as Sombre Tit, Pygmy Cormorant and Hawfinch. We shall then transfer to the airport for an early evening return flight to the UK.