Our Summer holiday was a Bulgaria Dragonfly spotting holiday by the travel company Naturetrek.  The holiday specialised in Dragonflies.  We traveled around the country spotting various different dragonflies.  There was plenty of opportunity to view birds and plants.

Tour Leaders: Dave Smallshire (Naturetrek Leader)
Tihomir (Tisho) Stephanov (Local Guide)
Yordan (Dancho) Kutsarov (Local guide)

Participants: Colin A Lancashire
Rosemary B Buckinghamshire
Steve B Buckinghamshire
Lorraine E Leicestershire
Richard E Leicestershire

Summary: This circuit of central and southern Bulgaria gave us a good insight into both the dragonfly fauna and abundant other wildlife of the region. After visiting streams in the Sredna Gora Mountains, we moved south-east to the low mountains of the biodiversity-rich Eastern Rhodope. Here, two days looking at varied habitats produced a good range of dragonflies and other insects, including the extraordinary Odalisque – a damselfly that looks rather like a dragonfly. Our next two days were spent in the higher Western Rhodope Mountains, where a select range of dragonflies were found, including lots of Spearhead (Northern) Bluets at their southernmost locality in the world. After exceptionally close encounters with Wallcreepers feeding young and good numbers of the beautiful little Banded Darter, we arrived at Melnik, the base for our final two nights. At Rupite Hot Springs, we were greeted by a small flock of wandering Eleonora’s Falcons while the final climax to a superb trip was seeing Black Pennant at a new, third location for the species in Bulgaria. The group saw an excellent total of 47 species of dragonflies (excluding possible Brilliant Emerald, 71 butterflies and 120 birds, not to mention a wide range of other animals and plants that the combined talents of the group helped to find and identify.

After an uneventful flight from London Heathrow, we met our Bulgarian guides and drivers, Tisho and Dancho, at Sofia airport. We continued on to our first scheduled dragonfly site, a small stream running into the Topolnica River. We arrived at our destination, a small, family-run hotel in the historic village of Koprivshtitsa, in good time to relax before a splendid Bulgarian dinner.

The rustic nature of Koprivshtitsa was very apparent as we became accustomed to seeing horse-drawn carts as often as motor cars. Finally, as rain and thunder set in for the evening, we arrived at a new venue in Krumovgrad, a very comfortable small hotel which supplied most welcome drinks and a hearty meal.

Before breakfast, with low cloud still hanging over the hills, a walk down to the Krumovitza River yielded dewy Small Pincertail and White-tailed Skimmer still at their roost sites in low vegetation.

The next dragonfly site was a reservoir near Zhelezhari. We soon located Blue-eyes, egg-laying Robust Spreadwings, Lesser Emperor, Green-eyed Hawker and a beautiful and exceptionally persistent hovering Blue-eyed Hawker, that after ten minutes was the subject of several gigabytes worth of flight images!

Today we moved from the hot Easter Rhodope to the higher cooler Western Rhodope Mountains. We stopped at the small well vegetated Sestrinko Reservoir for an hour or so in the mid morning, where large numbers of darters, mainly Broad Scarlets were emerging.

We then drove up the gorge nearly to the top and parked right next to what must be the best Wallcreeper stakeout in Europe. A pair were making frequent visits to well grown young in their nest. Flying in and out over our heads.

We then continued our journey westwards towards the Pirin Mountains. We stopped mid morning to look at some flooded gravel workings stocked with fish near the Mesta River. Green eyed Hawker and lots of Broad Scarlets were notable among a range of common dragonflies. Pride of place went to two Common Clubtails found by Lorraine. Great Reed Warblers and a Little Bittern were also seen.

A short distance away from this site is a larger gravel pit where Bulgaria's first Bladetails (Lindenia tetraphylla) were found in 2009. So our final journey of the day took us here. There was a brief fly by glimpse of what might have been this species. Our attention was diverted by shouts from a couple on the far side of the lake

We found a great bar outside the presidents residence where we could sit and watch people coming and going. We sat there drinking our way through the cocktail menu. Well the prices were good. We ate there while watching the guard changing.


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