This was our 5th trip to Bulgaria with Neophron Tours; all have been tailor-made for just the two of us. The first tour, in 2010, was mainly for birds and bears in the Western Rhodopes (yes, we did see a bear), followed by two trips in 2011, June for butterflies in the Pirin and Rila mountains (93 butterfly spp.) then autumn migration along the Black Sea coast in September (170 bird spp.) In July 2013 we went looking for more butterflies in different areas including the Central Balkans and Vitosha mountain (about 80 spp. of butterfly). Each trip was a great success and we have not yet tired of Bulgaria’s impressive and readily accessible wildlife. This latest tour was arranged at very short notice by Dimiter Georgiev (Neophron Tours) with no particular targets in mind and no fixed itinerary deciding on a daily basis where we wanted to go and watching whatever wildlife we came across. Our guide, Minko Madzharov, telephoned ahead to book accommodation as needed. We began with a 4-night stay at Chryssohorafa near Lake Kerkini then moved on to southern Bulgaria, from the interesting pyramid-like cliffs around Melnik to the Western Rhodopes, the Eastern Rhodopes and on to the Sakar Hills. Our last afternoon was spent in Vitosha mountains above Sofia.
Everything worked out very well. It was a relaxed, slow-paced trip yet we saw a good range of birds, mammals, insects and plants amidst wonderful scenery. Accommodation was very comfortable throughout; food was good, plentiful and fairly cheap. Crossing the Bulgarian-Greek border was quick and simple both ways, we only had to show passports at toll-style kiosks without getting out of the car. The weather was mixed, often cloudy or with a cool wind, occasional rain and thunderstorms, but also some hot, sunny times. The region had some very heavy rains in the weeks before our arrival; river and lake levels were high and vegetation was often lush and green. Minko is an experienced and enthusiastic birder, also very keen on reptiles and amphibians - in fact an all-round naturalist, which suited us very well as we look at everything that crosses our path. Minko was the right mix of professional, considerate, helpful guide and really good company, totally happy with the flexibility and non-target style of the trip. We felt we’d made another good friend in Bulgaria.
We can highly recommend Neophron Tours; they offer a wide range of set tours or will arrange short or long trips to suit individual needs. Let Dimiter know what your targets and interests are (birds, dragonflies, butterflies, plants, mammals, photography, culture...) and he will design a trip at a very reasonable price.
CONTACT: Dimiter Georgiev, Neophron Tours Ltd
Tel: 00 359 52 605 155 Mobile 00359 888 420 159
27 May Met by our guide at Sofia airport late morning. Drove south (stopping on route at Illindenci, between Rila and Pirin mountains) crossing into Greece at Kulata (SW Bulgaria) and on to Chryssohorafa, east of Lake Kerkini. SOFIA TO KERKINI
28 May a.m. 2½ hr. boat trip on Lake Kerkini then to Mandraki and other areas around the lake. Late afternoon by Strymen river northeast of Lake Kerkini. LAKE KERKINI
29 May a.m. Dykes/drains/cultivated areas around Lake Kerkini.
p.m. Sidirokastro village and forest to NE. LAKE KERKINI
30 May a.m. Lake Doirani west of Kerkini on Macedonia border; then woodland at Ano Poroia. p.m. Mandraki and other areas around Lake Kerkini. LAKES DOIRANI AND KERKINI
31 May a.m. Drove back to Bulgaria. 2 hours at Rupite before lunch in Melnik. p.m. Tracks, scrub and rough ground near Melnik. RUPITE, MELNIK
1 June a.m. Open grassland, vineyards, low sandy cliffs and rough tracks near Melnik. Early afternoon returned to hotel in Melnik. Late afternoon meadows/tracks/woodland by Rozhen Monastery and surrounding villages. MELNIK, ROZHEN
2 Jun Drove to Western Rhodope mountains via southern Pirin mountains.
Day walking in conifer forests between Dospat and Batak, around Beglika Reservoir. MELNIK TO TESHEL
3 June Pre-breakfast visit to steep cliffs near hotel in Teshel for chamois. a.m. Trigrad gorge and nearby meadows and woodland. pm. Meadows/cultivated areas/higher conifer forest. TESHEL-TRIGRAD-DOSPAT AREAS
4 June a.m. Drove to Eastern Rhodopes, mostly alongside Arda river. pm. Gorna Kula and Krumovitsa river. On to Krumovgrad with stops on route. GORNA KULA-KRUMOVGRAD
5 June Meadows, hills, scrub and vulture feeding site near Krumovgrad. KRUMOVGRAD
6 June a.m. Madzharovo area via Studen Kladenets reservoir to the steep rockface by Arda river. p.m. Driving/walking beyond Madzharovo. Evening Krumovgrad town for Scops Owls. MADZHAROVO
7 June a.m. Tracks by Arda river/Madzharovo then Topolovgrad in Sakar Hills. Visit to Lesser Kestrel reintroduction project at Levka, several roadside, farmland, river stops on route. MADZHAROVO-TOPOLOVGRAD
8 June Whole day around grazing land, farmland and scrub near Topolovgrad. TOPOLOVGRAD
9 June a.m. Topolovgrad to Sofia via Plovdiv. Lunch at Aleko hut, Vitosha mountain. pm. Walking in conifer woodland and heath-like areas of Vitosha. VITOSHA MOUNTAIN
10 June Late morning to Sofia airport for return flight.
PLACE NAMES as used in this report (in Bulgaria unless specifically noted as Greece)
Ano Poroia Extensive Oriental Plane woodland near the town of Ano Poroia, north of road between Lakes Doirani and Kerkini. Greece
Arda river Tributary of Maritsa river, flowing 290 kms through Bulgarian and Greek Rhodope mountains.
Batak-Dospat Refers to areas of forest and reservoir (Beglika) west of Devin, Western Rhodope mountains.
Beglika Reservoir Between Batak and Dospat, west of Devin.
Chryssohorafa Small town east side of Lake Kerkini, Greece.
Dolna/Gorna Kula On Krumovitsa river, 5 kms northwest of Krumovgrad , E Rhodopes.
