Bulgaria Travel Diary - p 3

1 June 2012
A slow day in a valley below the Balkans, with no luck photographing a Wryneck, cousin to woodpeckers, or Isabelline Wheatear, abundant in the pastures where cattle graze.
   As the day ends, we trek up a hillside to poplars where Great-spotted Woodpeckers are nesting.  Both the male and female are diligently feeding chicks.   We photograph in dull light until finally chased back to our van by rainshowers.   We have had a downpour every day except one, so the woodpeckers are to be commended for having the foresight to chisel out their nest hole on the underside of the tree trunk.



male Great-Spotted Woodpecker

2 June 2012
But today brings a sunny morning.  Duncan and I are ending the tour as we began, photographing bee-eaters from a hide.  This time we're in a pasture above the clay bank where the birds are nesting.  By the greatest of good fortune, a bare limb hangs out over the top of the bank, providing an ideal perch some 12 m from our blind.
    This seems to be the courtship period for our Bulgarian birds.   The male lands on the limb with a tasty bee for the female.


Among bee-eaters, nothing seems to fan the flames of amour so much as an insect affectionately presented by the male.  According to Mike, this love offering was a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.
We finish our last day of photography at the garden hide.  The Great Tit is widespread in Britain and Europe and so not eagerly sought by our group.  Except for me.  I have a fondness for all the parids, including our chickadees and titmice in the US.  Great Tit
Greenfinch 3 June 2012
My last shot of the photo tour yesterday was a Greenfinch posing of course on a stick.
   Today we returned to Ruse, where driver Atanas Rusev took us across the Danube and on to Bucharest.  He delivered Elizabeth, MIke, and Duncan to the airport; then, drove me to the comtemporary, you might even say avant-garde Hotel Christina, rated as the top hotel in Bucharest by Tripadvisor.  Here I will spend the night before my long flights home.  I relax on their private patio, enjoying complimentary wine and cheese as I look over my bird photos, proof positive that Bulgaria actually exists. 

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