Macedonia is a landlocked Balkan nation of mountains, lakes and ancient towns with Ottoman and European architecture. The capital, Skopje, is known for its sprawling Old Bazaar quarter and historic buildings turned museums, including the National Gallery of Macedonia, housed in a 15th-century Turkish bath complex.
Macedonia offers traditionally managed landscapes full of birds. It’s history dates back to the Macedonian dynasty and Ilyrian towns. Sometimes called the “Pearl of the Balkans”, Macedonia has breathtaking landscapes with vast areas grazed by sheep flocks and countryside full of scenic mountains. Birds are plentiful and include rarer European species such as Levant Sparrowhawk, Long-legged Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle and Lanner, Masked Shrike, Wallcreeper, Orphean Warbler and both Rock Thrushes.
Wildlife is everywhere in Macedonia. The country seems to be one huge, continuous nature habitat and even the most casual stop by the roadside rarely fails to provide a good variety of birds, insects and plants. The Babuna River Valley holds Roller and Golden Oriole, breeding in poplars fringing the river, while Rock Partridge is often flushed from the ground. Booted Eagle and Levant Sparrowhawk can often be seen overhead and are occasionally joined by Black Stork. Late May is also the best season for the rather unpredictable Rosy Starling, which is regularly found in good numbers in the surrounding steppe.
Along the Vardar River and in the surrounding hills the highly prized Imperial Eagle can be found, while other typical birds of the area include Olivaceous and Orphean Warblers, Short-toed Eagle, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike and Spanish Sparrow. A large Lesser Kestrel colony - one of the last in the Balkans, holds over 130 pairs.
Masked Shrike © Peter Alfrey
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