Dospat-Batak Refers to areas of forest and reservoir (Beglika) west of Devin, Western Rhodopes
Gorna/Dolna Kula On Krumovitsa river, 5 kms northwest of Krumovgrad , E Rhodopes.
Illindenci Short detour east of E79 (Sofia-Greek border) - rocky area, flower-rich scrub.
Krumovgrad Town SE of Kardzhali in Eastern Rhodopes.
Krumovitsa river Tributary of Arda river; we viewed river near Gorna Kula.
Kulata Border crossing into Greece at SW Bulgaria.
Lake Doirani On the Greek-Macedonian border West of Lake Kerkini. Greece
Lake Kerkini c.45 mins from Bulgarian border crossing at Kulata. Greece
Levka The Lesser Kestrel reintroduction site, southern Bulgaria, east of the Rhodopes
Madzharovo Small town NE of Krumovgrad, Eastern Rhodopes by Arda river.
Mandraki Village on northern shore of Lake Kerkini, Greece.
Melnik Southern slopes of Pirin mountains SW Bulgaria. Famous for its towering sand cliffs (pyramids) and wine.
Aleko Hut Vitosha mountain, above Sofia
Rozhen Monastery Flower- and insect-rich meadows around the monastery; nearby villages and higher forest in Melnik region.
Rupite Hot, dry area (hot springs) south of Melnik with rocky, scrubby hillside.
Sidirokastro East of Lake Kerkini, off the main road (continuation of E79 from Bulgaria). Steep cliffs with Byzantine ruins, etc. Road from village climbs higher into forested hills.
Studen Kladenets Large reservoir surrounded by oak forest, pines and scrub. East of Kardzhali.
Teshel North of Trigrad Gorge, Western Rhodope mountains.
Topolovgrad Town NE of Madzharovo/E of Khaskovo in Sakar hills.
Trigrad Wallcreeper site, Western Rhodope mountains
Vitosha Mountains south of Sofia.
We flew from Stansted to Sofia with easyJet, arriving late morning. Our guide, Minko Madzharov, met us at the airport and we immediately drove southwards towards the Greek border. Stopped for lunch on route before a short detour to Illindenci, between Rila and Pirin mountains (Long-legged Buzzard, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Calandra Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Yellow-bellied Toad, Balkan Goldenring Dragonfly, Swallowtail, Black-veined White and Clouded Yellow Butterflies). Back on the main road (E79) we followed the Struma river, through Kresna gorge and crossed into Greece at Kulata and on to Chryssohorafa east of Lake Kerkini. We stayed at the comfortable, welcoming Hotel Limneo in Chryssohorafa. The owner, Nico is a friendly guy, fully aware of the needs of birders and wildlife enthusiasts (he exhibits at the Rutland Bird Fair). The hotel offers packed lunches if required. No restaurant but there are 4 or 5 small taverna-style restaurants in the village square two minutes walk from the hotel. Everyone here was very friendly.
Breakfast at Limneo is great. Any time you like and plenty of choice with hot and cold options, good coffee and proper tea - even Earl Grey for those who like it - a real feast to set you up for the day. A packed lunch (arranged the previous evening) is well-worth considering; today we had ham, cheese and salad sandwiches, an apple and a box of juice.
Having eaten too much, we staggered to the car for the drive to Lake Kerkini and boarded a boat for a 2½ hr. trip. Heading quickly to the middle of the lake we soon encountered a flock of fishing Greater Cormorants - hundreds of them, all around us. After lots of photographs we moved to the northeast part of the lake where trees emerge from the water. Hundreds of birds. All around us, in the air, on nests in trees, standing around beneath the trees, swimming beside the boat. Greater and Pygmy Cormorants, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Spoonbills, Black-crowned Night Herons, Squacco Herons. Fabulous. Reminded us very much of Bharatpur, India. The birds were very tolerant as the boat drifted slowly between and round the trees; we had extremely close views of everything.
Dragging ourselves away from this spectacle, we passed many Great Crested Grebes, Common Terns and a few ducks before reaching the artificial nesting platforms literally covered in Dalmatian Pelicans (a few Great White Pelicans on the water). Four Glossy Ibis flew by but all too soon we were back on shore. Compensation came with huge numbers of Nettle-tree Butterflies swarming over damp earth.
We drove to the northern edge of the lake at Mandraki village, seeing a Honey Buzzard on the way, and we ate our sandwiches under a tree beside the lake with a Penduline Tit and Little Bittern keeping us company. Good views across the lake here with fringing reeds and patches of water-lily (lots of Squacco Herons). Just as we were about to leave, Minko called us - a WILDCAT. No mistaking that thick, black-ringed tail and broad head; it was carrying a big snake (maybe Caspian Whip Snake). Moments later it was mobbed by a Hooded Crow and away it went. We know there’s always a chance of hybrid cats, but this animal showed features of a true wild cat. Amazing.
By 2.30 pm it was getting very hot and we decided to return to the hotel to freshen up and catch up on our notes. Out again by 4.30pm to a bridge over the Strumen river northeast of the lake. We walked tracks both east and west of the bridge. Water Buffalo are a feature of this region, wandering the flat grassland beside the river. Wrong kind of buffalo, of course, but this scene, backed by stunning mountains, was reminiscent of the Lower Zambezi river at Mana Pools in Zimbabwe!!
Plenty of birds around including Lesser Spotted Eagle, two Eleanora’s Falcons, a colony of Yellow-legged Gull, Great White Egret, Spoonbill, Purple Heron and Glossy Ibis feeding in marshy patches. Calandra Lark, Nightingales, Golden Oriole, White-tailed Skimmer and Green-eyed (Norfolk) Hawker dragonflies and many damselflies. A nice find was a Grass Snake that failed in its attempt to catch a Common Toad.
We tried a different taverna in Chryssohorafa this evening - just as good as last night. It took a long time to do the species list tonight.
