Birds and wildlife photography along the Danube river

Rollers and Bee-eaters

Saturday 16th - Saturday 23rd May 2020

This bird and wildlife photography tour is focused on two of the most colorful European birds - the Roller and the Bee-eater. It coincides with the period when the birds will be forming the pairs, so we expect a lot of activities - courtship, mating, food transfer, nest preparation etc. Our tour is designed for keen photographers who want to spend more time with their subject and get the maximum of it, rather than chasing bigger numbers of species.
Belene is small town based on Danube River in the central-north of Bulgarian. We will start our tour here with four nights in a small hotel with beautiful view to the river from your balcony, swimming pool and tasty food. Twenty minutes driving from it is a vertical loess wall, where a large Bee-eater colony and few pairs of Rollers are breeding.
The whole area is also good for species as Little Owl, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Golden Oriole, Syrian Woodpecker and Black-headed Bunting and they occur in good number. We shall use canvas hides at the water edge to take photos of Whiskered Terns, Black-winged Stilt, Garganey, herons and egrets etc.
Further east is Vetren in a small village in north-east Bulgaria, again at the Danube River.  The small, family run hotel is close to our main sites for photography - vertical loess wall, which is an excellent nesting area again for our both target species and here we will take photos from different perspective. There are two wooden hides suitable both for morning and evening sessions.
The whole area is also good for species as Hoopoe, Little Owl, Red-backed Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Black-headed and Corn Buntings, Kingfisher and many more. There are also many pairs of Golden Orioles in the area and if suitable nest is found we will take advantage of it. Golden Jackal is numerous too and we can spend time with it, again from a very good hide. Right next to Vetren is Srebarna Lake Nature reserve - a UNESCO heritage site, with large number of wetland birds. Here we can photograph Penduline Tit, Little Bitterns, Squacco Heron, possible terns, grebes, ducks and many more.
Also nearby there is big colony of Souslicks – the European ground squirrels. These cute rodents are not so shy and we can take pictures from a close distances. Near to the pasture, there is a fountain where many birds come to drink and take a bath – Turtle Dove, larks, Black-headed and Corn buntings, Black-headed  Yellow Wagtail, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker;  swallows and martins collect mud.
Overall, beside the main targets, we shall have plenty of opportunities for memorable photos and moments.


Day 1    Arrival at Henri Coanda airport - Romania followed by three hours transfer that bring us to town of Belene, where we stay four nights. Arrival at Sofia airport is also an option. Depends on the arrival time we can make a short walk before dinner to get familiar with the area. At the dinner table we can discus over the plan for next days and talk about the various opportunities we have.

Days 2 to 4  We will start with our main target species - bee-eaters and rollers, best light for photography is between 06:00 and 10:00 in the morning and between 17:00- 20:00 in afternoon, so we can turn back to hotel for lunch and have a short siesta before afternoon sessions. Once we have enough good pictures we shall take advantage of the other opportunities - Lesser Gray and Red-backed Shrikes, Golden Oriole and other farmland and wetland birds.

Day 5 Morning session in the area and option to organize a short trip to a near island with marshes where we have the chance to observe and photograph Red-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron and many more. After lunch we will pack luggage and drive to Vetren village. Transfer is thee hours, accommodation for three nights and dinner.

Days 6 and 7 These two days we will use two wooden hides for Bee-eaters, Rollers and Golden Jackal. The light and bird activity are the best for the morning session. There are possibilities for afternoon sessions around Srebarna Lake - a perfect place for wetland birds. It is your choice and we can choose camouflage hides or walking for some hand shots, because the area is a good for Bitterns, Squacco Herons, egrets, swans, Ferruginous Duck, Pygmy Cormorants, grebes, Penduline Tits, Great Reed Warbler and more! Good opportunity for one afternoon session is the Suslick colony. These two days we will catch up with species we might have missed, including passerines like Red-backed Shire, Lesser Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting, Hoopoe, and Syrian Woodpecker.

Day 8   Breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight back home. Departure.

Photo Equipment:

Lenses: Best combination for roller and beeeaters are 300, 400, 500mm lenses on full frame or crop cameras. At the wetlands any lens from 300 to 800mm is good.

1.4x , 1.7x, 2x teleconverters are very useful

At least one extra battery

Memory Cards:
Extra memory cards
You will need Tripods
Back up lens and camera
Lens Raincoat if you have

What to bring with you:
Spring is always unpredictable; usually we expect warm and sunny weather, but is good to have with you:
Waterproof shoes
Waterproof jacket
Warm clothes
Repellents - very necessary
Sun hats
Sun protection cream