Rare guests

Snow Bunting, photo: Petar Iankov

Rare winter visitor at Sarafovo


The cold front at the end of 2014 brought to the Burgas area many birds from North. On 01.01.2015 at one of the piers of Sarafovo Estate a male Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) in winter plumage was observed. Male bird in winter plumage (possibly the same bird) was recorded again at the same place on 08.01.2015, 14.01.2015 and 16.01.2015.


The Snow Bunting breeds in the northernmost parts of Europe. There is relatively restricted list of records of this species in Bulgaria, mainly during winter time. Most of the observations are from the Dobrudzha area (North-Eastern Bulgaria), although the species has been seen also in the Southern Bulgaria, including in the past at the Burgas Wetlands.



 Unusual winter records in Burgas area

At the beginning of February the winter stepped back from its positions and probably this is the reason some typical migrants to appear in the area of Burgas in spite of the recent cold front.

On 09.02.2015 at the eastern part of Burgas Lake Iordan Hristov and other birdwatchers observed a White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) in full breeding plumage. The White-winged Tern is a species, which is most numerous in Bulgaria during migration periods. It is scarce breeder, mainly along the Danube River, and the observation in question is the first for the country winter record of this typical long distance migrant.

Obviously 09.02.2015 has been not a typical winter day, as at the Mouth of River Izvorska Protected Site (part of Mandra Lake) Iordan Hristov (obviously having lucky day at this particular date) together with the other birdwatchers observed a Black Kite (Milvus migrans). Later the same day one Black Kite (possibly the same bird) was observed by Radoslav Moldovanski at Poda Protected Site. Although this is not the first winter record of the species for Bulgaria (most of the Black Kite winter records are just from the beginning of February, though there are January records, too), this observation confirm the trend in the winter presence of this typical migrant.

There are data about the winter presence of the Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) in Bulgaria, but they are not considered to be indisputable. In confirmation of them, however, is the record of an Ortolan Bunting on 11.02.2015 by Iordan Hristov, Petar Iankov and other birdwatchers at Sarafovo Estate of Burgas.

The BSPB Conservation Centre Poda will continue to inform all visitors of the Centre and its web-site about all the new and interesting bird records in Burgas area.


A new winter record of the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)


The Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is long-distance migrant, leaving Bulgaria relatively early, somewhere between mid-August and beginning of September. Rarely some birds remain till the beginning of October, and winter records are very rare exception. The known Bulgarian winter records are four only. First and second oservations have been made by Ivan Peshev, an ornithologist, studying the birds along the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. On 29.01.1965 he found a juvenile at Durankulak Lake, and on 16.01.1970 - another bird at Longoza area. On 04.12.1977 two Glossy Ibises have been recorded by the well known Bulgarian ornithologist Stefan Donchev at the Burgas Lake. One bird has been observed at Uzungeren Bay (part of Mandra Lake near Burgas) on 15.02.1997 by Milko Dimitrov and his team, but it is assumed that it has been a case of an early spring migrant.

Obviously the Glossy Ibis tend to appear around Burgas during an interval of about 20 years, as on 29.12.2015 we observed an adult bird flying over the southern part of Atanasovsko Lake. The ibis was flying low towards the northern part of the lake and was obviously a bird, which was not a transit flyer. This is one of the most ‘winter' record of the species in Bulgaria, though the winter itself is quite not a ‘winter' one with the temperatures close to 10 degree Celsius over the zero.

For more information:
Petar Iankov,
BSPB Nature Conservation Centre PODA
Phone: +359 56 / 500 560
Mobile: + 359 878 252 722
E-mail: poda@bspb.org