The morning was spent exploring thickly-vegetated waterways around Lake Kerkini - the drains and ditches surrounded by low-intensity farmland and the narrowing channel where the Struma river enters the lake. Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Wigeon, Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Whiskered Terns, Dalmatian and White Pelican, Lesser Grey Shrike and point-blank views of two Great Reed Warblers in territorial dispute. Green Lizards seemed to be everywhere.
Later we went to Sidirikastro and found an unusual Eastern Rock Nuthatch nest site on the cliffs - two tunnels side-by-side, touching. The adults returned twice taking food into one of the holes. Other birds here included Crag Martin, Black-eared Wheatear and Alpine Swift. Away from the town the road climbs to rounded and rugged wooded hills and flower-rich grassland. A great place for Masked and Woodchat Shrikes, Blue Rock Thrush, Eastern Bonelli’s and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Black-headed Bunting. We photographed a giant centipede and some really huge Spurge Hawk moth caterpillars here.
We tried a specialty of the area in yet another restaurant tonight - buffalo meat sausages! Later there was a big thunderstorm then heavy rain overnight.
Still raining first thing but it eased by 08.00, although remaining damp and misty for a few hours. We drove to Lake Doirani, west of Lake Kerkini on the Macedonia border (the boundary bisects the lake). We tried every track we could find but couldn’t reach the lake shore. The lake level was obviously unusually high as every track and the surrounding woodland and scrub was under water. Plenty of birds seen Little Bittern, Nightingale, Golden Oriole, Penduline Tit, Syrian Woodpecker, Turtle Dove, Lesser and Red-backed Shrikes. The weather brightened a bit and we moved on to a forest of Oriental Plane above the village of Ano Poroia (north of Lake Kerkini) with a stream running through a natural-looking understory (Wedge-lipped Orchid, Common Twayblade, Grey Wagtail). Nearby, along a rough track, we reached a lightly-wooded hillside where we had brief views of an adult and two juvenile Sombre Tits and found some superb specimens of Dragon Arum.
We spent the afternoon around the north west side of Lake Kerkini where there were many butterflies including Eastern Festoon, Queen of Spain Fritillary and Nettle-tree as well as many damselflies. Then it was back to Chryssohorafa for another plate of buffalo meat sausages! A Black-crowned Night Heron flew across the village square.
After a leisurely breakfast, we left Chryssohorafa for the ½ hour drive to the border (a quick glance at our passports and we were waved on). We were heading for Rupite but stopped a few times to check out some Rock Sparrow sites - no luck. Plenty else to see at each location, though , including Short-toed Snake Eagle and Great Reed Warblers singing from the tiniest patches of reed. At Rupite there were several people and families enjoying the hot springs. We didn’t get far - as soon as we arrived we saw a Long-legged Buzzard and soon a Common Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, a Peregrine and 3 Eleanora’s Falcons. Insect life was prolific but it was too windy for good photos although we had some success with a Spoon-tailed Lacewing and a Southern White Admiral butterfly.
It was very hot and we moved on to Melnik, sitting on the hotel balcony for a couple of hours enjoying the view and a pair of Black Redstarts back and forth to their nest in a roof. Hotel St.Nikola was nice, bright and comfortable; we enjoyed the good menu and staff were friendly and helpful. It might not be the best choice for everyone, though - LOTS of very steep steps! Cooler by 3.30pm so off we went again, finding a track through flowery fields by sandy low cliffs. We heard Rock Sparrow but only had a brief glimpse before they flew. Golden Orioles, Nightingales, Olivaceous Warblers and European Bee Eaters were everywhere. A few Calandra Larks were singing over a big open field, a single Alpine Swift zoomed overhead and two Syrian Woodpeckers were very vocal. We spent ages trying to photograph butterflies, including Knapweed Fritillaries.
First stop this morning was in arable land beside vineyards (Melnik is famous for its wine, Winston Churchill used to have cases shipped over to England). The views were splendid - a wide panorama stretching from the mountains bordering Greece, along the Struma river round to the Pirin and Rila mountains. The air was filled with the song of dozens of Calandra and Skylarks - fabulous. Across the road we walked through flowery grassland and a grazed hillside to a shallow gorge with open sandy cliffs - we found Rock Sparrows in good numbers here. A small pool held a couple of Balkan Terrapins. Minko heard an Olive-tree Warbler, then another - it took a while but eventually we had decent views. A Lace Border moth was a nice find. Minko’s plan was to visit a nearby small pool and marsh - sadly a new road is being built and it’s now all under concrete. Moving on from this sorry sight, we found a scrubby track on the outskirts of a town - plenty of insects on the many flowers, including Queen of Spain, Knapweed and Cardinal Fritillaries, Oberthur’s Skipper, Beautiful Demoiselle and Ornate Damselfly. We had lunch back in Melnik and sat on the balcony with some beers before venturing out to Rozhen - having visited before, we gave the monastery a miss and photographed flowers, butterflies - lots of fritillaries including a beautiful pupa - and several caterpillars in the rich meadows. We explored nearby narrow roads, finding many day-flying moths, damsel and dragonflies, lizards, frogs and tadpoles as we made our way higher above the towering Melnik “pyramids” to grazed meadows and forest - we were now in the Pirin mountains. Minko was delighted to see a Stock Dove.
A Nightingale sang outside our room seemingly all night long, occasionally accompanied by a Tawny Owl.
Leaving Melnik with 2 litres of the hotel’s home-made wine, we travelled along the southern Pirin mountains towards the Western Rhodopes. Overnight rain had stopped but there was heavy mist in the valleys and low cloud over the mountains; everywhere was green and lush. We spent several hours walking in mature coniferous forest between Dospat and Batak in the Western Rhodopes, first about a kilometre north of Beglika Reservoir looking for Grey-headed Woodpecker but only heard it call once. Serins and Siskins were common here amongst the trees festooned with beard lichens, and we saw a few Bullfinches and a pair of Black Redstarts on a forestry building roof. Then we moved nearer to Batak and spent the rest of the day walking in the forest, including some large tracts of mature spruce.
