събота, 31 май 2014 г.

Birdwatching and photography trip around Bulgaria and Greece: 24.05-2.06, day 6

Wallcreeper, Ring Ouzel, Nutcracker and overnight off-road drive from a bear hide. What a day!
We started with a morning walk around our hotel. The weather was rather overcast and drizzling now and then. Nevertheless we managed to get a few Rock Buntings, a Firecrest and a Common Treecreeper.

After some pancakes with home made raspberry jam we headed to the Wallcreeper place. It was a hightlight bird for the trip so we all wanted to see it. Shortly after our arrival at the spot someone shouted out 'There it is'. We pointed our cameras and waited for the right moment. The bird sat for about 10 min feeding and preening showing its lovely red wing. Then the bird came closer for another 10 min presenting us with lovely views and photography opportunities. It was nicely singing to announce its territory. Everyone in the group was impressed by the bird call which you don't hear often. In a couple of minutes the bird took off but soon it came back for another 10 min session. Our guests were happy with the results and we headed towards our next target bird - Nutcracker. The area also gives some opportunities for Pygmy Owl.

Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Wallcreeper photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
On our way we stopped for a quick coffee in an old picturesque village. Soon we we at our birding location. An adult Ring Ouzel was calmly feeding on a meadow presenting more opportunities for photographing it. Our guest wanted to see this bird which is a different race from the one in North Western Europe and it has more white on the belly.

We gained some height along the road and stopped at a layby with superb view over the valley. Nutcrackers are usually here. They stay high up in the mountains at their breeding time. Another Ring Ouzel was waiting for us at the layby. Shortly after that we had our first Nutcrackers. They were really wanted and I am glad we managed to get them. Couple of km further ahead a family of Nutcrackers turned up with 3 chicks. We also had Crossbills, more Ring Ouzels, and Firecrest. Couple of Siskinks and Bullfinches were also around. We did try for the Pygmy Owl but with no result. We had to go because we had booked a hide for bears and had to be on time at a meeting place where a guy with a 4x4 was going to meet and take us to the hide.

Nutcracker photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Nutcracker photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Nutcracker photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Nutcracker photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Nutcracker photography, copyright Iordan Hristov
Nutcracker photography, copyright Iordan Hristov

On the way down from the mountain top we had a Red Fox which has been rather shy and only showed its ears :) and a nicely marked Honey Buzzard.

Honey Buzzard, copyright Iordan Hristov
Honey Buzzard, copyright Iordan Hristov
Hour and a half later we were at the meeting point. A pick up with seats at the back stopped by. Packed our staff and changed vehicles to head to our hide. We stopped for a while by am old barn to get some corn for the bear and off we went along the track.

on our way to the bear watching hide

The driver was really skillful driving off the road. He definitely knew his way around. The vehicle performed really well. It was a Nissan Navara with the Mud terrain BF Goodrich tires. It was fantastic along the road with typical landscapes of open meadows and high pine trees.
We arrived at the hide full of enthusiasm. The food that has been provided has finished - a sign that animals have been around. We quickly went into the hide and set up all the gear.


Cameras were ready and the bear may come :) About three Jays turned up first followed by five Wood Pigeons. I started clicking on them for a surprise of our guests who were impressed how much time I spend on just Wood Pigeons. Well they are not regularly seen around.
 
Jay, copyright Iordan Hristov
Jay, copyright Iordan Hristov


In an couple of minutes/hours a Brown Hare came over for a short while. It came to the salt which our hosts have put in front of the hide. We got a few shots and off it went. Then the waiting started. 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours… time goes on and nothing happens. It was already dark and a shade moved in between the tree stumps. A Wild Boar! The animal was not very big animal. It wondered around for a while and off it went. We stayed for another hour or so when it started raining. This was the end of it. We decided to head home which going to be rather exciting with the pick up truck.

Our local driver and I went to take the car since we had left it behind couple of minutes walking away from the hide. It was already pretty wet and it was constantly raining. Not very heavily though. We successfully got on the car and then the adventure began. One of our guests and I sat at the back of the pick up with the rain coat on and all my gear. Rain drops were coming down my face. Wind was blowing the raindrops straight into us. The driver was going down the hill with quite a high speed and he would often go near the edge of a bend with no trees beyond. Nevertheless it was great to feel the “taste of rain”. It gave me some sort of energy and charm which I haven’t experienced. Going downhill in complete darkness, with rain and wind. It is unforgettable experience. It wasn’t cold anymore.

Soon we saw the first lights from the street lamps of the village. Most of the lights in the houses were already switched off. The village was asleep. We arrived and changed vehicle for another 40 minutes drive to our hotel. Not far from it there was this Roe Deer that has just given birth right in the middle of the road. It was still raining and the little calve was just struggling to get up. It was really fragile. We quickly drove passed it and let it in peace. It was time for some sleep.