Photographic holiday focused on the Capercaillie.

Just Capercaillies

Sunday 19th - Saturday 25th April 2020

Capercaillies - impressive in size and stature, admirable behavior during courtship, aggression and all set in the magical atmosphere of the Rila Mountain! Unfortunately this gorgeous bird is one of the most wanted hunting trophies in Bulgaria. Nature conservation bodies are working hard to stop this and restore the population, but the process is still in its very early stages. Ecotourism can help bring this cause to a wider audience. Shooting with cameras in place of shooting with guns, not only preserves the future of Capercaillie, the resulting trophy photos or films can show the world through social media how fabulous The King of the Forest is.
High up on the Rila Mountain is an area with a good population of Capercaillie. For a number of years it has been carefully observed and studied by a local ranger and as a result a number of males have become very approachable and photographed without the use of hides. If this isn't temptation enough, on this tour there is also no need to be woken in the middle of the night to go on a long walk in the dark for a long session seated in a hide.
Our journey begins with a one-hour transfer from Sofia Airport to the northern slopes of Rila Mountain. We will arrive at the location of the Capercaillies in about another hour of off road drive. Our accommodation is a mountain hut (about 2,000 meters a.s.l.), with simple facilities but you will get to experience the tranquility and full sense of the mountain. There is electricity and water and some improvements are on the way. But there are also other, better options to stay in the area, although a bit more distant. While photographing the Capercaillies we will plan our day for the best photographic results, according to weather conditions, light and activity of birds. The birds are not afraid of people and tolerate our presence. This helps us tremendously, allowing us to move about, to choose the best backgrounds, even to lie on the ground to separate the background using low angle techniques. There can be several males in the area and our search for them will consist of short treks around the hut - not more than 1-2 km. When a displaying bird is found there will also be further males very close nearby.
Their choice of habitat is wide - some prefer shady coniferous forests, others - open areas and periphery. So we will be able to photograph them in a variety of situations. They are active from October to May, with a peak of activity during April - May. This is also the easier period to detect them and has the most favorable weather conditions. Other attractive species found in the area are the Nutcracker, Crossbill, Three-toed and Black Woodpeckers and Pygmy Owl - but photographing them needs a bit of luck. Mammals in the area are represented by Chamois, Brown Bear and the Wolf.

Equipments: The best equipment for photographing Capercaillies is a digital camera with lenses in the range of 300 f/2.8, even 70-200 f/2.0. When we photograph in the forest, we will be under poor light and then we will definitely need such equipment. The distance to the birds is not problem, they are not afraid of people, but we will need relatively long optics, to keep a reasonable distance from them, so 400 mm lens will do too. We must carefully pack our backpacks and equipment, so that they are relatively light and safe during the walk. You will also need a lens coat or raincoat for the optics (if it snows or rains, the equipment needs to be protected); Lightweight tripods (there is no need for tripods for the Capercaillies, but they could be of use for photographing other species).

Clothes and boots: warm clothes are must, as well as proper boots. Sunglasses when necessary to protect from the glare of the snow.

This is a tailor made tour, suitable for up to 4 photographers and it can be run in the period during October - May. There are set dates above, however we can run it in any other time within the given period. The costs of this photo tour depend on the number of the photographers and the type of accommodation we will be using. To give you the best chance of spending quality time with these fantastic birds, we suggest that you stay for 3 - 5 days.


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