Mainly hot and sunny, maximum 33C

A walk around the hotel grounds before breakfast produced excellent views of Crossbills and a Rock Bunting.  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.

Danch had the pleasure of driving a long section into the Pirin Mountains.  The road surface having been extensively removed in preparation for resurfacing.  Around midday we arrived in Papaz Tchair, Bulgaria’s largest area of peat bog.  We walked down to a stream through hundreds of orchids and many other colourful flowers.  Soon we found and caught the first of several Sombre Goldenrings.  The track running alongside the stream attracted a Camberwell Beauty and several Nettle Tree Butterflies.  An Apollo flew by and eventually we had good views of Nutcrackers in the conifers.  Colin took the scenic route back to the cafe where we had lunch.

The final stop on the way to Melnik was the Pirinska Bistritza River near Katuntzi.  Walking down to the small stream that has in the past held goldenrings.  We were delighted to find lots of Banded Darters.  Keeled and Southern Skimmers sat close to each other giving a nice comparison.

We arrived in Melnik in time for those who wished to take a stroll around the well preserved historic town.  Dinner was outside, and consisted of meatball and Shopsta salad.  After a splendid outdoor dinner at the lovely Hotel Boliarka, which was enlivened by the appearance of a Stag Beetle, we walked to the first dark area at the edge of the town. Here we were greeted by the magical sight of male Fireflies flashing signals to unseen females below.  Unfortunately an increase in street lighting seems to have driven the Fireflies further out of town.  Also well beyond the town lights a Scops Owl could be heard, but not seen.  By contrast several Kotschky’s Geckos were in view on the wall of an old building.

The town was smart with expensive cars.  The hotel was one of the better hotels with big rooms and  working bedside lights.


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