Bulgaria Travel Diary - p 2
29 May 2012
Arriving in the valley, Tisho drives us to the
edge of a village where Spatia Wildlife has the 'garden hide.' It is a
permanent hide facing a smalll pond, beyond which is a lawn where sunflower seed are put
out near appropriate perches. This is basic bird-on-a-stick photography, with closeups of
typical European birds more or less guaranteed.. Unlike the bee-eaters and rollers,
these birds, such as the Jay, are mostly the Eurasian counterparts to familiar North
Joining it are Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, and
of course House Sparrows and the occasional Starling. Posts attract Syrian
Woodpecker and the Nuthatch.
||30 May 2012
Last night we arrived at our guesthouse in the
town of Pavel Banya. After settling in, we walked a few blocks to the Restaurant
Aco, starting the meal with a cold Zagorka beer. Then came a shopska salad
- cucumbers and tomatoes topped with sirene cheese. The rest of the fare
was plain but tasty, a kyufte, minced meat patty which for some reason is called
a meatball. My side was chips which we Yanks call French fries or freedom fries if
you are a francophobe.
Next morning we returned to the garden hide. This time the star
bird was Hawfinch, which perched obligingly for a photo. In the genus Coccothraustes,
Hawfinch is the Eurasian counterpart to the Evening Grosbeaks that were flocking to my
seed tray at our New Mexico cabin when I left.
| Next comes a stint in a portable hide in the middle
of a plowed field, some 15 m or so from a copse of bushes in which a pair of Hoopoes are
nesting. The female, who's likely incubating eggs in that hole shown in the photo,
emerges for a quick look-see, but fails to raise the huge crest for which Hoopoes are
noted. Her mate later brings a tasty worm for her, but she stays put in her hole.
So I must be content with this one photo of a shy, enigmatic bird.
||After a lunch of meatballs in
a bean stew, we go to Spatia's other permanent blind, situated on a grassy slope near a
small pond. We see Corn Bunting and Stonechat, but the most colorful birds are a
pair of Red-backed Shrikes.
You cannot drive half a mile down a country road here without seeing
Red-backed Shrikes - surely one of the most abundant birds around. If they ate small
songbirds as do the Loggerhead Shrikes who winter in Oklahoma, there would soon be no
birds left. But as the photo of the male shows, the Red-backs mostly eat insects.
|The Red-back's mate was
likewise in attendance. More tame than the male, she posed for dozens of images,
including several where she became upset because a female Common Blackbird, with a beak
full of worms for her chicks, invaded her personal space.