Bulgaria is blessed with a variety of wildlife habitats—both natural and man made—which offer an impressive combination of upland, lowland and coastal birds. Bulgaria also features several regular species that are rare elsewhere in Europe, like Paddyfield Warbler, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears and Semi-collared Flycatcher. Vulnerable or threatened birds such as Dalmatian Pelican, Ferruginous Duck, Eastern Imperial Eagle and European Roller all have key populations in Bulgaria.
The coastal wetlands of the Black Sea are perhaps most popular with visiting birders. Colonies of Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Collared Pratincole and a variety of herons and egrets breed here, as well as in the Danube valley. These same wetlands are important for passage birds too, with Great White Pelican and various raptors being particularly numerous in autumn. They also provide refuge for three more globally-threatened-species: White-headed Duck, some Lesser White-fronted Geese and tens of thousands of Red-breasted Geese.
Birders are apt to find a raptor bonanza in Bulgaria. Long-legged Buzzard, Levant Sparrowhawk, Short-toed, Booted, Lesser Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagles and Eurasian Griffon and Egyptian Vultures all breed here. On autumn passage, tens of thousands of Lesser Spotted Eagles pass through the country. As well, it is not unusual for many thousands of White Storks and Great White Pelicans to pass along the coast in August. In winter, the highest mountains have an Alpine-like avifauna—examples are Rock Partridge, Wallcreeper, Alpine Chough, Alpine Swift, Eurasian Crag Martin and Eurasian Nutcracker.
Ten species of European woodpeckers occur in Bulgaria. For birders from northern Europe there are also some interesting subspecies, such as the Balkan races of Alpine Accentor and Shore Lark, lilfordi White-backed Woodpecker and alpinus Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker. Contributor: Gerard Gorman/PROBIRDER: www.probirder.com
Branta Birding Lodge and Conservation Centre overlooks Durankulak Lake and the Black Sea
Tourist Complex Strandja located between the Burgas Wetlands and Sakar Mountains is an ideal stopover for traveling birders and nature lovers alike.
Pelican Birding Lodge is located in the village of Vetren, close to the town of Silistra, Bulgaria. Vetren is situated two kilometers from the River Danube, and close to the internationally important nature reserve at Lake Srebarna, a UNESCO heritage site.
May-June is the best time to visit to see an influx of migrating and breeding species. Higher elevations are best visited between July and August for later breeding species.
In autumn wetlands see large numbers of storks, pelicans and raptors along the Via Pontica, one of Europes main migration flyways, on the coast of the Black Sea with October being noted as the best time to observe rarities and vagrant species.
High numbers of wintering waterfowl are seen in January with the Rhodope Mountains hosting overwintering Vultures.