Star sighting of the day was the prolonged views of a Pine Marten following scent trails back and forth across the track in front of us and running around in the meadow - it was in view for about 10 minutes and was completely oblivious of us - a sight never to be forgotten! We also had good views of Roe Deer, Ring Ouzel, Nutcracker and two Black Woodpeckers. It was good to hear so many Willow Tits. Flowers were interesting, too, and deserved much more time than we spent on them.
Our hotel, Orphea, was in Teshel about 8 kms. from Devin.
Out very early to scan the rocks for Chamois - success almost immediately! After breakfast it was time to try for the Wallcreeper at Trigrad Gorge. It flew above our heads within minutes and stayed around for half an hour - much closer views than in 2010. Driving on from the gorge we reached meadows bright yellow from thousands of Yellow Rattle flowers. Butterflies held our attention here in the warm sunshine - Woodland Ringlet, Lesser Spotted and Queen of Spain and other Fritillaries - as well as numerous beetles and day-flying moths and a Tree Frog. Walking higher through conifer forest and open glades and meadows, we continued to add plants to our list, including splendid displays of Elder-flowered Orchid, and marsh orchids which seemed to be Heart-shaped Orchid Dactylorhiza cordigera. We found just one specimen of Military Orchid. There were more sightings of Roe Deer and we heard Black Woodpecker calling several times.
Late afternoon we headed back to the hotel, stopping to scan a hillside where Ortolan and Black-headed Buntings were common, along with Red-backed Shrikes and the ever-present Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. On the opposite side of the road were hayfields where people were working with hand tools and transporting produce by horse and cart. Suddenly we heard Corncrake! We then spent an hour trying to find one, but although we were sure they were “right under our feet” we didn’t get even a glimpse. At least four males were calling around the small plots.
A good start to the day - exactly as last time we were here, we watched a Chamois from our bathroom window!! After a dry start it soon began to rain, continuing for much of the morning. It was a travelling-day, though, so it wasn’t too much of a problem. We drove east to the Eastern Rhodopes, mostly following the Arda river, through beautiful scenery, although spoilt in a few places by the modern ski resorts about an hour out of Teshel.
We reached Gorna Kula beside the Krumovitsa river by early afternoon. It was still raining but undaunted we found a Rock Nuthatch nest, nesting Black Storks, a possible Levant Sparrowhawk nest, European Rollers, a Lesser Grey Shrike and four Chukar Partridges (2 calling males and 2 flying birds - so you DON’T have to get out at dawn to see them!) A surprise here was the spectacular, yet weird, Red Cage Stinkhorn fungus. At first it appeared to be a tangle of red polystyrene string! The rain eased a little, the sun almost shone, and we were able to photograph a few Marbled Fritillaries but had no luck with the Marsh Fritillaries here.
After a few more short roadside stops we arrived at Hotel Divna in Krumovgrad; it had only been open for a couple of months and we were the only people staying there. They gave us a large suite with views from the balcony towards woodland with Lesser and Syrian Woodpeckers, Golden Oriole and the usual Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Jackdaws are abundant around the area, flocks of 50+ seemed to be everywhere. As there were no other guests at the hotel, the kitchen wasn’t open and we had a 5 minute walk to the centre of town to the hotel owner’s restaurant - excellent food and well worth the short walk on a pleasantly warm evening. Scops Owls were calling all around as we returned to the hotel.
We spent the whole day in the Krumovgrad area, mostly the meadows, woodland and scrub in the low hills near the BSPB (Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds) vulture-feeding site. Another good day for raptors with a min.9 Griffon and 2 Egyptian Vultures, 2 Golden Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, 2 Eleanora’s Falcons, Peregrine and Hobby, Eastern Orphean, Subalpine and Sardinian Warblers, Cirl and Black-headed Buntings. We had superb views of a Hawfinch perched in a tree. A small group of Fallow Deer moved across a scrubby hillside and we found some Purple Clematis Clematis viticella, a new plant for us. Butterflies today included High Brown Fritillary, Cardinal and Mazarine Blue. We had trouble catching up with the many dragonflies and damselflies today but managed to get some photographs of Ornate Damselfly and Green-eyed Hooktail. And at last we had a good view of Red Squirrel.
Tonight the hotel owners prepared a special, traditional meal for us and brought it to the hotel. It was an enjoyable evening chatting with them until very late.
Today we moved north east to the superb volcanic crater area around Madzharovo, spending the morning below the steep rugged rocks beside the Arda river. Rock and Ortolan Buntings, Black Kite, Griffons, Peregrine, Long-legged Buzzard, Black Stork, Blue Rock Thrush and calling Chukars (although we couldn’t locate them). A Large Tortoiseshell was good to see but it wouldn’t keep still long enough for a decent photograph.
Lunch was at a small restaurant in Madzharovo; we sat outside which was a good move - 2 Golden Eagles flew overhead, followed by Griffons and a Black Stork.
Our plan was to drive to the riverside but on the way Minko spotted a Horned Viper crossing the road and we stopped to find it. No luck, but we did see two Greek Tortoises and a very small Hermann’s Tortoise, close views of an Ortolan Bunting and lots of Balkan Marbled White Butterflies. Back at the car, we had a problem; it wouldn’t start. Amazingly, in this rather remote area, the first car which came along was a friend of Minko’s from Sofia! He couldn’t help us much but went to find someone in Madzharovo - 10 minutes later the guy turned up - yet another friend of Minko!! They got the car going but it was a battery problem and for the rest of the afternoon we didn’t switch off the engine. We had a couple of walks, near a lake where White-tailed Eagle is possible but we had no luck, having to make do with Eastern Olivaceous Warblers, Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Frogs, dozens of Black-tailed Skimmers and an Emperor Dragonfly. We moved on, stopping a few times to view across the river but it began raining at 5.15 pm and we returned to the hotel. Minko contacted the car hire company to arrange a replacement car.
After dinner, a walk in the park and around Krumovgrad town turned up at least 10 Scops Owls, one of which was on a branch just above our heads.
