"Birds in Greater Bulgaria, May 2nd-12th, 2011", Glenn Morris. Go to Glenn's Home Page


This is a list of birds I saw in south-western Bulgaria and northern Greece, with the help of Dobri and Mario who organised the tour for Spatia Wildlife of Sofia

It is preceded by a list of the main birdwatching sites. Click on the highlighted species to see photos taken with a lightweight Panasonic DMC-FZ18 camera with up to 23x optical zoom (mostly identification quality only).

  • North Sofia Hills, NSH = The hills between Dragoman and Svoge, north of Sofia

    Vitosha = a high pine-forested mountain south of Sofia

    Prolesha = open steppe-like farmland 10 km west of Sofia

    Dragoman = a large wetland area west of Sofia, with extensive reedbeds and grasslands.

    Aldomirovo = a smaller wetland between Dragoman and Sofia, with easier access to open water.

    Kresna = a deep gorge on the way to the Greek border at Kulata, includes riverine woodland.

    Ilindentsi = a fabulous upland area south of the Kresna gorge, accessible by a good road to a quarry.

    Rupite = an extinct volcano with hot springs, across the Struma river near Kulata

    Struma = the Struma river valley, north of Rupite

    Chuchuligovo = sandy hills a few km from Kulata

    Melnik = the sand pyramids surrounding this historic town

    Rila = extensive mixed woodlands around the world-famous monastery at Rila

    Kerkini = a vast lake surrounded by high forested mountains

    Mandraki = a road leads north from Mandraki on Kerkini lake to a restaurant and small church surrounded by plane trees. (This name is not used for the Kerkini lake viewing area south of Mandraki).

    Sidirokastro = a minor road east of Sidirokastro in northern Greece leads to limestone mountains with typical Mediterannean vegetation.


    1. Mute Swan (2 at Kerkini)

    2. Mallard(small numbers at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    3. Shoveler (single at Dragoman)

    4. Garganey (4 at Aldomirovo)

    5. Ferruginous Duck(seen often in small groups at Aldomirovo and Dragoman)

    6. Quail (heard frequently on farmland at Prolesha)

    7. Corncrake (2 males calling from grassland at Dragoman)

    8. Little Grebe (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    9. Great Crested Grebe (vast numbers at Kerkini, small numbers at Aldomirovo and Dragoman)

    10. White Pelican (1000+ at Kerkini)

    11. Dalmatian Pelican (100s at Kerkini)

    12. Cormorant (vast numbers at Kerkini and along the Struma valley)

    13. Pygmy Cormorant (large numbers at Kerkini)

    14. Bittern (heard several at Aldomirovo and Dragoman, 1 seen in flight at Dragoman)

    15. Little Bittern (common at Aldomirovo and Dragoman, singles at Kerkini bridge and on Struma river)

    16. Black-crowned Night-Heron (groups of 10-20 at Kerkini)

    17. Squacco Heron (present at Aldomirovo and Dragoman, groups of 10+ at Kerkini, 1 at Struma)

    18. Little Egret (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    19. Great White Egret (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    20. Grey Heron (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    21. Purple Heron (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    22. White Stork (commonly nesting in Bulgarian villages and Kerkini, 8 birds migrating at Mandraki )

    23. Black Stork (seen at NSH, Mandraki and 3 times in the Struma valley)

    24. Glossy Ibis (5 at Aldomirovo, 10 at Kerkini dam)

    25. Spoonbill (group of 6 at Kerkini, flight of 9 at Struma)

    26. Lesser Spotted Eagle (1 on the ground at Dragoman, seen twice in flight at Kerkini)

    27. Short-toed Eagle (two at Sidirokastro)

    28. Booted Eagle (Kerkini only, one light- and one dark-phase)

    29. Black Kite (singles at Kerkini and Struma)

    30. Marsh Harrier (commonly seen at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    31. Montagu's Harrier (ringtails seen at Aldomirovo and Kerkini, male at Dragoman)

