Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Southern Bulgaria

Leaving Slovenia I was slightly apprehensive about crossing Serbia, not sure why, but I decided to cross the country in one go then into Bulgaria.
In the end my worries were unfounded, crossing the border from Croatia the roads after the border were rather bumpy and I thought this was a sign of things to come but the roads improved and the scenery for the first couple of hundred miles was much like Croatia with flat farmland as far as the eye could see. After Nis the scenery started to change and the countryside was much more undulating with green hillsides, colourful villages and a deep, long gorge as the Bulgarian border approached. It would be an interesting area to explore at another time.
I stayed overnight just outside Sofia, just by the crossroads where the road to Kulata and the Greek border starts. I followed the dual carriageway until it ended just short of the Kresna Gorge although it looks like the road will bypass the gorge in the future but for now it's shared with hundreds off lorries travelling in both directions. As I left Sofia I was concerned that I might not be able to find fuel but I have never seen so many petrol stations, they seemed to be every few kilometres presumably feeding the constant flow of lorries.
Kresna Gorge
The gorge is beautiful and I was soon seeing large numbers of butterflies, Scarce Swallowtail was one of the most conspicuous but there were blues, coppers and whites, which will have to be identified later.
Scarce Swallowtail
Nightingales were singing everywhere but were never easy to see, singing from the densest cover. 
Cirl Buntings sang from the tree tops and in the highest part of the gorge, Griffon Vultures sailed overhead.
Cirl Bunting
Before the motorway started again on the final 10 Kilometres or so before the Kulata crossing I turned left and explored the hillside up to Melnick and then on to Rohzen where I stayed a couple of nights.
Red-Rumped Swallow
I found Eastern Orphean Warblers, Golden Orioles, plenty of Red-rumped Swallows, my first Alpine Swifts and Tree Pipit of the trip and a lot of butterflies, Green Hairstreaks, even Common Glider and Camberwell Beauties but it wasn't until my last day that I finally found the Sombre Tit which was one of my target birds for the area, didn't manage a photo but got quite good views as it hopped around at the top of a large tree. 
So I leave Bulgaria, for now, and head for Greece and the famous Lake Kerkini which is fed by the Stroma River I have been following and is only about 40Km as the migrating birds fly.
Route so far


  1. Mmmmm... you're going to be bored when you finally get back. Doug.

  2. I'm sure I'll find something to keep me occupied, planning the next trip perhaps!