A true bird photogrpaphy tour, aiming at low angle photography of wetland birds
Autumn Wetland Birds
Saturday 5th - Saturday 12th August 2017
Via Pontica is the second biggest bird migration route in Europe. The four big lakes around Burgas are its bottleneck and the birds concentrate here in their thousands to rest and feed before continue north. Others will breed, occupying their former territories and all that forms a very dynamic atmosphere which brings the emotion of photographing the true wildlife photography. Within this tour there is no bird feeding or any other kind of attracting them to us, neither a comfort nor not much is guaranteed, but all is knowledge, strategy and selection of the right places depending on the water level, a lot of patience and a bit of luck of course. What the true wildlife photography is. Something what you can hardly find nowadays, with over a thousand specially prepared hides for wildlife photography in Europe many photographers are now saying it all feels like in a zoo.
That is why we have designed that tour, it is for keen photographers ready to lie down on the ground before the sunrise and wait for the chance for the perfect low angle shot. It is everything or nothing. However, it is not going to be nothing, at all as there will be numerous birds around! Waders are everywhere - sandpipers, stints, stints, avocets, godwits, pratincoles, snipes etc; ducks, egrets and ibises, terns and passerines - wagtails of various races. All these will be in breeding plumage and we expect to get some of the more attractive European species - Curlew Sandpaiper, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincoles, also Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, Little Turn etc. with some luck we may get Marsh Sandpiper, Ruddy Shelduck etc.
Not only the species are attractive but we are also aiming in interesting action shot of their behavior - feeding, mating, etc, and as they are fresh and the background is clear, some excellent shots are to be taken. There will be plenty of options for backlit photography. To achieve all that we will be using the low angle technique - a difficult and tiring one, but the reward could be great. It means we will simply lay down on the ground, using an isomatic to provide some comfort, a bean bag for the gear and cammo net to cover ourselves. We will be using sites right at the edge of the wetlands, mainly saltpans where the birds congregate in numbers to feed and roost. It needs to be early in the morning - 5 am and we will be at the site till 10 am or so when the light is getting harsh. Siesta will follow, then an evening session again. In case of overcast weather we may continue but it is a tiring job so siesta is best to have in the middle. You need to be physically and mentally prepared to lay down for a number of hours, at least 3 or 4 hours.
There are two reasons for it - it is the only way to get level with the bird, the perfect angle for the subject and in the same time it gives you perfectly blurred unicolored background. The other reasons is that using proper hides it simply does not work - first it gives you a different angle and pictures will be nothing like it, second, as the wetlands and the salt pans are large open water bodies without any obstacles and objects a single hide, standing up always make the birds warry and they avoid it, keeping quite a distance. Shortly, the low angle photography is one of the last not developed ways of photographing the birds in Europe, simply because it is not easy, it is difficult, not predictable and needs efforts. The golden hours are between 6 and 8 am and between 6 and 8.30 pm. In the morning we need to be there earlier however, before the birds so when they arrive, we will be already there which makes it easier to be accepted. We will of course be using and doom hides and tripods for sites where tersn etc feed so this can not only take off the pressure and make it a bit more relaxing but also provide opportunities for other species - Penduline Tit, pelicans, Pigmy Cormorant.
Day 1 Arrival at Burgas airport and short transfer to the hotel, our only base for the tour. Time providing we will visit some of the sites in order to become familiar with the area. Accommodation for 7 nights and dinner, afterwards we will be discussing the plan for the next days and our leaders will tell you what they think will be the best strategy. The hotel is perfectly situated, between Pomorie lake and the Black Sea.
Days 2 to 7 Same routine with early starts and late sessions, with siesta in the middle of the day. Dinner will be before 5 or after 9 pm. We will be working in all the Burgas wetlands - the four big lakes and few small wetlands around them. Depends on the water levels we will be visiting some of the sites more often than others. The group size will be 2 or 3 photographers with one leader and in case of 4 to 6 we will split into 2 groups with 2 leaders. This is the maximum number as more than three photographers at the site make it complicated for the leaders to manage, as the space at some of the sites is limited plus more photographers will scare the birds away easier. Additionally, everybody will have more or less different pictures as even the smallest angle gives a different perspective. Even some of the best hides in Europe has been blamed for providing identical photos for numerous photographers.
Day 8 Last morning session followed by siesta and transfer to the airport for your return flight.
Equipment: Lenses of 300 mm and more, even 800 mm is fine. Convertors will be handy, plus enough batteries. Tripod is must.