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Photographing vultures in Bulgaria

Posted Friday 10th October 2014 at 11:36 by dancho_hristov
Updated Monday 2nd February 2015 at 15:59 by dancho_hristov
Birds of prey are difficult to photograph. They are really smart and wouldn’t allow someone getting into the hide under their sight. That’s why we had to get up early and sneak into the hide in the dark. To avoid the early start we decided to spend the night in the vicinity of one of the vulture photography hides in the Eastern Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. This reduced the time for traveling and we had an hour extra sleep in the morning before the photography session.The evening before the photography session was superb. We had a late dinner at the Vulture conservation centre managed by the Bulgarian Society for the Photography of birds / BirdLife Bulgaria and then traveled for about an hour to the vulture photography hide. We put up a tent in the area and had a drink under the moonlight with the smell of wild flowers and herbs. Accompanied by the sound of crickets we sneaked into the sleeping bags. On the next morning the alarm went on at 5,00 a.m. Full of enthusiasm we grabbed the gear and off we went into the hide. It was still totally dark. Shortly after that, the light began to change. The Sun was rising. What a blessing…



Birds were still not singing but with the rising sun the first one to call was a Robin, then Sombre Tit, Green Woodpecker, Jays, Ravens and here they are… The first Egyptian Vultures landed in front of us within half an hour from the entry into the hide.

It was time for the “Golden hour”… Superb back-light was outlining the marvelous feathers on the head of the birds. The colours of the grass were creating more contrast with the object making it to stand out in the picture. Have a look at these Egyptian vulture images





Two birds stayed for half an hour or so when something flushed them. They didn’t appear for the next two hours when the light was already gone. However, we were waiting for the Griffon Vultures to land. No luck though. There were 20 or so birds on the cliff adjacent to the feeding site but at about 10,30 all of them took off to unknown direction. We decided to give them some time since we weren’t quite sure what was going on. After a couple of hours waiting we gave up. It was already 14,30 and although the September light was getting better the birds were not going to come back. so we left. It was time for relaxing.

On the next morning we intended to give it another try but the heads felt too heavy and turned off the alarm that wanted to wake us up at 4.00 a.m. We got up at 9.00 and decided to do some birdwatching instead. We grabbed some sandwiches and had a superb breakfast right under the cliffs where vultures roost.



At breakfast time we did some birdwatching and ticked Rock Bunting, Rock Nuthatch, Blue Rock Thrush, Peregrine Falcon, Black Storks, Kingfisher, Crag Martins, Lesser spotted Woodpecker and a few other good birds. After breakfast we had a walk in the area exploring it for some landscape photos along Arda River.

We didn't realise it was time to go home. Anyway, it was a superb morning and weekend.

See more of my birding stories and images on my nature monitoring and wildlife photography blog here: http://naturemonitoring.com/
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