The replacement car was being driven down from Sofia this morning, so we spent time on the balcony watching and listening to the now-familiar Syrian and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Golden Orioles and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. We had a late breakfast and were away by 10.30, so the breakdown didn’t cause us too much trouble. Our route took us back to the Arda river and towering cliffs near Madzharovo and we spent half an hour here trying without much luck to photograph butterflies, particularly the Large Tortoiseshell. Nearby a narrow track leading to a small waterfall produced many butterflies, including a few Little Tiger Blues and an array of damsel and dragonflies. A pool in the gulley below us held several frogs which we couldn’t see well - they were most likely Common Frog.
Hoping for a repeat of yesterday’s raptor watching over lunch, we returned to the same place in Madzharovo - our luck held with superb views of a Goshawk, Peregrine and several Griffons. We could hear young Barn Owls in a run-down building across the road.
Our destination this afternoon was Topolovgrad east of the Rhodope mountains in the Sakar Hills. About 40 minutes from Madzharovo the wide, open plains of Moritza (Evros) river valley suddenly appeared in front of us and we left the lush, green mountains behind us. We could soon see the low, rounded Sakar Hills and before long reached the village of Levka where a very successful Lesser Kestrel reintroduction programme is taking place. The original birds were brought here from Spain; many people were sceptical but the birds migrated and not only did some of them return to Levka, they were accompanied by two wild birds. We saw at least four males hunting over the fields specifically managed for them and cameras in nest boxes allowed us to see them bringing in large grasshoppers to the females - some were incubating, one was brooding small chicks. There was a noisy colony of Spanish Sparrows and a few House Sparrows nesting around the building and we saw a couple of hybrids, too.
It was hard to drag ourselves away from here but time was getting on and we wanted to check out a few places before reaching Topolovgrad. One stop was in farmland beside a river and oxbow lake; highlights here were a female Levant Sparrowhawk, Whiskered Terns and two Rollers as well as Balkan Green Lizard and several dragonflies. A couple of roadside stops were less productive although we had a glimpse of Masked Shrike and saw several Cardinal butterflies.
We reached Hotel Imperial in Topolovgrad by 19.20 to be told they were hosting a gypsy engagement party this evening! Not as bad as we feared, though, as our room was in a separate building well away from the main hall and our dinner was served in the breakfast room. We could hear the music from our room but it wasn’t too loud and stopped entirely just after midnight.
There had been a big storm during the night and this morning was dull with a few short sunny spells and a cool strong breeze. We spent the whole day around grazing land, scrub and farmland not far from Topolovgrad. This is an area for Eastern Imperial Eagle (it’s coincidental that our hotel has this name) and we didn’t have to wait long. We saw three birds in one area, a pair and probably the male from an adjoining territory. One of these spent 40 minutes or more perched on a pylon, occasionally flying but soon returning to the same perch. Other birds here were Isabelline Wheatears, Tawny Pipits, Red-backed Shrike, two Black Storks and a Black Kite but what we really wanted to see was Susliks - it was a long wait but we eventually had good views of three individuals. The small herds of goats roaming here are important for keeping the grass short but not over-grazed and thus ideal for Susliks, the staple prey for the eagles. We moved on a few miles, finding a high point with wide views across a mix of crops and steppe-like habitat. We twice saw what was probably just one Lesser Spotted Eagle and another Eastern Imperial Eagle. Other raptors were Honey Buzzard, 2 Booted Eagles, Egyptian Vultures, a male Montagu’s Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard and Hobby. A Black Stork was circling and three Hawfinches flew by, then Minko found another Olive-tree Warbler. A surprise was a flock of about 43 Whiskered Terns flying high ?eastwards. There were several Swallowtail butterflies around today.
This afternoon Minko tried hard to find us a male Levant Sparrowhawk, no luck. Cloud thickened and we could see rain storms all around. We drove to a large forest (private hunting, mainly for wild boar, with no protection) but it began to rain and all we saw of note was a Honey Buzzard and Eastern Orphean Warbler so we headed back to Topolovgrad for an early dinner. The rain stopped and we went on a night drive along farm tracks just beyond the town. More productive than we’d expected - Brown Hares, a Firefly and a Golden Jackal ran across the track! On the way back to town we called on Minko’s friend Georgi who is a self-appointed caretaker of the local Imperial Eagles; we enjoyed home-made rakia and plum compote!
Packed and away by 08.50 for the drive to Sofia, taking the slower “B” roads most of the way rather than the new highway. We saw a lot of birds along the way, including a Night Heron flying across the road, a few Black Storks and the only Stonechat and Northern Lapwing of the trip! We reached the outskirts of Sofia by 12.40 and headed straight for Vitosha mountain where we had lunch at Aleko Hut (casseroled chicken with vegetable rice or sausage and bean soup, for about £1.30 per person). Very nice. The sky clouded over and it was cool at a little over 1800 metres. Leaving the Black Redstarts, Pallid Swifts and Tree Pipits around Aleko Hut, we walked one of the trails through spruce forest - noting the large number of dying trees (first damaged several years ago by severe storms, then attacked by a bark beetle) and open heath-like areas. Plants here were interesting. We didn’t have time to go far and birds were scarce - just a few Ring Ouzels, Nutcrackers, Firecrests, Goldcrests and Dunnocks but a soaring Lesser Spotted Eagle was a nice “final raptor” for the trip.
We took a slow drive down the old, cobbled road to Sofia and checked into the very comfortable Edi Hotel for our final evening in Bulgaria. Good rooms and a wide choice of excellent food.
Minko picked us up at 09.15 for the half-hour drive to the airport. Our flight departed Sofia at 12.45
BIRDS 155 species
Gadwall Anas strepera
3 at Lake Kerkini.
Wigeon Anas penelope
3 at Lake Kerkini.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Max. 15 around Lake Kerkini; 6 on Beglika Reservoir.
Chukkar Partridge Alectoris chukar
4 near Gorna Kula on 4th; heard near Mazdharovo on 6th.
Corncrake Crex crex
At least 4 calling around small cultivations on 3rd.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficolis
2 pairs at Lake Kerkini.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
100s around Lake Kerkini.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Frequent sightings of singles/2s in Kerkini area; 1 near Lake Doirani; 2 near Gorna Kula on 4th; 2 near Mazdharovo on 6th+7th; 2 near Topolovgrad on 8th.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Widespread, seen each day in varying numbers. Nests in most villages.
