петък, 28 февруари 2014 г.

Photography and bird survey trip

Photography or should I say non photography trip started rather early this time. I wanted to go to a site about 1,5 hours drive from home and then another 1,5 hours climbing up the mountains. Since I wanted to be in the hide before first light which means 6.30 a.m., I needed to wake up at 3 a.m. This is perhaps the earliest start I have ever had for birds. I have been up at 4 a.m. but at 3, never.

It wasn't that hard in the beginning. Had a nice coffee and it kept me awake while driving along the mountainous roads. During the hike I didn't really needed coffee. There was some really thick mist with about 50 m visibility which made driving a bit of an excitement. I nearly missed the layby.

I arrived at the beginning of the mountain track shortly after 5 a.m. It was - 5 degrees C. I dressed up well, got all my gear and off I went. Along the mountain track two Tawny Owls scared the hell out of me in the pitch dark. Two more were calling further along. Their breeding time approaches so they are keen to announce their territories :).

I arrived at the hide just as planned. 6.30 a.m.The first day light was already coming through so it was time to go in. It is on the top of a hillside above the treeline in one of Bulgaria's national parks. The hide is meant to be used for photographing birds like Golden Eagle, Goshawks, Ravens and Red Fox. That's what attracted me. Rather cosy place with wood coating inside and rocks from outside making it look as a typical habitat feature. There is even a small foae and a chemical toilet for the long photography days. Well there has been a few photography sessions here.

The first birds that started singing were Wood Larks. Their lovely fluty song is sooo pleasant and tuning.

The first Raven called at 6.51. Still not enough light for a good shot but the bird didn't land anyway.

Sun started to light up my perches shortly after 7. Now birds can land. I am ready and light is good.

Landscape photography in Bulgaria
Landscapes in Bulgaria © Iordan Hristov
At 9.27 nothing has landed so far. A Roe Deer call came from the valley bellow which made me think about it coming up here. But why would it? The bait was not for it :)

At about 8.30 an interesting call came from outside. It reminded me of my initial intention to come and explore this area. It was not that much to photograph something but to see a Rock Partridge. The bird call was a Partridge indeed but it was Grey, not the one I was after.

Landscape photography in Bulgaria
Landscapes in Bulgaria © Iordan Hristov
9.35 A strong wind came out and it became rather cold regardless of the sunny weather. This makes the waiting a bit more challenging but see what happens. I plan to stay until lunchtime and then go to do a few other things I wanted to do in the area.

10.30 bits of excitement: one Raven flied quite low over the bait. No. It didn't land. It needs some more time.
11.00 nothing in front. A distant Wood Lark sings actively. Catching up with emails...
12.00 still nothing. Well I think it is time to go.

Packed my stuff and off I went. It was beautiful sunshine out there which warmed me up a little bit. There was no sign of any bird in the area which explains their behaviour. I started descended from the hillside towards the village nearby where I wanted to check some areas for White backed Woodpecker and book a hotel.
Landscape photography in Bulgaria
Landscapes in Bulgaria © Iordan Hristov
Along the track several birds made my day. Couple of Goldcrests were singing here and there. A very pleasant surprise was a Sombre Tit which was actively announcing its territory. But the highlight was a male Goshawk dashed between some trees chasing the birds around.

In the rest of the day I didn't have much luck either. Didn't find any woodpecker but a Great spot. At another location I found three more Sombre Tit Parus lugubris which were chasing each other. The hormones are playing their role :)

After enjoying a lovely view to some cliffs I headed towards home. Not much luck today but this is why surveys are important. Not just to find the birds, but to see where birds are missing. So I would say it was a very useful day.