The timing of a photo-journey can be very crucial. I have seen that again on my latest trip. For Tierra Photo Tours I wanted to visit Bulgaria and Greece and meet some local people. Of course I wanted to combine that with some photography in these countries I had never been before. After two weeks of fun I can only blame myself to have waited so long in exploring these great places!
Well, I had set a period for this trip earlier in the winter, with the hope of also to have some chances with the amazing Red-Breasted Geese, that winters along the coast of the Black sea. Almost the whole world population, that are rapidly decreasing and becoming a threatened species, are staying in one area in Bulgaria, at Durankulak and Shabla region close to the border of Romania.
But when I got closer to my departure date, it soon was obvious no geese had arrived yet in Bulgaria because of the warm winter at that time. So I had already prepared alternative plans with my local guides Miro and Emil, from Cometobg, and was already looking forward to that! But at the time I actually travelled to Bulgaria, the geese decided to start travelling too! During my first days in Bulgaria numbers of Red-Breasted geese quickly rised, but also the snow (and wind) decided to arrive massively. Because of that many roads were blocked and it was impossible to travel trough the country, without the risk of getting stuck all the time and loose lots of good time. Every day was very exciting to see how the weather evolved, but we managed to keep us very busy, despite of the troubles caused by the weather. We had lots of good times at the Kerkini Lake in Greece with the Dalmatian pelicans (more about that later!), at a very nice winter feeding station for small birds (with an amazing species list of 25 and with some of them in very high numbers), at the Golden eagle station in the mountains, at a roosting site with Long-eared owls, stunning landscapes,…
During those days we received lots of news about the geese at the other side of the country, but my departure date was also getting closer…I realized I couldn’t go home yet, and when I saw on the local TV that roads were starting to get open again, I took the chance and booked a later return-flight. And that was a good decision! When we finally arrived at the Black Sea coast the geese were awaiting us…just at the side of the road! Researchers, birdwatchers and local photographers hadn’t seen this spectacle before! We managed to photograph the geese at a stunning 10 meter distance just sitting on the side the road! Even the White fronted geese didn’t seem to mind, and just grazed in front of us, with no hide canvas, car, bush,…between us. Very strange experience! But this is how it should be, what a great time that was! When we heard locals saying that many foreign photographers tried to photograph the geese before but without any luck, we knew we were very fortunate with these conditions. The reasons why the geese were so calm and accepted our presence at this distance are not clear, some say it was because they had arrived just after the hunting season and were not stressed, or they needed the cover from the road to get out of the wind,…We also managed to photograph the daily flights to the Black Sea to drink and wash. Normally they do this too far away from the shore, but now they splashed in the water just in front of us!
Anyhow, this was also the unique chance to catch some geese to put a satellite transmitter on. So we witnessed the first Red-Breasted goose ever wearing a GPS, and will hopefully provide us with lots of data and will reach his breeding grounds in Taimyr…where I hopefully will arrive too one day, at the right time that is!
Thanks for the great company John, Miro and Emil!