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
3 over Lake Kerkini on 28th, min.6 around farmland on 29th
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
Common around Lake Kerkini, many nests with chicks and juveniles.
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Pair + 3 singles on north and northeast Lake Kerkini.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorac nycticorax
Abundant around Lake Kerkini with large number of nests, birds very active throughout the day; also seen over Chryssohorafa village and surrounding drains and ditches. 1 flew over the main Plovdiv-Sofia road on 9th.
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Common at Lake Kerkini and surrounding drains and ditches
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Common in all suitable habitat. Large numbers around Kerkini including many nests.
Purple Heron Area purpurea
7 seen around Lake Kerkini and surrounding marshy areas and drains.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Common in all suitable areas. Breeding at Lake Kerkini.
Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
Frequent sightings of small flocks (up to 20 together) in flight around Kerkini and small numbers amongst the many Dalmatians P.crispus on the lake.
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus
Large breeding colonies at Lake Kerkini, mainly on three artificial rafts on the lake; many seen in the "drowned forest" on north and northeast side of lake. Occasional sightings of 2-6 in flight SW Bulgaria.
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmeus
Common around Lake Kerkini, many nests seen.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Huge numbers around Lake Kerkini, impressive nesting colony; 4 over Teshel on 3rd; 1 on Arda river near Mazdharovo on 6th.
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Singles/2s frequent in Krumovgrad area.
European Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus
1 north of Lake Kerkini on 28th; 1 near Trigrad on 3rd; 1 in Krumovgrad area on 5th; 1 near Topolovgrad 8th.
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
A common sight in the Krumovgrad area, max. together was 17.
Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus
1 above Sidirokastro 29th; 1 near Lake Kerkini 30th; 2 at Rupite and 4 together near Melnik 31st; 2 Melnik-Rhozen 1st; 1 in Dospat-Batak area 2nd; 1 by hotel in Teshel on 3rd; at least 2 near Krumovgrad on three days.
Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina
1 north of Lake Kerkini on 28th; 2 sightings (?same bird) near Topolovgrad on 8th; 1 Vitosha mountain on 9th.
Booted Eagle Hieraetus pennatus
2 pale phase near Topolovgrad on 8th.
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca
3 near Topolovgrad (probably pair + second male) and another 2 at a further site on 8th.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
2 near vulture feeding site near Krumovgrad on 5th; 2 over Mazdharovo on 6th.
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes
Female near Topolovgrad on 7th.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
1 near Chryssohorafa on 30th; 1 near Melnik on 1st;
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
1 over Mazdharovo on 7th.
Western Marsh Harrier Circus cyaneus
2 single females around Lake Kerkini.
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
1 male near Topolovgrad on 8th.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
1 at Mazdharovo on 6th; 1 near Topolovgrad 8th; 2 singles over main road Haskovo to Sofia on 9th.
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
1 at Illindenci on 27th; 2 at Rupite on 31st; 1 by Arda bridge near Krumovgrad on 5th; singles around Mazdharovo on 6th+7th; 1 between Mazdharovo and Topolovgrad on 7th; 1 near Topolovgrad on 8th.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Common everywhere, several sightings most days.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
15+ on Lake Kerkini (+2 chicks), occasional sightings around Kerkini on surrounding drains and ditches
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Large numbers on Lake Kerkini/surrounding drains and ditches; 1 on tiny pool near Topolovgrad 9th.
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
1 on rice fields west of Plovdiv on 9th.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
2 on island in river east of Lake Kerkini on 28th
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus genei
Fairly common in Northern Greece
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
25-30 on islands in river east of Lake Kerkini, small numbers elsewhere in Northern Greece; 12+ nesting in Krumovitsa river and occasional sightings of singles/2s around Krumovgrad and Topolovgrad.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
1 with Yellow-legged L.michahellis on island in river east of Lake Kerkini on 29th
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Small numbers around Lake Kerkini with 9 nests on a raft at Lake Kerkini; 2 near Topolovgrad on 7th.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
20 on Lake Kerkini on 29th; flock of c.43 moving (?east) high over open cultivated area near Topolovgrad 8th.
Stock Dove Columba oenas
1 near Melnik on 1st.
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
Uncommon. 1 in woodland between Dospat and Batak on 2nd; occasional sightings of 1-3 Krumovgrad-Topolovgrad
European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Common in all lightly wooded areas and villages.
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Common around villages and towns.
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Common, frequent sightings and constantly heard in all suitable areas.
Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops
1 heard by Krumovitsa river, Gorna Kula on 4th; many around Krumovgrad with min.10 heard (1 seen well) on evening walk; 1 heard near Topolovgrad.
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Heard through the night by hotel in Melnik but not seen.
Little Owl Athene noctua
Common. Often seen on rooftops and barns.
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Chicks heard from building in Madzharovo town but not seen.
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
Small numbers (1-6) seen on six days.
Common Swift Apus apus
Fairly common, small flocks seen most days.
Pallid Swift Apus apllidus
Uncommon. 4-5 near Beglika reservoir on 2nd; 5+ around Aleko Hut, Vitosha on 9th.
European Roller Coracias garrulus
2 by Krumovitsa river near Gorna Kula on 4th; 2 near Topolovgrad on 7th.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
2 singles in drains on 29th, 1 at Lake Kerkini on 30th
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
Common throughout, seen and heard most days.
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Common and widespread, seen most days.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
1 by hotel in Krumovgrad; occasionally heard elsewhere in Bulgaria.
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus
Common in suitable habitat, seen most days.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Not seen in Greece but fairly common in Bulgaria.
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
Pair in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd; two calling in forest beyond Trigrad on 3rd.
European Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Fairly common, often seen or heard. Adult with juv by Lake Kerkini on 30th.
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
At least 4 males hunting close to the successful reintroduction site at the village of Levka (Sakar Hills). Camera views of females in nest boxes, some on eggs and others with young chicks.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Common, usually singles but 7 together at Illindenci on 27th.
