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Serbia birding adventure.

Summary and recommendation: 8 or 12 days long birding at the best Serbian birding habitats... for the best residents and migrants. Longer extensions available.


 

Destination country: Serbia. Start and finish from Beograd, Serbia.

Next schedule: Upon request.

Duration: 8 or 12 days (extensions available up to 30 days; see below!)

Price: Ask! Single supplement: TBA. Price includes: accommodations and meals (lunch is typically picnic!), drinking water, vehicle hire with fuel and driver guide, park entrance fees and ranger guides. The price exclude: bank transfer loss, international flight, visa, tips, drinks, personal travel insurance and any other activities of personal request e.g. laundry, toalet fees, phone calls, etc.

Accommodation: Three-star hotels with all rooms en suite.

Numbers: Min. 3, max. 6 tour participants.

Transport: 2 x 4WDs.

Description: "...The nature of Serbia is amongst the most intact in Europe with absolutely breathtaking scenery and many superb birds, including one of the most dramatic Griffon Vulture colonies in Europe. Post-war Serbia is now a safe place where in our experience, where the local people welcome tourists and birders from all over the world.This birding tour will guide you from unique wetlands to indigenous forests – some of Serbia’s most threatened natural areas. Over 40 possible sites were researched before these 20 were chosen. Avoiding the birding spots of troublesome southern Serbia, itinerary is carefully planned to ensure trouble-free land travel and comfortable overnight accommodation, taking you at the same time to some of the best birding spots in the east, north and west of Serbia..."

When to go: Depending on your particular interest, March/April (spring migration), May/June (breeding in full swing), August/September (autumn migration) and November to February (wintering wildfowl) are probably the best months to bird.

Top birds: Great Bustard, Pygmy Cormorant, Ferruginous Duck, Great White and Little Egrets, Spoonbill, Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, Bittern, Little Bittern, Goosander, Red-necked Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Black, Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns, Mediterranean Gull, White and Black Storks, Common Crane, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Stone Curlew, Griffon Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Saker Falcon, Levant Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Montagu's Harrier, Little Owl, Scops Owl, Eagle Owl, Long-eared Owl, Rock Partridge, Nightjar, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Woodpeckers (including Three-toed), Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear, Bearded Tit, Penduline Tit, Sombre Tit, Crestet Tit, Willow Tit, Rock Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Thrush, Collared Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Alpine Accentor, Dipper, Nutcracker, Tawny Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Woodlark and Rock Bunting.

Habitats: Resava Gorges, Kucaj Mountains., Iron Gates National Park., Miroc Mountains, Dubovac, Deliblato Sands National Park, Carska Bara Bird Sanctuary, Uzdinski Ribnjak fishpond, Slano Kopovo Lake, Mokrin Pastures, Selevenj Steppe, Lake Ludas, Danube floodzone, Begecka Jama Pool, Fruska Gora National Park., Bosut Forests, Zasavica Oxbow, Mt. Cer, Tresnjica Gorge, Mt. Tara, Mt. Zlatar, and Uvac Gorge National Park.


Sample itinerary:
(12 days Serbian birding in cooperation with Dragan Simic).

Day 1: Resava Gorges, Eastern Serbia. Arrival to Belgrade Airport and transfer to the Resava Gorges – an absolutely superb area of limestone cliffs with numerous caves, blanketed in vast beech forests and dotted by the thickets of wild lilac that burst into clusters of bluish-purple flowers in May. En route visit to the picturesque, fortified 14th century Manasija Orthodox Monastery and the 2,830 m long Resava Cave (with 900 m of walk paths). After 170 km, tarred road ends by the Lisine Motel, 2 km from the entrance to the gorges (the dirt road through the gorges is negotiable by ordinary cars). Visit to the nearby 24 m high Veliki Buk waterfall, and then to the Suvaja gorge in the afternoon, to hear and hopefully see Eagle Owl in its prime habitat: steep, overgrown slopes and cliffs surrounded by good hunting grounds.

Day 2: Iron Gates, Eastern Serbia. After breakfast - “wilderness experience”, early morning drive through the Resava Gorge with birding stops along the route for Crag Martin and Peregrine Falcon, continuing along the same dirt road through the wooded hills of the Upper Resava some 30 km toward the Bor Lake. From there by tarred roads through deciduous forests of Kucaj Mountains (looking for Grey-headed and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers and, with a bit of luck, also White-backed Woodpecker) toward the Djerdap Gorge National Park, internationally known as Iron Gates after its old Roman name Porta Ferea. The Park stretches along the right bank of the Danube River from well preserved 15th century 9-tower Golubac Castle to the Iron Gates Dam near the town of Kladovo.

