During the mid-part of January 2018 I made a visit to the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria and Romania. I must thank Chris from Wise Birding and Dimiter, his local representative in Bulgaria, for the arrangements, for the friendship and for helping to make this trip happen for me. It came at a most awkward time, as my brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on the 5th January 2018, so the trip was marred by his sudden passing. Nevertheless, trying to put this happening behind me for a few days, I thoroughly enjoyed the birding experience and came away with several new Western Palearctic ticks and a good selection of photographs.
The highlight of the trip had to be the 4,000 or so Red-breasted Geese flock that we found in southern Romania. Due to mild conditions, the bulk of the European flock of Red-breasted Geese were still in western Russia and had not moved into their traditional wintering grounds of Bulgaria and Romania. Other highlights were 2 Pallas’s Gull, thousands of Pygmy Cormorant, a flock of 260+ Great White Egret, 8 x day roosting Night Heron, small numbers of Great White Pelican and 50+ Dalmation Pelican, 42 White-headed Duck, Glossy Ibis ( a rarity in winter), 100’s of Black-necked Grebe, 9 species of raptor including Black Kite, White-tailed Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard, large numbers of Whooper and Tundra Swan, 12,000+ Russian White-fronted Goose, an array of wildfowl, superb views of Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull, a flock of 100+ Hawfinch, several thousand Brambling, large flocks of Corn Bunting and a single male Middle-spotted Woodpecker.
Many thanks Dimiter – hoping to see you again in the not so distant future..
Dalmation Pelican – above 4 images – adult in breeding plumage – Burgas, Bularia – Tony Davison©
Great White Pelican – Burgas, Bulgaria – Tony Davison©
Mixed Pelican flock with a few Great White Egret – Burgas, Bulgaria – Tony Davison©
Pygmy Cormorant – Burgas, Bulgaria – above 5 images – Tony Davison© – One of 4 new birds for me during the trip.
Black-necked Grebe – above 4 images – This bird was very obliging at Burgas Lakes, Bulgaria – 100’s seen during the trip – Tony Davison©
Red-breasted Goose – We finally found a large flock of around 4,000 birds, in with 12,000 White-fronted Geese in Romania. Above 5 images – Tony Davison© Hunters made the photography very difficult, as they were shooting at the White-fronts and so it was very difficult trying to approach the geese flocks to a decent range.
Whooper Swan – Romania – Tony Davison© – we saw many large herds of wild swans during the trip.
Crested Lark – above 4 images – We found 2 very obliging birds on the edge of a snow covered field – Tony Davison©
Pallas’s Gull – One of the target birds that proved to be very difficult. We found 2 birds on a large reservoir near Burgas, Bulgaria, but they were never close enough to get a decent picture. Despite a great deal of effort trying to find further birds in Romania, the 2 adults in Bulgaria were the only ones we had. Tony Davison©
Black Kite – this moulting juvenile flew over as we were photographing the Crested Larks – Tony Davison©
Hen Harrier – probably a moulting juvenile female, due to the dark eye and contrasting dark secondaries – Tony Davison©
Long-legged Buzzard – a speciality of eastern Europe – a typical light morph – Tony Davison©
Jackdaw – a familiar bird, but many show a contrasting white collar, a feature that our Jackdaws only rarely seem to show.
Caspian Gull – above 2 images – adult – Tulcea, Romania – Tony Davison©
Yellow-legged Gull – above 2 images – adult – Varna, Bulgaria – Tony Davison©
Yellow-legged Gull – above 4 images – 2nd winter – Tulcea, Romania – Tony Davison – note the pale eye and grey mantle
Yellow-legged Gull – 3rd winter – Varna, Bulgaria – Tony Davison©
Yellow-legged Gull – above 2 images – 2nd winter – Varna, Bulgaria – Tony Davison© – note pale eye and short legs, relatively short bill and rounded head.
Yellow-legged Gull – 1st winter – Varna, Bulgaria – Tony Davison© – Fairly certain this is nothing more than a first winter Yellow-legged Gull
Would welcome any thoughts on this individual – I’m thinking it may be a 2nd winter Caspian Gull – bill seems very long, flat headed, dark eyed.