Eleanora's Falcon Falco eleanorae
2 north of Chryssohorafa (Lake Kerkini) on 28th; 3 at Rupite on 31st; 2 near Krumovgrad 5th.
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
3 singles: Krumovgrad, Mazdharovo and Topolovgrad.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
1 above Sidirokastro on 29th; 1 at Rupite on 31st; 1 near Krumovgrad on 5th; pair near Mazdharovo.
Red-backed Shrike Lanius cullurio
Common and widespread in all suitable areas.
Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor
2 near Lake Kerkini on 29th; 1 by Lake Doirani on 30th; 2 singles near Gorna Kula on 4th; 1 between Mazdharovo and Krumovgrad on 6th.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
Common in all suitable areas.
Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus
5 above Sidirokastro on 29th; 1 female near Topolovgrad on 7th.
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Common. Heard every day, occasionally seen.
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Fairly common and widespread.
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Common, particularly around villages and farmland.
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
2 in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd; 2 singles seen along Vitosha trail.
Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Common in Greece. Less noticeable in Bulgaria apart from Krumovgrad where very large flocks (100s) are a common sight and sound.
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Common and widespread.
Northern Raven Corvus corax
None seen in Greece. Fairly common in Bulgaria, singles/pairs.
Coal Tit Periparus ater
Common in conifer forests.
Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris
1 ad and 2 juvs near Ano Poroia, Greece, on 30th
Willow Tit Poecile ontanus
Often heard, but only brief views, in conifer forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd; 2 seen well in forest beyond Trigrad on 3rd.
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
Uncommon, only 2 seen near Mazdharovo.
Great Tit Parus major
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
1 seen, others heard by Lake Kerkini on 28th; 2 seen at Lake Doirani on 30th
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
Widespread in suitable habitat, particularly numerous near Melnik and Topolovgrad..
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Fairly common but not in high numbers.
Wood Lark Lullula arborea
Heard occasionally in areas beyond Trigrad on 3rd; frequently seen and heard around Topolovgrad.
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis
Occasionally heard and seen but not in high numbers.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Common only around Lake Kerkini,
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Common in all suitable areas.
House Martin Delichon urbicum
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Common. Seen every day, usually 2s-4s but 8 together near Melnik on 1st.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Frequently heard around Lake Kerkini, drains and ditches.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
c.8 in mixed-species flock near Mazdharovo on 6th.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Fairly common in all wooded areas.
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis
2 seen, several more heard, above Sidirokastro on 29th; heard beyond Ano Poroia on 30th.
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Common, seen and heard in even the smallest patches of reed.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Iduna pallida
Very common throughout.
Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum
1 seen and 2 more singing near Melnik on 1st; heard and briefly seen Topolovgrad area on 8th.
Eurasian Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Common in Bulgaria, none noted in Greece.
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
1 heard near Trigrad on 3rd, not seen.
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris
Singing male seen briefly near Gorna Kula on 4th; 1 seen, others heard, Krumovgrad on 5th; 1 near Topolovgrad on 8th.
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Common, seen and heard every day.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
1 male seen, others heard, Krumovgrad on 5th; 2 males seen near Mazdharovo on 6th.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
1 male seen, several more heard, Krumovgrad on 5th.
Common Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
Heard often in forest beyond Trigrad on 3rd; displaying male seen, others heard, Vitosha on 9th.
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
1 seen, many others heard in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd; 1 seen beyond Trigrad on 3rd.
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Occasionally heard in forests; 1 seen on 9th.
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
1 on roadside fence post near Krumovgrad on 6th.
Western Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer
Ad. feeding young in nest at Sidirokastro; nests at Gorna Kula and Mazdharovo; 1 seen near Mazdharovo 6th.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
1 at Trigrad gorge showed very well for several minutes.
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus
1 female Dospat-Batak on 2nd; 1 female seen, others heard, in forest beyond Trigrad on 3rd; 2 at Vitosha 9th.
Common Blackbird Turdus merula
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Occasional sightings, often heard in suitable habitat although none noted in Greece, Krumovgrad and Mazdharovo.
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Occasionally heard and seen in forest areas.
European Robin Erithacus rubecula
Occasionally heard and seen in forested areas.
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Common throughout, seen and heard every day.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
None seen in Greece; common in Bulgaria.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
2 single males at Illindenci on 27th; common around Sidirokastro; 4 around Mazdharovo.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Pair in open farmland near Teshel on 3rd.
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
1 seen from car on route to Sofia on 9th.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
4 near Topolovgrad on 8th; 1 seen from car on route to Sofia on 9th.
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
Very common around Topolovgrad.
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
Common in suitable habitat.
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
1 beside Hotel in Teshel on 3rd.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Frequent sightings of colonies around villages, often in White Stork Ciconia ciconia nests, although not noted in Krumovgrad-Mazdharovo area. Also often with House Sparrow Passer domesticus.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Fairly common in villages around Lake Kerkini; 3 at roadside stop on route to Topolovgrad on 7th.
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia
Seen in two separate areas near Melnik - 2 on 31st and 8-10 on 1st.
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Common around Vitosha.
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Occasional sightings in suitable habitat. Mostly feldegg.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Frequent sightings in suitable habitat.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
None noted in Greece. Frequent in Bulgaria, seen most days.
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Min.5 seen around Topolovgrad on 8th.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Heard, not seen, beyond Trigrad on 3rd; fairly common at Vitosha.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
1 perched bird seen well near Krumovgrad on 5th; 3 in flight near Topolovgrad on 8th.
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Pair in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd; pair in forest beyond Trigrad on 3rd pair by Aleko Hut, Vitosha on 9th.
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris
Rather uncommon, seen on only four days.
Common Linnet Linaria cannabina
8 near Chryssohorafa on 28th; 2 near Topolovgrad on 8th.
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Fairly common, seen most days.
European Serin Serinus serinus
Small numbers in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd.
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus
6 in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
Common in all suitable habitat.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
1 singing male seen, others heard, near Mazdharovo on 6th.
