Surrounding of Sofia

The last two days of our trip we discovered Sofia’s nature. For us a big surprise that some special species live so close to this city. Even in the city! We found totally green male Sand lizards (subspecies chersonensis) and Smooth snakes at a weed-grown land in a suburb of Sofia

National park Vitosha

Sofia is the capital city with about two millions habitants. It situated in a valley (Sofia Plain) and is surrounded by mountains. The highest and the most famous is the Vitosha mountain. Vitosha is the oldest protected national park of the Balkan and it rises immediately above Sofia. The highest peak is Mt. Cherni Vrah (that means Black Peak) 2290 m above sea level. At the top of the Vitosha you have an excellent view over Sofia. Vitosha is home to several rare species like brown bear, wolves, goshawk, eagle owl and golden eagle. Within these two days we met two groups of birdwatchers. A senior group of Englishmen looking for Corncrake and a Dutch group. This part of Bulgaria is apparently a well known place for commercial bird-trips

A view on Sofia from the adder habitat in the summit area of Mount Vitosha


But we were primarily interested in the occurrence of Adders (subspecies bosniensis). This subspecies of our ‘normal’ adder lives at the top of Vitosha mountain. Bosniensis has, in contrast to our adder, a more broken up dark zigzag stripe on the back. Some specimens may look like Asp vipers, with dark cross bars on the back.  

In this region the Adder is restricted to the higher parts of the mountains. At an altitude of 1900 m we found 4 specimens. The weather conditions for adders were excellent so the adders were basking openly close under dwarf juniperus-shrub. At this site we also spot Common lizard and a Sand lizard. Here in the mountains occur the subspecies Lacerta a. bosnica. In table 5 you can find all the observations. 

The adder habitat on the top of Vitosha mountain at 1900 meter above sea level. Finding 
adders depends very much on the weather conditions. You need a little bit of sun, certainly 
not too much. A sunny pause in between showers is excellent.
Reptiles & amphibiansSofia surroundings
Common frog Rana temporaria2
Sand lizard Lacerta agilis6
Viviparous lizard Zootoca vivipara> 10
Slow worm Angius fragilis2
Smooth snake Coronella austriaca2
Grass snake Natrix natrix1
Adder Vipera berus4
Other highlights  
QuailCoturnix coturnixSound
CorncrakeCrex crexSound
Ring ouzelTurdus torquatus3
Female and male of Vipera b. bosniensis together

With the sand lizard looking back at Sofia, we look back at an impressive trip.

Thanks Bulgaria and thank you Nikolay, we’ll be back for sure one day.

Ronald, Guido, Nikolay, Kosta, Bart, Arjan