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Greece/Bulgaria Trip 2024

What an amazing trip, it’s hard to explain, but definitely one of the best. Two amazing countries with a huge range of wildlife. The hardest thing, the packing. Photographing several subjects in different environments left a long lens list, with the 600mm f4 at the top of the list. I had never taken this lens abroad before, so booked this in it’s own cabin bag, just fitted within the weight & the size limits, just.

The trip had been arranged by two great friends who had offered me a place, having shot with them before & had a lovely trip, I couldn’t say no. Normally I have to find a reason, sales normally, but this one was kind of for myself. So a huge thanks to Lee & Shru for the invite.

The trip was to spend 3 days, 6 shoots at Lake Kerkini, North Greece photographing Dalmatian Pelicans. Then we would move on to a range of mountains in North Bulgaria in the hope of photographing, vultures, eagles & may be mammals. The last few days would be woodland birds & Nutcrackers? More to come on those.

Greece

We arrived in Greece, landed? More dropped.. Here we met Miro our guide for the whole trip, quick drop at the Hotel & straight off to the Lake for our first pelican encounter. We arrived & were straight onto a tradition style fishing boat, nice & low. Of course I had my monopod & SpeediGimbal ready to go, what bliss, being able to shot as low as 1/20th second was giving me some great results. Also being able to get level with the water, using wide angle lens was creating some stunning shots. We carried on photographing morning & evening for the next two days, capturing these fantastic birds in many different lights & angles, from shore & from boat. The rest of the day is normally spent downloading, washing, eating & going through images, I was also distracted by a Little Owl that would perch every lunch on the opposite roof & a pair of Kestrels that flew through my balcony arguing over most catches… too fast for me.

After our last morning shoot with the pelicans, then breakfast when we returned, it was time to move on to Bulgaria.

Bulgaria

We arrived at our next hotel, after dark, it had been a long drive. A quick meal & it was time to grab a quick shower, while getting gear charged & sorting cold weather gear. In the morning we were off higher up the mountain to photograph the vultures. We would need to be in the hide before sunrise, we were collected at 6, then headed up along the tracks. Wow, the driver was amazing, I would spend 30 mins of the drive suspending the 600mm while I tried to cushion the rocks. Never seen anything like it, cool bit of driving. We arrived to a very cosy hide with grass & rocks all around us, a good ridge all around with some stunning backgrounds once the light appeared. Then half a calf was dropped out the back of the transport & they were on their way.

We sat & waited as the light started to grow. First in were the crows, but in no time, the Vultures started to circle, then one by one they all dropped to the ground, over the days we would have groups of 80 at one time just hanging out. A fox did appear a couple of times but always had terrible timing, the first early morning just as the mist rolled in, the second, very similar & way too far off. The next two days were the highlight, this is when the Jackals made their visits, with a juvenile Sea Eagle making an appearance. So much action, such great light.

The last few days of the trip we started to head back towards Sofia where we would fly from, after the final shoot. But meanwhile we manged a day covering woodland birds, lots of action, finches, jays, woodpeckers & even a few minutes with a sparrowhawk looking for lunch.

The final shoot was up in the snow, early morning, the day we were flying… photographing Nutcrackers? Ok. So I Googled these, bird that looks like a starling but in snow. Now I wasn’t sure these would be of interest to me, but I’m here so why not. Miro drove us to the top, he had been an amazing guide, providing everything we needed, great food, great hotels, but also a wealth of knowledge about everything around us, so funny & a great entertainer.

We were soon there, the rally expert, then we grabbed our gear & headed off to a wooded area of the slope. Miro then made a hole with his fist & dropped some nuts in the hole, then like magic a few Nutcrackers appeared. They were just like Jays, but brown & grey, with black, then a starling on the front. Then the action started, these crackers were crazy, mid air fighting kicked off with flurries of snow everywhere. Where ever you looked there was action, we spent a good few hours with these very interesting birds. Some of the best shots from the trip..

A selection of images from the trip below, art pieces will be available from the site very soon..

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