Day 3: Iron Gates, Eastern Serbia. Early morning birding along the dirt roads through dense deciduous forests of the Miroc Mountain (768 m a.s.l.). Habitats here include large lake, exposed limestone cliffs (keep your eyes open for Red-rumped Swallow, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon), broad-leaved deciduous woods (Eagle Owl, Black Stork). Possible Chamois sighting. Also present are the mammals like Red Deer, Wild Boar and elusive Lynx (a way too elusive for an encounter). Later during the day, visit to the Lepenski Vir Museum - the 8,000-year-old archaeological site with traces of 59-house settlement and numerous stone sculptures representing human heads. Next to the museum is small open-air exhibition of the traditional architecture of central and eastern regions of Serbia, consisting of a few houses with arched verandas and 4-sloped roofs with characteristic high chimneys. These houses were saved from the submerged Porec Island and carefully rebuilt on higher ground here.

Day 4: Banat, Vojvodina. Depart for Banat in the early morning to give ourselves time to go birding along the road, keeping our eyes open for the Levant Sparrowhawk. En route visit to the Golubac Castle. Ferry across the Danube toward Dubovac heronry (1000-pairs strong, including 350 pairs of the Pygmy Cormorant, also Glossy Ibis, Ferruginous Duck). If strong easterly is blowing, we will have to drive west to the town of Smederevo (if time allows, we may visit 25-tower 14th century castle – the last capital of the mediaeval Serbian state) and cross the river by the Kovin Bridge. From there we will continue through the Deliblato Sands nature reserve. Mostly wooded (pine, birch and false acacia), the sands are 35 km long and 11 km wide. Key species here include steppe birds such as Saker and Red-footed Falcons, Lesser Grey Shrike, Bee-eater, Roller, Sand Martin, Rock Sparrow and, with a load of luck, one of the rarest raptors of Serbia - Imperial Eagle. In the afternoon we will settle in the Carska Bara Bird Sanctuary.

Day 5: Banat, Vojvodina. Early in the morning: sailing the Old Begej canal (Carska Bara) where, among scrub/grass, alluvial woodland, mud flats, salt marsh and fishponds key species include Great White and Little Egrets, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Greylag Goose, Marsh Harrier and numerous other waterbirds. This beautiful wetland area is renowned for its variety of birdlife, with over 260 species recorded. After breakfast, visit to the nearby Uzdinski Ribnjak fishpond, to look for Black-winged Stilt and Avoset. During the day, en route we will observe Slano Kopovo natron lake - traditional resting place on the Crane migration. Spring migration last from February to early April, but the best period is early to mid-March. While autumn migration last longer, from August to December, most birds are recorded in early to mid November. Although average flocks number 1,000 to 2,000 individuals, flocks up to 4,500 individuals were recorded in spring and up to 2,000 in autumn. In the afternoon we will search the Mokrin Pastures for Great Bustard.

Day 6: Backa, Vojvodina. If we were not lucky with Great Bustard the previous day, in the morning we will try again, and then continue west toward Upper Danube. If we were lucky the previous day, we will go straight to the Danube riverside town of Apatin, famous upon its Jelen lager. En route visit to the Slevenj Steppe and Ludas Lake (with its extensive reedbeds – one species to be expected is the Bearded Tit). In the afternoon: Upper Danube floodzone. Habitats: alluvial common oak forest, Danube and its backwaters, mud flats, sand flats. We should find White-tailed Eagle, Black Stork, Tawny Owl, Ferruginous Duck.

Day 7: Srem, Vojvodina. Pre-breakfast birding in the Upper Danube. After breakfast we’re of toward the Mt. Fruska Gora NP. En route visit to the Karadjordjevo Forest. Beside the birds, this is the place to observe Red Deer and Wild Boar herds. Also en route, visit to the Begecka Jama Pool, for its breeding Mute Swans. And after we cross the Danube by the Novi Sad Bridge, we will reach the slopes of 80 km long Mt. Fruska Gora NP (539 m a.s.l.), with lower slopes covered with meadows and grain fields, vineyards and orchards and higher parts, above 300 meters, covered by dense deciduous forests, predominantly linden. The bird species that may be encountered include Syrian Woodpecker, Collared Flycatcher, Song Thrush, Golden Oriole, Saker Falcon, Booted Eagle and eventually, with a lot of luck, Imperial Eagle. Mountain is dotted with 8 Orthodox monasteries built mostly in the 16th century, their architecture often a unique blend of the Byzantine and Baroque. Also, just to additionally spice the birding, wine tasting at private cellars of wine-growing Baroque town of Sremski Karlovci awaits the guests. In the afternoon we will continue toward the Bosut Forests.

