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Bulgaria remains one of the mostunder-visited corners of Europe andyet its broad range of habitats andgeographical position mean that itsupports a very diverse and exciting rangeof both breeding and migratory birdspecies. The western shore of the BlackSea naturally acts as a major migrationcorridor and our tour is timed to witnessthe peak passage of huge numbers ofraptors, storks, pelicans, waders and otherspecies that pass south along theBulgarian coast at this time of year. In thecourse of an action-packed week, we willexplore the meadows and gorges of theRhodope Mountains before travellingacross country to the extensive coastalwetlands around Pomorie, the woodlandsof the Goritza Hills, the cliff-boundheadlands near Kavarna and the lakesaround Durankulak close to the Romanianborder. In addition to providing a broadintroduction to the dramatic scenery anddiverse culture of Bulgaria, the weekshould also bring us into contact with anexcellent range of exciting bird species,including some real east Europeanspecialities and all, hopefully, in warmautumn sunshine!Our holiday begins in the rugged RhodopeMountains, where we will be based nearthe town of Madzarovo in the woodedArda River Valley. The Rhodope Mountainsare justly famous for their impressiveraptor populations and in the ancient,volcanic landscape of jagged peaks,towering cliffs and sparsely vegetatedboulder-strewn slopes, we will look forsuch spectacular species as Golden,Imperial and Short-toed Eagles, Black,Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Long-legged Buzzard, and Saker and PeregrineFalcons. Black Storks are common heretoo, and small birds include RockNuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Sombre Titand the elusive Chukar.Transferring north-eastwards to Pomorieon the Black Sea Coast, we will pass closeto the meeting place of the borders ofBulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Thisinteresting drive will take us acrosswooded hills, fertile valleys and stonyplains and we can hope to see passageraptors such as Lesser Spotted andBooted Eagles, Honey and SteppeBuzzards, Montagu's Harrier, LevantSparrowhawk and both Red-footed Falconand Hobby. We should also look out forRed-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes,Bee-eaters and perhaps a late Roller ortwo on the roadside wires, together withmigrant larks and wheatears in the more open areas.At Pomorie we will explore the extensivewetlands nearby. Between the saline LakeAtanasovsko, with its surroundingsaltpans, and the reed-fringed LakeMandra, with its water meadows andadjacent wooded hills, we can expect toencounter a huge range of birds.Highlights may well include both Whiteand Dalmatian Pelicans, PygmyCormorant, Black Stork, Great Egret,Squacco, Purple and Night Herons, GlossyIbis, Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls, Gull-billedTern and almost any European wader.Amongst the commoner raptors passingthrough, we will need to keep an eye openfor scarcer species such as Spotted Eagleand Pallid Harrier, whilst on the ground weare likely to encounter large numbers ofmigrant wagtails, pipits and larks.Leaving Pomorie behind, we will travel north to Kavarna, passing the quaint old Byzantine port of Nesebar, with itsnumerous churches and ruins, andstopping in the wooded Goritza Hillswhere Black, Middle Spotted and Grey-headed Woodpeckers all occur and wherewe might also find a Short-toedTreecreeper or a late migrant Red-breasted or Semi-collared Flycatcher.From Kavarna we will explore the dramaticcliff-bound headland of Kaliakra with itsspectacularlypositioned castle. On the dry, open, stonysteppe-land here we can expectto find Calandra Lark, Stone Curlew and arange of migrants including Bee-eaters,Pied and Isabelline Wheatears, moreraptors and various larks, pipits, shrikesand buntings. Further north still is the shallow, reed-fringed Durankulak Lake where we willspend our last full day. With its reputationfor the rare and unusual, we are unlikely tobe disappointed. Large numbers of birdsare likely to be present here and may wellinclude Dalmatian Pelican, PygmyCormorant, Great and Little Bitterns,Glossy Ibis, Common Crane, FerruginousDuck and Caspian Tern. Waders, too,should be much in evidence, and we mustnot neglect the small birds in the reedsand scrub, as Paddyfield, Savi's, River,Marsh and Moustached Warblers may allbe present. Whatever we see, it is likely toprovide a fitting finale to a rich andrewarding week in this exciting and under-watched country.Bulgaria in AutumnA 9-day tour in search of the resident and migrant birds of the Rhodope Mountains and Black Sea Coast. Saturday 7th September - Sunday 15th September Cost: £1,495Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationBULGARIAKAVARNASOFIAMADZAROVOPOMORIENESEBARTURKEYGREECEMACEDONIASERBIAROMANIABLACK SEADANUBE Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Sofia and transfer toMadzarovo.Day 2Madzarovo.Day 3/5 Pomorie.Day 6/8Kavarna.Day 9Fly London.AccommodationSimple but comfortable hotels withprivate facilities throughout.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Easy day walks only. FocusBirds.LeaderGeoff Carr, plus local guide(s).Single room supplement£150.ExtensionsExtra nights in Sofia available onrequest.Web quick search: BGR0239Black VultureDolna Kula Valley, Rhodope Mountains

