An hour’s walk through the forest before breakfast produced Firecrests, a pair of Crested Tits, Pallid Swifts, Crossbills and fleeting views of a Nutcracker.  Large plants by the hotel were finally pinned down to White False Helleborine.  Amazingly breakfast was ready at 7.30, individual plates, cheeses, boiled eggs, jam, honey, toast and coffee. After breakfast we moved on to the spectacular Trigrad Gorge, stopping briefly at a roadside Alpine Swift colony and then to view the historic town of Siroka Laka.  A walk along a side valley produced sever butterflies of interest, including Scarce Swallowtail, Black-veined White, Scarce Copper, Pearly Heath, Large Ringlet, Oriental Marbled Skipper and a Poplar Admiral.  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 moved above Trigard to a restaurant for a trout and chips lunch. Rosemary says the loos were on par with Glastonbury.  A brief look in the adjacent meadow produced the hoped for Apollo plus a few Ascalaphids.  Then we made our way back down the gorge and continued our journey to Dospat.  We stopped to walk along a stream near Borino to look for Balkan Goldenring.  Colin found one which promptly landed well up in a conifer and two exuviae were found.  Balkan Copper added to a good butterfly day.

Our final stop for the day was at the Sarnena River, where the floodplain includes a reedy lake and extensive seasonal wetland. Disappointingly Yellow winged Darters were not in evidence at this regular site, but we succeeded in finding two territorial emerald dragonflies.  Water Rails called, Ortolan Buntings sang nearby and our only Chestnut Heath and Tree Frog of the trip were seen here.  We arrived at Dabrash Hotel at Despat in time for a walk on the evening sun. Time for a shower and Internet access.  The day ended with a hearty meal of stew and the usual tomato, cucumber, pepper and grated cheese, and a good sample of local beverages.


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