    32. Pallid Harrier (likely migrating male over Mandraki mountainside)

    33. Long-legged Buzzard (1 in North Sofia Hills)

    34. Honey Buzzard (1 at Kerkini)

    35. Common Buzzard (frequently seen throughout)

    36. Sparrowhawk (1 near Dragoman)

    37. Levant Sparrowhawk (displaying pair at Mandraki)

    38. Kestrel (fairly common in the hills)

    39. Red-footed Falcon (singles at Aldomirovo, NSH and twice at Siderokastro)

    40. Hobby (1 at Aldomirovo)

    41. Peregrine (1 on the cliffs at Rupite )

    42. Lanner (possible juvenile at Mandraki)

    43. Water Rail (1 seen and heard at Aldomirovo)

    44. Moorhen (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    45. Coot (common at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    46. Blackwinged Stilt (10 at Aldomirovo)

    47. Little Ringed Plover (2 pairs on the Struma river)

    48. Lapwing (singles at Aldomirovo and Dragoman)

    49. Little Stint (1 at Dragoman)

    50. Wood Sandpiper (12 at Aldomirovo, 4 at Dragoman)

    51. Common Sandpiper (single at Struma river and two at Kerkini)

    52. Ruff (two at Aldomirovo)

    53. Blackheaded Gull (single at Aldomirovo, 40+ at Kerkini)

    54. Yellow-legged Gull (2 at Kerkini, 2 singles near Sofia)

    55. Little Gull (3 adults at Kerkini)

    56. Common Tern (50+ at Kerkini)

    57. Black Tern (2 at Aldomirovo and 2 at Dragoman)

    58. Feral Pigeon (common and widespread)

    59. Wood Pigeon (2 only at Aldomirovo)                        

    60. Collared Dove(common and widespread)

    61. Turtle Dove (common and widespread)

    62. Cuckoo (common and widespread )

    61. Little Owl (1 at NSH, 1 at Kerkini)

    61. Scop's Owl (heard at Kerkini and Melnik)

    62. Swift (common)

    63. Pallid Swift (common around Sofia)

    64. Alpine Swift (several at Melnik)

    65. Hoopoe (singles at NSH, Kerkini. Mandraki and Ilindentsi)

    66. Kingfisher (single at Kerkini bridge)

    67. Bee-eater (common in flocks of 5-10 at Kerkini, Topolnitsa, 25 at Mandraki)

    68. Roller (single at Siderokastro)

    69. Green Woodpecker (singles at Kerkini bridge)

    70. Syrian Woodpecker (single at Melnik)

    71. Skylark (common in grasslands and fields)

    72. Crested Lark (common roadside and trackside bird throughout)

    73. Woodlark (pair at Ilindentsi)

    74. Short-toed Lark (singing male at Ilindentsi)

    75. Calandra Lark (singing males at Prolesha, Ilindentsi and Melnik)

    76. Sand Martin (abundant with 500+ at Aldomirovo and Kerkini)

    77. Crag Martin (seen at Ilindentsi and Rila)

    78. Barn Swallow (common throughout, abundant at Kerkini)

    79. Redrumped Swallow (common throughout, especially at Kresna and Kerkini)

    80. House Martin (very common throughout, 150+ at Rupite)

    81. Tawny Pipit (seen twice at Ilindentsi)

    82. Water Pipit (10-20 at Vitosha)

    82. Meadow Pipit (single at Dragoman)

    83. White Wagtail (common throughout)

    84. Yellow Wagtail (resident and migrant in both feldegg and flava forms at Aldomirovo, Dragoman and Kerkini)

    85. Grey Wagtail (on rivers at Kresna and Rila)

    86. Dipper (nesting pair on river in Rila valley)

    87. Dunnock (Vitosha spruce forest only)

    88. Robin (singles at Vitosha, Melnik and Rila)

    89. Nightingale (very common throughout, it's song is everywhere)

    90. Black Redstart (singles at Vitosha, Ilindentsi and Rila)

    91. Wheatear (single in North Sofia Hills)

    92. Black-eared Wheatear (female at Kerkini bridge, males at Rupite and Siderokastro)

    93. Whinchat (common migrant at Aldomirovo and Dragoman, seen at Rila)