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana
2 seen, others heard, near Teshel on 3rd; 1 near Mazdharovo on 6th.
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Fairly common, seen and heard on most days.
Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala
Common in suitable habitat, seen most days.
MAMMALS 10 species
White-breasted Hedgehog Erinaceus roumanicus
One live animal, apparently disturbed by man working in garden at Dolna Kula village, but road casualties all too common.
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris
2 seen in Krumovgrad area.
Brown Hare Lepus europaeus
Fairly common in suitable habitat.
Wild Cat Felis sylvestris
1 seen well northern Lake Kerkini, carrying large snake.
Pine Marten Martes martes
1 watched for c.10 minutes in forest between Dospat and Batak on 2nd.
Golden Jackal Canis auerus
1 crossed track at night near Topolovgrad village.
Suslik Spermophilus citellus
Common in Sakar Hills area
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
A few sightings in forest between Dospat and Batak and near Trigrad on 3rd.
Fallow Deer Dama dama
Several in the hills around Krumovgrad
Balkan Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica
1 seen from bathroom window at Hotel Orphea, Teshel and another on nearby rockface.
BUTTERFLIES 52(53) species
Hungarian (Orbed) Skipper Spialia orbifer Mazarine Blue Cyaniris semiargus
Persian Skipper Spialia phlomidis Common Blue Polyommatus icarus
Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae Nettle-tree Butterfly Libythea celtis
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta
Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineolus Comma Polygonia c-album
Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus Painted Lady Vanesse cardui
Swallowtail Papilio machaon Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Eastern Festoon Zerynthia cerisyi Peacock Inachis io
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
Black-veined White Aporia crataegi Large Tortoiseshell Nymphalis polychioros
Large White Pieris brassicae Cardinal Argynnis pandora
Green-veined White Pieris napi Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia
Small White Pieris rapae Queen of Spain Fritillary Issoria lathonia
Eastern Bath White Pontia edusa Glanville Fritillary Melitaea cinxia
Sloe Hairstreak Satyrium acaciae Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe
Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis Lesser Spotted Fritillary Melitaea trivia
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma
Balkan Copper Lycaena candens Marbled Fritillary Brenthis daphne
Sooty Copper Lycaena tityrus Heath Fritillary Mellicta athalia
Little Tiger Blue Tarucus balkanicus Balkan Marbled White Melanargia larissa
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus Woodland Ringlet Erebia medusa
Brown Argus Aricia agestis Lattice Brown Kirinia roxelana
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus Great Banded Grayling Brintesia circe
Little Blue Cupido minimus Balkan Grayling Hipparchia senthes
[ Poss.Green-underside Blue Glaucopsyche alexis ] Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina
Large Blue Maculina arion Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Silver-studded Blue Plebejus argus
MOTHS 13 species
Transparent Burnet Zygaena purpuralis Brown Silver-line Petrophora chlorosata
Forester Adscuta statuces Speckled Yellow Pseudopantherea maculatia
Nine-spotted Amata phegea Mother Shipton Callistege mi
Burnet Companion Euclidia glyphica The Amah Dysauxes famula
Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth Hemaris tityus Cream-spot Tiger Arcia villica
Spurge Hawk Moth (caterpillar) Hyles euphorbiae Lace BorderScopula ornata
Hummingbird Hawk Moth Macroglossum stellatarum
DRAGONFLIES 17 species
Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens Balkan Goldenring Cordulegaster heros
Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteryx virgo Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa
Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum
Ornate Bluet Coenagrion ornatum White-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum albistylum
Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula f. fulvipes Southern Skimmer Orthetrum brunneum
White-legged Damselfly Platycnemis pennipes Broad Scarlet Crocothemis erythraea
Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii
Green-eyed (Norfolk) Hawker Aeshna isocoles Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum
Green-eyed Hooktail (Small Pincertail) Onychogomphus forcipatus
Bronze Bush-cricket Bradyporus dasypus
Centipede Scolopendra sp.
Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptum
Roesel’s Bush-cricket Metrioptera roeseli
Dung beetle sp.
Long-horn Beetle Morimus funereus
Pontic Wolf Spider Geolycosa vultuosa
Spoon-tailed Lacewing (or Threadwing) Nemoptera sinuata
REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata
[ Common ] Frog Rana [ temporaria ]
Marsh Frog Pelophylax ridibundus
Green Toad Pseudepidalea (Bufo) viridis
Common Tree Frog Hyla arborea
European Terrapin Emys orbicularis
Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys caspica
Hermann's Tortoise Testudo hermanni
Greek (Spur-thighed) Tortoise Testudo graeca
Green Lizard Lacerta viridis
Balkan (3-lined) Green Lizard Lacerta trilineata
Balkan Wall Lizard Podarcis taurica
[ Probably Erhard's Wall Lizard Podarcis erhardii ]
Caspian Whip Snake Dolichophis (Coluber) caspius
Grass Snake Natrix natrix
Common (Smooth) newt Triton (Triturus) vulgaris
Slow Worm Anguis fragilis
Kotschy's Gecko Mediodactylus kotschyi
FLOWERING PLANTS a few of the many flowers noted
Wedge-lipped Orchid Dactylorhiza saccifera Southern Larkspur Delphinium fissum
Elder-flowered Orchid Dactylorhiza sambucina Snowbell Soldanella sp.
Heart-shaped Orchid Dactylorhiza cordigera Crocus sp.
Common Twayblade Listera ovata Grecian Foxglove Digitalis lanata
Toothed Orchid Orchis tridentata Tassel Hyacinth Muscari commosum
Military Orchid Orchis militaris Grape Hyacinth Muscari neglectum
Marsh or Bog Orchid Orchis elegans Haberlea Haberlea rhodopensis
Purple Clematis Clematis viticella Dragon Arum Dracunculus vulgaris
Large Venus’s Looking-glass Legousia speculum-veneris
Red Cage Stinkhorn Clathrus ruber Puffball spp. At least two species
Earth Star spp. at least two species Morel sp.
Shaggy Ink Cap Coprinus comatus