17th-27th June 2007


male Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)

The star birds of the trip were undoubtably the pair of Wallcreepers we photographed in Trigrad Gorge. I was fortunate that this year they were nesting in an accessible location only 12m above the road and they performed beautifully over the 3 days we spent there.

male Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)

Emil Enchev photographing the Wallcreepers

Photographing them was, however, not easy. The only time there was enough light for photography in the gorge was between 11 - 2pm when the sun was directly overhead and the light was reflecting off the gravel at the side of the road onto the cliff-face. Even then, we still had to use flash. Also, to get a bit more height and thus a better angle on the birds, we had to balance on top of the crash barrier with our tripods on the roof of the van (see photo above right). Not terribly comfortable, especially with the midday sun beating down on you when the temperature is 39°C in the shade!

male Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)

Trigrad Gorge is itself a spectacular location. Situated in the Rhodopi mountains close to the border with Greece, the vertical walls of marble rise over 300m (1000ft) from the valley floor and are only about 100m (300ft) apart at it's north end.

Trigrad Gorge

At the top of the gorge, at an elevation of 1450m, sits Trigrad village where we stayed for 3 days.

Trigrad village

Around the village, Tree Sparrows and Black Redstarts were common.

juvenile Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

male Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

We were joined over the weekend by Michaela Yordanova, a local botanist, and, when not roasting in the midday sun photographing Wallcreepers, our time was spent exploring the numerous alpine meadows looking for flowers and insects.

Emil & Michaela photographing flowers

This windswept, arid, rocky meadow was about the last place I expected to find a dragonfly...

female Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)

Red-veined Darters are strongly migratory, so this individual may have been just passing through.

Among the flowers we found was this endemic bluebell-type flower growing out of a rockwall by the roadside on the way up to the adjacent Yagodina valley.

Campanula jordanovii



Honeybee visiting a Filipendula vulgaris flower

Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides)

Dianthus petraeus

A large variety of butterflies were present in the meadows...

Scarce Copper (Heodes virgaureae)

Probably a male Silver-studded Blue (Plebejus argus)

Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia)

unidentified Grasshopper

mating Black-veined Whites (Aporia crataegi)

The insect below, although superficially resembling a moth or a butterfly, is in fact a member of the Neuroptera (which includes the antlions and lacewings).

Ascalaphus macaronius


Viola rhodopeia

Tazha Bulgaria map Bratsigovo