Hides and equipment
Wolves and Golden eagles hide
This is our newest and most luxury hide. The photographic part is very comfortable, all with wooden cladding and has the following dimensions 4 by 4 meters and is 2 meters high. There is also a small service area we use for kitchen and separate toilet. There are 3 beds in total, furnitures, wood and stove heaters and all you need for your cosy stay inside. For up to 4 photographers, the hide is designed with huge mirror-glass windows for perfect view, which makes observation of the area easy and helps photographers for quick reactions. Photography is possible through the glass or directly. Hide is located in territory of Ponor Mountain, part of the West Balkan, and is just one hour drive from the capital Sofia, than about 30 min (depends of snow and weather conditions ) off road drive from the hotel we use in the area, no need to walk, because jeep stops 10 meters from the front door of the hide. Best months are November to early March for the eagles – we have adult and young birds almost everyday. Other species are raven, and sometimes buzzards, kestrel and occasionally passerines. There is also a Weasel living in front of the hide. Distance is between 26 to 36 meters from bird landing spots. Wolves have active and quite periods during the seasons, their unpredictable behavior makes it difficult to guarantee a success but so far it seems the best periods are September-October and March – May. So far we have recorded between 1 and 4 wolves in front of the hide, but reading the tracks we know there were up to 12 wolves in the immediate surroundings.
Full frame cameras with high "frame per second" rate are the best
1.4 x, 1.7 x, 2 x are always useful
Back up camera and lens
Extra memory cards and battery
Heads and tripods:
You need only you camera head , best one is ‘L’ shape if you have this one will be perfect. We have special prepared camera head mount bases.
Raincoats: for your lens (if you have)
Binocular: if you like to observe area - this is possible from inside
What to bring with us:
slippers (if you prefer yours)
if you need some special medicine is good to have it with you
Golden eagles stone hide – that is our first permanent hide we built up back in 2004 and initially it was for two photographers. Last October however we have rebuild it and now it can accommodate 4 photographers and has a smal, separate toilet.
The main target here are the Golden Eagles and the background is just perfect – a distant mountain ridge that change its color depends on the season. It is situated in the center of the breeding territory of the local Golden Eagle pair and beside the adults, there are normally juveniles and immature birds visiting the baits. Other species here can be Raven, Goshawk and all the three species of buzzards. Smaller birds, such as Jay, Mistle Thrush, Black Redstart and Great Grey Shrike are also possible and we even have had a visit by a Nutcracker! The hide is reached in about 45 minutes drive from the hotel we use in the area, after which we have about 100 walk to get into it. Best months are November to early March. Some of the best shots on Golden Eagles taken on our tours are made of this hide. Distance to the birds is 26 to 35 meters.
Forest Hide ( Drinking Pond and Bird Feeder Hide)
Situated in a small mixed forest along the Maritsa River, 10 km from the town of Dimitrovgrad, the area is rich in biodiversity and a habitat for many types of birds. The hide is for a maximum of 3 photographers. Parameters: 2.4 m length, 1.8m width and 1.7 height. The monitoring of the area is through a dug in a meter into the ground panoramic window with a perfect view, positioned above the loopholes for the cameras, that allows excellent visibility. Its main features are a rack and a bird feeder; there is also a bird pool - 5 meters length to 1.8m width and 10 cm depth. The positioning is northeast and based on the season the sunrise light comes from a different direction. It is positioned in a way that allows you to have the best light you need for photographing the birds during the entire day, with the direct light coming from behind. The usual distance from the birds that land is give or take 7 meters (to the end of the rack, where they often prefer to bathe and drink water from, leaving on the surface perfect reflections, desired by many wildlife photographers.) It is decorated with various types of branches near the feeders, so photographers can have the opportunity to take pictures with different backgrounds and landing points.
The transfer to the hide is very easy - it is available all year round and the vehicle we arrive with can be leaved at about 100 meters from there. It is warm and cold-proof, and during the cold months the warmth inside is provided by a gas heater.
- There is always something to take a picture of and you can easily observe at least 12-15 types of birds in 2-3 days
- Relatively peaceful area with almost no distractions
- The photographing is through loopholes, which will give you the benefit of not losing the sharpness and the aperture of the lenses
- The monitoring of the area is through a panoramic window
- If 3 photographers use the hide at the same time, the room could be a bit tight-spaced
- The panoramic window is placed a bit higher because of the loopholes
- Sometimes a sudden movement of the lens might scare the birds off, because they land really close to you
(Nevertheless, we chose not to put a glass on because of possible condensation and loss of quality of the frames)
Most appropriate lenses vary. For small songbirds such as tits, nightingales, Robin-400-500 mm lenses. For larger, as woodpeckers, doves , hawks - 300 mm lens.
The most suitable lenses :
200-400 200-400 + 1.4x bild in converter
300mm f2.8 with 1.4 and 2x converter
400mm f2.8 with 1.4 and 2x converter
500mm f4 with 1.4x converter
No need tripods,just heads,it will be good if you have “L” shape head for tele lens ! They mounts on specially made basics that make handling the camera and lens in hiding more comfortable.
