Rules for VULTURES HIDE Photography

A little bit more SOUTH from Dobruja
In Eastern Rhodope Mountains are VULTURES and EAGLES
And there is a HIDE
But there are some RULES to follow
This is the way to a successful Photo Tour

Photographing from a hide is not so easy as it seems at first glance. It’s not something like you stay in in the hide and all birds are coming in front of you, happy to be stars. Not at all.

Will play by the following rules of shooting in hide-sites in Bulgaria in the Rhodope Mountains, to vultures, eagles, foxes, jackals or the big prize, the WOLF.

If you don’t want just stay in hide for nothing, you have to respect some basic rules:

To the hide is not making noise. Here, your main enemy is the phone. Often, photographers in hide, refuse to realize that the sound of the phone, even vibration or “bing-s” are perceived by birds from great distances and they are even frightened by sounds that can not locate. Chatted between photographers is done only in a low voice, without sobbing, laughter without sound, no slamming chairs, plates clattering, knocking on windows. You must understand very clearly that if one man violates these rules, chances are destroyed for everyone to take a photo. You must understand very clearly that birds and animals perceive sounds and vibrations which we, humans, do not heed. I saw eagles taking flight and panic when a photographer snapped a pack of crackers.

In hide do not smoke. NOT AT ALL. The smell of burned tobacco smoke, will be perceived by animals long before you see them. If you want to photograph jackal or wolf, to have the opportunity to see them even, then smoking is strictly forbidden. Not to mention the fact that the windows and door’s hide DO NOT OPEN during day.

To the hide is entering / leaving only at night, in the dark. It’s a very strict rule. Eagles and vultures sit on cliffs around the place where the hide is built. If they see people there, they will not come there for days. It happens often that photography geniuses claims to arrange more branches that want to eagles sit or consider some stone in the frame inappropriate and they exit from hide to redecorate surroundings.

I know it is strange to use the toilet in a 9 square meters hide separated from other photographers by a simple curtain but these are the conditions that you accept when you register, you can not change your mind on the spot.

BEWARE! Those who violate this rule and leave the hide during the day, will not enter in the hide for the days left in the photo tour. You can not exit from hide during the day. Knowingly destroying any chances of photography for the entire group, can not be tolerated.

If you do not wake up in the morning time, no one will lead you to hide during the day. The day you’ll not wake up on time, you’ll stay at the hotel.

The moves are another enemy of the photographers on the hide. Hide windows are covered with blankets with a hole only for lens to be get out. Through holes only marginally hood (max 2cm) will get out. It will not help you to get all the lens outside the window and start moving it in pursuit of birds. You will have nothing to shoot anymore. A great temptation for photographers is to shoot everything that moves, quickly, the birds on the left, on the right, those in flight. These large and sudden movements shall scare any wild creature. For a good success rate you must allow birds to land and feel confident, then move the lens VERY EASY in search of subjects.

Heat – In the hide is possible using heating radiators on gas. Their purpose is not to make 25 degrees inside the hide but more to “sweeten” a little bit the temperatures. If the difference of the temperature inside will be much more then outside, waves of hot air will be in front of the windows (remember the blanket covering the windows?) all the birds and animals will see / feel it and will not come. We can turn on the heat to raise the temperature from zero to 5 degrees but in no case to stay in a shirt (of course, only in winter).

Clothes / Shoes – A common cause of noises in the hide is the inability of some participants to understand what “well dressed / boots” means. Mountain boots are not necessarily a good choice, Are designed to walk with them, not to stand still. Boots like “Canada Boots” are a good choice for this (in) activity. People with frozen feet tend to bounce through the hide, beating the feet (rumbles like elephants) do anything to warm. Anyway, with frozen feet they are no longer in the mood for photography. You can easily take some slippers, 5 numbers larger, and ware two pairs of thick wool socks.

The same happens with clothing. Even if the hide looks like a house, is not tinsulated at all. Standing still for 10 hours can make freeze even a penguin. Take your good clothes! Insulating clothing. 2-3 fleece over a thermal shirt and a jacket can save your day. It is very helpful also a sleeping bag. You can sit in it while shooting and keep your body temperature, especially for feet.

Food and drinks – rustling packages, open it right in front of open windows sounds like an alarm for birds, even at big distances. Sodas swishing alert and scare the birds. Do not bring beer cans (actually it is very advisable to avoid alcohol) or juice, rustle bags etc. It is best to organize food in the morning, at the hotel and to cut the packages, moving products in soft plastic boxes, which are not noiseble. You can also use a gas stove (a small one) to make a soup or tea without strumming too much the pans, metal cups, even the spoons use it to stir the sugar into the cup can be heard from far away.

Switching on the lights. It is another huge mistake of our participants, especially at the first day, decisive day for what lies ahead. They enter in hide (on dark) and turn oh flashlights, phones etc to organize and pat photo equipment. Natural order of things in this case is: You enter in the hide, sit on a chair and wait for an hour until dawn light and then you fit your equipment. Anyway, you will not take pictures in the dark.

You should be aware that on the cliffs around you are about 200 birds, vultures and eagles that nest or rest on the cliff , with eyes fixed on that plateau which means food source. Any unusual movement, flashes of light, noise or vibration will be noticed and will alert birds. You will be there for three days, they have at their disposal the whole year to come and eat. Yes, they are all around you, even if you do not see the, they see everything.

An usual day in hide looks like this:

In the morning, an hour before light (long before sunrise) you’ll go by off-road vehicles to hide. Entry into the hide is in the greatest silence, with no doors slamming, no facebook pictures with flash (it’s night, right?), without talking much. The first minute you will not see anything inside, it’s dark and your eyes are accustomed to the light from the car’s headlights. You have to wait until your eyes get used to the darkness and then you will see the luggage shelf where you can put the backpacks with equipment and food, the chairs on which you’ll stay. Now you can start to set your tripod and cameras, respecting all the points above.

Even before sunrise the birds will come. The most “valuable” as the golden eagle which have the bad habit to come just before dawn so then it should already be peace and stillness.

Follow the wait, for those who are not familiar with the WAIT may be an attempt impassable. The wait is happening on the chair, not strolling through the hide, not arranging photo equipment in the backpack, cooking or doing various other things.

When you are hungry you can eat. Usually, one person is still watching when others are eating.

In the evening, far after sunset, after dark, the car comes to pick you up.

If you follow what had been written above, you will have full cards with good pictures.

Thank you!