Bucegi Mountains,, xulescu_g | CC BY-SA 2.0

Trip Report: SPEC Birding tour through Romania and NE Bulgaria ~ 5-22 May 2019

Bears, birds and bees tour

Introduction and summary

The tour group consisted of 14 birders of diverse experience, eight staying for the tour duration and six returning home after ten days. Our principal aim was to see the famous Brown Bears of Transylvania along with many species of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians. We again used Neophron as our Ground Agent with a special request that Minko Madjarov acted as our local guide for the first two weeks of the tour. He didn’t disappoint.

We started our tour during peak spring migration on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast close to the border with Romania. The wildlife frequenting the colourful wild steppe that spreads up to the cliff edge of Cape Kaliakra was rewarding as were the lakes that were explored before crossing the border into Romania. We birded the Dobrogea region, the easternmost part of Romania, which is a mix of dry, gently rolling steppes and farmland, dotted with woodland hills, a wealth of lakes, marshes and lush meadows. The coastal lagoons and marshlands hosted a huge variety of water birds along with many migrants giving sensational birdwatching opportunities.

A visit to Romania would not have been complete without enjoying an unbroken vista of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, the country’s highest mountains. This long chain of mountains in the southern, eastern and northern parts of Romania, with vast stretches of spruce, beech and oak forests, host large populations of Brown Bear, Wolf, Chamois and a rich diversity of birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and plants. We visited some spectacular gorges and explored the high mountain tops. We were fortunate in seeing 14 bears all told and achieved a trip list of 218 species of birds.

Team: Minko (local leader) Steve Piotrowski, Paddy Shaw, Chris Jennson, Rebecca Bedwell, John Bedwell, Sally Middleton, Lesley Glassington, Helen Gooderham, Martine Huit, Fiona Smith, Mervyn Jones, John Grant, John Garbutt, Carol Elliott 

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Your Guide


Steve Piotrowski is an accomplished tour guide and has birded The Balkans on many occasions. He is familiar with the best wildlife sites and will be able to locate key species that inhabit the mountains and marshes.



by Miltos Gikas / CC BY 2.0

Hazel Grouse

Hazel Grouse

by Tatiana Bulyonkova / CC BY-SA 2.0

Syrian Woodpecker

Syrian Woodpecker

by hedera.baltica / CC-BY-SA-2.0