List of species :
1.Great Tit - all seasons
2.Blue Tit - all seasons
3.Sombre tit - autumn and winter
4.Willow tit - autumn and winter
5.Blackbird - all seasons
6.Song Thrush - all seasons
7.Redwing - winter
8.Hawfinch - all seasons
9.Goldfinch - late autumn and winter
10.European Greenfinch - all seasons
11.Common Chaffinch - all seasons
12.Eurasian Siskin - late autumn and winter
13.Common Nightingale - spring and summer
14.Semi-collared flycatcher- spring
15.Common chiffchaff - spring and summer
16.Eurasian Blackcap - spring and summer
17.European Robin - all seasons
18.Great Spotted Woodpecker - all seasons
19.Syrian Woodpecker - all seasons
20.European Green Woodpecker - spring , summer , autumn
21.Red-backed Shrike - spring and summer
22.Masked Shrike - spring and summer
23.European Jay - all seasons
24.Levant Sparrowhawk - spring and summer
25.Sparrowhawk - late autumn
26.European Turtle Dove- spring, summer ,autumn
27.Wood pigeon autumn
28.European scoops owl ( late in the evening ) - spring and summer
29.Hoopoe (rare cases) spring and summer
30.Eurasian Golden Oriole ( rare cases) spring and summer
31. Yellowhammer - autumn and winter
Golden eagles wooden hides – these are actually three wooden hides in a territory of another Golden Eagle pair. They are for 1, 2 or 3 photographers and are within 25 to 30 min drive from the nearest hotel. Walking is from 10 min to the three men hide, but it is about 30 min to reach the other two. Distance is 35 to 22 meters. Other birds are Common Buzzard, Raven, possibly Goshawk, while Jay, thrushes and smaller passerines are often visiting the area front of the hides.
Goshawk hide – this hide is also a wooden one, for 3 or 4 photographers and it is about 50 minutes drive from the accommodation and 150 meters easy walk. The main target here is the local pair of Goshawks which between November and mid-February visit the baits virtually every day. Golden Eagles also come to feed but not every day, as well as Common Buzzard and rarely ravens. We even have had a visit by the local pair of Black Woodpeckers. Distance varies and is between 20 and 30 meters and the birds can perch on the stones or dry branch we have provided them.
Hawfinch hide – that is a new hide, actually build up in the backyard of my grandmother house. It is in a small village, really a beautiful area where I have actually started my birdwatching and wildlife experience when I was 11 years old, some 25 years ago. So far we have used blinds in the garden but recently I have put up a simple wooden hide and also a small pond as this will allow photographing many species in the summer too – including Rock Bunting, Red-rumped Swallow, Black Redstart and (I hope) Golden Oriole etc.
The main season here however is the winter so far and it starts in October and continues until the end of March. Main species here is the Hawfinch as single birds or a flock up to 50 birds present daily in the garden during the cold winter months. Photographing Hawfinches is a real challenge as despite they spend a great deal of time in front of you they move extremely fast when they land, take off and fight between each other or chasing the other species away. Other species are woodpeckers – Grey-headed, Syrian and Great Spotted, sometimes we also have Green, Lesser Spotted and once there was a Middle Spotted. Sombre Tit, Brambling, Tree Sparrow, Jay are also daily at the feeders during the winter – up to 22 species in a single day is the biggest number I have recorded. It is for three photographers and of course can be reached by car. It is very close to the Golden Eagles wooden hides, so we combine them very often.
Garden birds hide – that is another garden hide which is run by a friend and it is in the same area as the Goshawk hide, so we use it very often. Many of our clients have stated that that is the best hide they have even been to, in terms of convenience and comfort. It is also very good for bird photography both in summer and winter – over 50 species are photographed in front of the hide so far – Middle Spotted, Syrian, Great Spotted woodpeckers, Hawfinch, Sombre Tit, Nightingale, Brambling, Fieldfare, Jay, Sparrowhawk, and many more. It is for 3 people and can be reached by car.
Buzzard hide – a hide for buzzards, ravens and possibly harriers in the winter. It is for three photographers and the distance to the birds is 20 to 25 meters. It can be reached by car and the last 200 meters need a walk, but on flat and easy ground. It is about 2 km away from the Garden birds hide, so we often combine them.
Drinking pool hide – a specially build hide in front of drinking pool. The surrounding area is a quite dry one and in the hot spring months (May, June and July) it is visited by most of the birds that breed in the area. The total number of species recorded at the drinking pool is over 35 species and in 2 consecutive days we have managed to photograph 23 species of birds. Species include Black-headed, Ortolan, Cirl and Corn buntings, Calandra, Crested and Short-toed larks, Red-rumped and Barn swallows, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike, Isabelline and Northern wheatears, Barred Warbler, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Spanish Sparrow, finches etc. Golden Oriole, Stone Curlew and Rosy Starlings are rare visitors too. The hide can accommodate 5 photographers and can be reached by car, some 25 min of driving from the nearest hotel.
Geese hide – that is a hide for two photographers specially build for Red-breasted geese photography – one of the most difficult species to photograph on the mainland Europe. It is for two people, and depends on the weather it requires walking.
Portable hides – we have more than 10 portable hides – single and double chair hides, doom hides and 3D ponchos, so where needed we use the those types that are most suitable for the terrain, weather conditions and the particular species.
Accessories – we also have different chairs for our portable hides, foot heaters that are very useful during the winter months, bean bags, head lights, torches etc, as well as good picnic equipment.
Vehicles – Wild Echo owns two vehicles:
Mitsubishi L 200, pickup, made in 2008, 4 doors and air condition, an excellent 4WD that can bring you nearly everywhere. We use it mainly on our photo tours and it is for 1 driver/leader and 3 photographers, and the boot is large enough for all the necessary equipment.
Opel Vivaro – a 9-seater van that we use for our photo tours when the tour is fully booked which means not more than 5 clients.