Day 8: Macva and Podrinje, Western Serbia. Rise early to arrive at beautiful Bosut alluvial forest before dawn, when the bird activity is at its greatest. Birding among two to three hundred years old common oaks. We could see White-tailed, Lesser Spotted and Booted Eagles, Black Stork, White-backed Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Redstart, Treecreeper, Song Thrush. Midday visit to the Zasavica Oxbow (30 km long) nature reserve. Habitats: alluvial woodland, water fringe vegetation, standing water, grasslands. Key species: White Stork, herons, other waterbirds. Continuing the long afternoon haul toward the Mt. Tara NP, en route we will – if time allows - visit to the slopes of Mt. Cer (looking for Sombre Tit, Syrian Woodpecker, Levant Sparrowhawk, Scops Owl), lower entrance to the Tresnjica River Gorge (about 120 bird species were recorded so far, the area is the most famous upon its rich raptor fauna: Griffon Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle) and picturesque Trsic village open-air museum, preserved home of 19th century Serbial language reformer Vuk Karadzic. Late in the evening we will settle for the night in the Mt. Tara NP.

Day 9: Podrinje, Western Serbia. In the morning Mt Tara NP (1544 m a.s.l.). Habitats: limestone cliffs above the Perucac dam (possible sighting of Chamois), boreal grassland, mixed woods, peatlands, broad-leaved deciduous woods. Key species: Rock Partridge, Black Woodpecker, Alpine Accentor, Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Nutcracker, Crested and Coal Tits, Crossbill, and with some luck, Three-toed Woodpecker. This superb wilderness experience may even be graced by Brown Bear sighting.

Day 10: Podrinje, Western Serbia. Along the way to Uvac we will visit Sirogojno open-air Museum of traditional wooden architecture of western Serbia on nearby Mt. Zlatibor. These houses are not only built but are also covered with steep wooden roofs without real chimneys but with roofed smoke exits. Also, several other stops in the Zlatibor Mountain. Arrive Mt. Zlatar in the afternoon (1,625 m a.s.l.).

Day 11: Western Serbia. This is the Griffon Vulture day and once again we will make an early start: 30 km drive to the dam wall, fallowed by leisurely 30 km sailing along the flooded meanders of Uvac Gorge Sanctuary (1000 m a.s.l.). Over 150 bird species are recorded in the reserve, 19 diurnal and 9 nocturnal birds of prey among them. According to the 1998 census, population of the Griffon Vulture is 250 individuals strong, and early in the morning we will be able to observe adults on their nests and unpaired individuals on their roost ledges, before they took the thermals to the sky (usually not before 9h); and enjoy magnificent vistas of the lake (inhabited by the elusive Otter and rarest and biggest of European fast-water predator fish species - Huchen) surrounded with limestone cliffs with solitary pines. Other than flooded gorge, habitats include boreal birch and aspen woods and alpine grassland. Need we say more? This extraordinary area abounds with unusual and fascinating birds: Griffon Vulture, Golden and Short-toed Eagles, Peregrine and Hobby Falcons, Goosander, Nutcracker, as well as mammals like Grey Wolf and Brown Bear (due to their elusive nature, our chances to spot these mammals are fairly low). In the mid-day we’ll have picnic lunch on the bank of the upper Uvac, and in the afternoon visit to the mediaeval Milesevo Orthodox Monastery, famous upon its Byzantine style fresco paintings. Well preserved “The Angel on the Christ’s Grave” is the masterpiece of 12th century fresco technique. In the late afternoon/evening we should hear and see several species of owls - hopefully Tengmalm’s Owl among them.

Day 12: Return to Belgrade and, depending on the time of departure, sightseeing/strolling/shopping along the Knez Mihajlova street, visit to nearby 19th century palace of Duchess Ljubica (turned into a museum), National Museum or Museum of Frescoes, or ancient Kalemegdan Fortress (first built by the Romans) for views over the confluence of the two mighty rivers, the Sava and the Danube. If you’re lucky, you may even be graced by the sight of White-tailed Eagle soaring high in the Belgrade sky. Transfer to the Airport.

Extensions:
-"Former-Yugoslavia" birding adventure together with Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia (up to 30 days on request).
-Hungary-Serbia birding (up to 21 days on request).




Black square=Beograd
Yellow dots=base trip stations


   



Upcoming trips & Expeditions

Slovenia butterflying (21 - 28 July, 2022)

Bears and Butterflies o Transylvania. With Danube Clouded Yellow and High Carpathian extension; 30 July - 06, Aug. , 2022)

Crane weekends of Hungary (October, 2022)

2023' dates are coming in late August

Full tour calendar


Griffon Vultures at the feeding place
Griffon Vulture on nest
Uvac Gorge NP
Uvac river
Resava Gorge NP
Village scenery
The famous bridge of Mostar (XIX. century)
Iron Gates NP (XIX. century painting by László Mednyánszky)
Carska Bara Nature Reserve
"Mladica" (Hucho hucho). The dream of all fly-fishers... the king of all Trouts.
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