BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD
“The birds of Eastern Europe: Little Bittern”
From a small lake near Belozem (Bulgaria), Vladislav managed to photograph this family of Little Bittern and feel the excitement of being so close to them. A special experience that recalls every time that looks these pictures he now shares with us.
© Vladislav Tachev
How did your interest in nature start?
Well, I loved being in the nature from the very beginning of my life – I loved camping in the woods, go for a walk for hours and just be out of the town and hear nothing but the bird songs and the wind in the trees. I hardly changed while growing up, just that now I can chose myself where, when and how to go, which allows me to concentrate on getting closer to the animals, making most of those songs.
And your interest in wildlife photography?
I loved photography as a child too – I loved holding a camera in my hands and wanted to have my own. For my 15th birthday my sister got me a compact digital camera that just unleashed those years of waiting and urging to capture great moments. Along with my passion for nature, it was the only logical choice to combine my two passions and start making pictures of the nature and its inhabitants.
What equipment do you prefer Nikon or Canon? What equipment do you use to get your pictures?
From the both I’d prefer Canon, but actually I’m from the very few, that shoot with Sony – I just love the Minolta/Sony system! Of course I’ve gone a long way from that little boy with the compact camera and now use Minolta’s 800si, Sony’s A100 and recently acquired also A77, with its astonishing 12fps at 24mpx, which is really something that I bet every wildlifer dreams of. Along with my three bodies, I use 80-200/2.8 tele-zoom and a 300/2.8 prime lens, with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters and a gimbal headed tripod. Of course everyone who’s been in the field knows, that the photo-equipment is not as important as the hide you shoot from, so I believe the camo I use is just as important – I use a ghillie sniper suit in case I need to be mobile, or a camo tent hide I modded myself for the cases when you just need to wait for the birds to come. I’m thinking about a couple of new types of hides and locations to set up those on, but hopefully one day soon I’d be able to show the more important results of those hides, than the actual hides.
Do you have any favourite bird or group of birds?
Yes, I love Kingfishers! From my very beginning in wildlife photography I loved the looks of this small, but incredibly beautiful bird. Also I love the looks of all bitterns, herons and egrets – the entire Ciconiiformes family. I also like almost all Birds of Pray, along with and especially the Strigidae family.
You show us a gallery about Little Bittern, a bird very discreet, elusive and difficult to photograph … Why have you chosen these birds?
Because of all the emotions looking at these pictures makes me recall – it was really a special experience getting this close to them and them sharing this intimate moment with me. Every time I remember this particular shoot I get the exact same emotion set I felt then and I think this will be one of the most special shoots I have ever made and will be like that for my entire life as a wildlife photographer.
Have you used hides or any other technique to get closer to the Little Bitterns? By the way, has been more difficult to photograph adults or juveniles?
Well yes, I was a floating bush on top of the lake – a small inflatable boat, that hardly had room for me, with tons of camouflage both on me and the boat, that as result made me entirely invisible to them – sad that I went on this shoot alone and don’t have any pictures of myself, because probably I have looked hilarious. And in my opinion photographing juveniles is a lot more complex and complicated – one should not get too close to them, because their parents will step up and attack you, also getting too close to them now, being as curios as all young animals are, might cause them to start overtrusting people and get them killed someday, so one should really think in perspective for those beings when shooting juveniles and not just go make some photos and don’t care about the consequences of their own actions.
How is birdwatching lived in a country like Bulgaria? What is the environmental awareness of the people?
Well the last several years there were a lot of actions and projects aimed at the public, so nowadays it’s really better than it used to be 5-10 years ago. Today people are more aware and caring about the nature than they used to be, so I’m glad that all those organizations we had for the last 5-10-15 years actually made that huge of a progress and alerted people about threats to the nature and the wildlife. Actually a couple of months ago there was a project, that made informational posters in one of our biggest parks downtown to introduce to people the 65 species met in that particular park, out of the 260 for the entire city, which really made me feel something is happening and there’s progress being made.
Do you collaborate with any association or conservation project?
Not officially – I do participate in e.g. seasonal bird counting, but not always since not always it can fit in my tight schedule. Every time I do have however the opportunity to, I love to be in the nature and help everyone to keep it clean and intact for everyone. I do have some projects in mind, that I hope to be able to realize soon in close collaboration with some of the organizations we have (BSPB, “Four paws” and eventually a couple of others), but it is too ahead in the future to comment at the moment – let’s hope in several months some of those projects might have come to reality and I can send you an update, though.
Do you publish your photographic work anywhere?
Yes, I do – I do upload to a few wildlife website galleries like http://wildlifephotos-bg.com/portfolio.php?l=en&author=144 for an instance, but lately I am working on one of my own, that would be rather a portal aiming at popularizing wildlife photography to the Bulgarian people and to the world in general. I’m hoping to make it a place for other birdwatchers and wildlife photographers to also gather up and meet and start a wildlife photography community, that would also in a way raise the awareness of the everyday people. I hope one day to be able to grow and to cover more countries, but since it’s a huge project, I’ll start with just Bulgaria. I hope to get it up and running really soon, so go ahead and check out http://www.wildlife.bg – who knows – may be at the time you’re reading this, the site might be already operational.
Interview by: J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)