    94. Stonechat (single at Aldomirovo)

    95. Song Thrush (singing males at Rila)

    96. Mistle Thrush (singles singing in NSH)

    97. Blackbird (common, abundant at Siderokastro)

    98. Ring Ouzel (common is spruce forests at Vitosha)

    99. Blue Rock Thrush (pair at Ilindentsi, single at Siderokastro)

    100. Rock Thrush (singles at Melnik and Ilindentsi)

    101. Barred Warbler (seen and heard at Topolnitsa junction)

    102. Blackcap (common throughout)

    103. Whitethroat (common throughout)

    104. Eastern Orphean Warbler (male responded to tape at Kresna, but barely glimpsed)

    105. Sardinian Warbler (pair at Siderokastro only)

    106. Subalpine Warbler (male seen at Siderokastro only)

    107. Sedge Warbler (song and display at Dragoman, seen at Aldomirovo, heard at Chuchuligovo)

    108. Moustached Warbler (seen in reeds at Aldomirovo)

    109. Savi's Warbler (seen singing at Drogoman and heard briefly at Kerkini)

    110. Cetti's Warbler (common near water throughout, especially at Kerkini)

    111. Reed Warbler (fairly common in reeds at Dragoman and Aldomirovo)

    112. Marsh Warbler (seen and heard at Dragoman and Aldomirovo, in small trees not far from water)

    113. Great Reed Warbler (abundant in reeds at Dragoman, Aldomirovo, Struma and Kerkini)

    114. Oliveaceous Warbler (seen and heard at Kerkini and Rupite)

    115. Chiffchaff (heard at Siderokastro amd Melnik)

    116. Goldcrest (heard at Vitosha and Rila)

    117. Wren (singles at Vitosha and Melnik)

    118. Spotted Flycatcher (singles at Dragoman and Struma)

    119. Pied Flycatcher (singles at Aldomirovo and Struma)

    120. Great Tit (common throughout)

    121. Coal Tit (heard at Vitosha and Rila)

    122. Blue Tit (heard at Rila only)

    123. Willow Tit (single seen and heard at Rila only)

    124. Sombre Tit (adults and juveniles seen near Dragoman only)

    125. Longtailed Tit (small flocks at Melnik and Rila)

    126. Penduline Tit (pairs seen and heard at Kerkini bridge and Struma [nest seen])

    127. Rock Nuthatch (single at Ilindentsi)

    128. Lesser Grey Shrike (singles at Kerkini, Mandraki and Aldomirovo)

    129. Redbacked Shrike (single at Dragoman airfield only, migration delayed?)

    130. Woodchat Shrike (seen frequently throughout)

    131. Magpie (common in small numbers)

    132. Jay (common in woodland throughout)

    133. Nutcracker (common at Vitosha only)

    134. Jackdaw (seen in Kerkini village only)

    135. Hooded Crow (common throughout)

    136. Raven (seen frequently in upland areas, max 3 at NSH)

    137. Starling (common throughout)

    138. Golden Oriole (common at Kerkini, Melnik, etc esp in poplar stands)

    139. House Sparrow (common in towns and villages)

    140. Spanish Sparrow (common around reedbeds, rivers and stork's nests)

    141. Tree Sparrow (common throughout)

    142. Rock Sparrow (singles at Chuchuligovo and Ilindentsi only)

    143. Chaffinch (common thoughout)

    144. Linnet (small numbers at Aldomirovo and Struma)

    145. Goldfinch (common throughout)

    146. Greenfinch (frequent throughout)

    147. Bullfinch (male at Rila valley)

    148. Hawfinch (seen at Kerkini, Rupite, Kresna (nest with young) and Dragoman)

    149. Ortolan Bunting (singles seen at Aldomirovo and Topolnitsa junction)

    150. Yellowhammer (singing male NSH only)

    151. Cirl Bunting(very common throughout)

    152. Blackheaded Bunting (single seen at Chuchuligovo only)

    153. Corn Bunting(very common throughout)

    154. Rock Bunting(pairs at Melnik and Ilindentsi)