This is the photo album from my workshop in Bulgaria 2016. We visited two different areas during the workshop and the first stop was in the Eastern Rhodope mountains. An area I visited the first time in 2013.
The hide was not the same as I used in 2013, but it had been used with success in 2015.
The hide is situated in the area of Studen Kladenets. An area with the third largest water reservoir in Bulgaria. The placing was good with the sun in the back for most of the day and worked fairly well with four people inside. One understood that it wasn’t primarily built with photographers in mind. It was octagonal in shape and had windows in all directions even if most had been covered now. The place will work well if photographers keep coming there. The birds get more used to the movement from inside the hide, but it would be optimal to build a proper photo hide. A hide that use the type of glass windows that can be seen in many places in Europe. I know they use glass windows for vulture photography in Spain so it should also work here.
There are plans to build a proper photo hide which would be awesome. It would mean you can work with your photography at another level on site. Today you really need to be patient. To be able to wait for the vultures to relax and start feed before you take a single shot. This means you can’t work with them flying towards the hide or work with the other birds of prey that do fly over the feeding site. A glass in front of the photographers would eliminate most of the distraction a moving lens make. It would raise the success rate on site. A new hide would benefit the birds as well as making the place better suited for photography.
Still we got to see the vultures that we wanted, together with other birds of prey. Sadly we missed out on the vulture feast this time. We had over 20 Griffon Vultures on the ground at one time. They were clearly afraid as they didn’t come for the goodies only a few meters away. They just sat there watching it.
We did some short afternoon excursions and the area really teemed with life. A couple of days in this area would probably bring many interesting species in front of the lens. A lucky person could even get the possibility to photo the Golden Oriole and not just see the flash of yellow.
One of the highlights for me was to see the European Bison family that is going to be released. We saw a couple of Przewalkski’s horse which are wandering wild in the mountains. The ones we saw were semi-tame and not wild. Eastern Rhodope is an area with high biodiversity and I understand why it is included in Rewildering Europe.
On the way from the Eastern Rhodope we stumbled upon a group of European Bee-eaters. A great bonus if you ask me.
The second area we visited were the wetlands around Burgas.
Burgas is the fourth largest city in Bulgaria so it was a huge contrast between the areas we visited.
The objective in Burgas was two-folded as we wanted to work with waders and marsh terns.
Sadly the first wasn’t as good as it could have been as the salt pans had dried up. It made photography hard because the small waders stayed way too far-out for us. Only one place worked fairly well and that was the salt museum in Pomorie.
We found all three marsh tern species, i.e. Black tern, White-winged tern and Whiskered tern. We also saw Common tern, Sandwich tern and Little tern. I even think some heard and saw both Gull-billed Tern and Caspian Tern.
Next time I will bring Wellingtons or waders. It would have been great to actually be in the water when you worked with the diving Little Tern. That would have given me another angle which would have been great, as long as my feet are dry.
I don’t think the Little Tern mind if you sit in the water as they most often have a route they use searching for prey. The same goes for the mash terns, even if I found the White-winged Tern to be a little shy. I think you easily can seat yourself at the edge of the reeds to get a better photo angle.
Mostly we stood up which mean we had the water as background. That doesn’t give you the best type of tern picture if you ask me. It is better to use the reed as background as it separates the bird from the background nicely. You can easily see that in some of the pictures in the photo album.
Enjoy this photo album from my third visit too Bulgaria.