In june I spent two weeks in France photographing birds from the floating hide. Thanks to my friend Sylvain Hellio I was able to guide two groups in the lake-rich area Les Dombes. Sylvain arranged permission to enter the lakes with the floating hide. These articial lakes are managed to breed Carp fish since the Middle Ages, and are now also rich in birdlife. Several species of grebes, herons, ducks, waders,…but it was mainly the Great crested grebe that drew my attention, so I worked mainly on this bird.
Although it’s a very common bird in Belgium and Europe, it’s quite challenging to find these grebes in a nice surrounding on a lake that is not too deep to work with a floating hide, not too windy, not too big or too small, and most of all, with birds that are not too shy.
Thanks to the floating hide it is possible to move around according to the light situations and backgrounds. With the floating hide you can also easily choose your distance to the birds, so it’s completely different than working from a fixed hide. It’s often harder work (muddy grounds, very slow walking or floating speed, sticky vegetation, hungry leeches, …) but you get an unlimited artistic freedom instead. And since the birds are very used to the floating hide, conditions couldn’t be better!
During two weeks I spent every morning and evening and some noons from the floating hide, so I must have spent almost 150 hours in the water, and got to see very nice scenes and often very close up! It was a joy to follow the same birds time after time and to see evolutions in their nest-building, growing chicks, or moulting.
First pictures are a small selection from almost 10.000 pictures I took only from the Great crested grebes! Pictures are taken with D4s, D800E, D7100 and 600mm F4, from a beanbag in my floating hide.
Next blog will be some other birdspecies I encountered.