Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Destinations: Eastern Rhodopes - Bulgaria

The Eastern Rhodopes are arguably Bulgaria's best mountain range for raptors. Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Honey and Long-legged Buzzards, Black Kite, Levant Sparrowhawk and Egyptian and Griffon Vultures breed. A few Eurasian Black Vultures (aka Cinereous Vulture) also visit from time to time. This is mostly barren, often craggy, goat-grazed terrain, dotted with dry woodlands and has a typically Balkan-Mediterranean avifauna. Other birds in spring and summer are Black Stork, Scops Owl, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue Rock Thrush, Isabelline and Black-eared Wheatears, Rock Nuthatch, Woodchat Shrike, Sombre Tit, Spanish Sparrow, Eastern Orphean and Subalpine Warblers and Rock and Cirl Buntings. In autumn more raptors, like Osprey, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon and Montagu's Harrier, move through the Arda valley. Some of the best areas to search lie along the River Arda, particularly by the reservoir and dam at Studen Kladenetz and around the village of Madzharovo. These mountains lie in the south-east of Bulgaria, up against the Greek border, east of Kardzali and south of Haskovo.

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