The Fortunate Islands, so named byearly buccaneers and conquistadors,are remarkable for their wealth ofunique plant and animal-life. These sevenislands have been isolated for longenough to have evolved an endemic floraand fauna, and now provide one of thenaturalist's greatest opportunities toappreciate the evolutionary process firstobserved by Charles Darwin in the 19thcentury. From a botanical point of view, theCanary Islands constitute one of the mostinteresting areas of the world, not onlybecause of the variety of flowers but alsobecause of the large number of endemicspecies - more than 600 - and theirunique origin. During this tour to theIslands we will be certain to see many ofthe endemic Canary species of plants inflower. This is also the peak time toobserve the five endemic breeding birds ofthis magnificent and diverse volcanicarchipelago. On this tour we will visit threeof the islands - Tenerife, Gomera andFuerteventura - and cruise or fly betweenthem. Our purpose will be to admire andobserve all the endemic bird species andmany of the endemic plants, not forgettingthe fabulous marine-life!Tenerife, our main base, presents an arrayof habitats of which the pine forest andhigh mountain zone of Teide National Parkare most representative of the island. Thepine forest has only one native species oftree - the Canary Pine (Pinus canariensis)- and an undergrowth dominated byMyrica fayaand heather (Erica arborea).Curiously, this pine's closest relative isfound not in Europe or north Africa, but inthe Himalaya! It is in this unique forest thatwe will be able to look for the two endemicspecies of Canary Island passerines thatoccur on Tenerife - the Blue Chaffinchand the Tenerife Kinglet. We should alsosee the endemic subspecies of GreatSpotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Buzzard,Rock Dove, Kestrel and Chiffchaff (allshowing a high degree of differentiation).The high mountain zone starts above thepine forest at a height of about 1,980metres. Teide National Park encompassesthe vast caldera called Las Cañadas, withits inward-facing cliff walls that rise toabout 500 metres, as well as twovolcanoes which have obliterated thenorthern rim of Las Cañadas - Pico delTeide (3,718 metres) and Pico Viejo. Theproportion of endemic species of plants inthe high mountain zone is amongst thehighest for any region in the world. Abouta dozen species of vascular plants arefound almost exclusively in Teide NationalPark, whilst a large percentage of the otherplants found here are either restricted toTenerife alone or to the Canary Islands asa whole. The vegetation of this highmountain zone is dominated by twospecies of leguminous shrubs - TeideBroom (Spartocytisus supranubius) andAdenocarpus viscosus- both Canaryendemic species. It is in this national parkthat we will look for the threeMacaronesian endemic bird species:Berthelot's Pipit, Plain Swift and Canary.The Canary Lizard is very common in thiszone and Mouflon (Wild Sheep) cansometimes be seen.From Tenerife we will cross by ferry to thetranquil island of Gomera, where we willspend a full day. On the crossing we willhave the opportunity to do some sea-watching, for these waters are the year-round home of Short-finned Pilot Whalesand Bottlenose Dolphins, as well as suchseabirds as Cory's and Little Shearwaters,and the rare White-faced Storm-petrel. Onreaching Gomera we will explore themarvellous Garajonay National Park and itsextensive ancient Laurel forests where atremendous variety of flowers andbutterflies may be found. This is also thehome of two endemic birds - Bolle'sPigeon and Laurel Pigeon - which weshould see flying over the forest canopy.We continue eastwards, now moving on tothe island of Fuerteventura for a 3-nightstay. This island presents a totally differentflora and fauna, more African thanEuropean. Flat by comparison with theother two islands, Fuerteventura isconsiderably more arid, and provides anexcellent home for such north African birdspecies as Egyptian Vulture, BarbaryPartridge, Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Lesser Short-toedLark, Spectacled Warbler, Southern GreyShrike and Trumpeter Finch. The starattractions, however, are the endemicFuerteventura Chat and the endemic raceof Houbara Bustard, a species that isbecoming seriously endangered over mostof its range. We should see most, if not all,of these species.The unusual, exotic and magnificentsubtropical Canary Islands with theirendemic flora and fauna and spectacularvolcanic scenery will surely make this amemorable and rewarding tour. Above all,we will be able to observe and appreciatethe fascination of these islands byexploring the countryside beyond thetourist resorts.The Canary Islands An 8-day tour in search of the endemic plants, birds, butterflies and cetaceans of the Canary Islands.Saturday 10th November - Saturday 17th November 2012 Cost: £1,495Saturday 23rd February - Saturday 2nd March 2013 Cost: £1,495Saturday 9th November - Saturday 16th November 2013 Cost: £1,495Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Tenerife.Day 2Teide National Park andTeno Natural Park.Day 3Gomera and GarajonayNational Park.Day 4Medano or AnagaPeninsula.Day 5/7Fuerteventura.Day 8Fly UK.AccommodationComfortable hotels with privatefacilities throughout.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade A.FocusBirds, plants, butterflies andcetaceans.LeaderTony Clarke (ornithologist andbotanist).Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsExtra days/week(s) in the Canaries,with or without car rental, availableon request.Web quick search: ESP1540Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryGARAJONAYNATIONAL PARKTEIDENATIONAL PARKTENONATURAL PARKJANDIABETANCURIATINDAYALA OLIVAPUERTODEL ROSARIOGOMERAHIERROLA PALMAFUERTEVENTURALANZAROTEGRAN CANARIATENERIFECANARY ISLANDSMount TeideHoubara BustardCanary Bellflower