Well, I have to say this was my first ever official birdwatching tour and having shied away from the thought of hoards of twitchers and super-keen and highly skilled birders, I was somewhat wary. But how could I resist - not only the lure of birds of prey and especially owls but a call from the Urban Birder himself.
Set off with scope and binoculars, bird guide and notebook packed - spotting birds along the way to the airport - 3 buzzards on the M25. Picked up a copy of The Observer with a great article on the man himself.
On arrival at Belgrade airport - my first bird of prey - but not enough of a glance to identify it - possible buzzard. David was there to meet us along with Milan Ruzic our guide for the tour and worth his weight in gold. It didn't take long to get the first ticks on the list. A night heron roost on the banks of the Danube along with several pygmy cormorant and my first swifts of the year.
Heading north out of Belgrade to our first hotel of the stay - Kastel Ecka and within minutes we'd already ticked off our first owls of the tour. A long-eared owl nesting in a tree in the hotel grounds - literally feet away with the male roosting in a neighbouring tree, a little owl calling and then spotted at the top of the tree and a barn-owl heard in the distance - although it's thought to be nesting in the church tower and I'm sure I caught a fleeting glimpse as we arrived.