Wild Bird Photography by Steve Oakes

My blog for May 2017

Tuesday 23 May 2017 ~ Macedonia, .

My wife and I made our almost annual trip to Macedonia last week. It's always a chance to do some photography which, as you'll probably notice from the rare postings that I do these days, is not a thing I get to do very often.

In addition, I always take along my travel lens the fixed length 400mm F5.6 from Canon. It's a lens that not without it's challenges. For a start 400mm means that you have to get pretty close to stand a chance of getting a good shot. Also it has no image stabiliser so a fast shutter speed is essential which means it's all but useless in low light. Fortunately the light in Macedonia is not usually a problem.

As usual the golden orioles were easy to find but impossible to photograph.Quite a few other birds managed to evade my attempts to photograph them too but let's look at what I did manage to photograph.

I started off in Berovo, which is in the east of Macedonia - close to the Bulgarian border. There are lots of birds to be found here, like this not quite pin-sharp black redstart..


Serins were about in some numbers...


As were tree sparrows. At the Aurora Hotel and Spar, nearby, they hope around the feet of diners at the restaurant rather like house sparrows do in the UK.


One birds that I seen only rarely and never had my lens on is the cuckoo. I was fortunate to find one perched openly on wires but sadly it was very early in the morning and there was a lot of cloud so the light was quite poor. Too poor for the travel lens but here's my attempt at any rate. What a pity these are so hard to find in the UK these days.


Moving on the Strumica, I spent a couple of long mornings trying to photograph the golden orioles again but without any success. Woodchat shrike on the other hand are a little easier.


We spent an afternoon south of Strumica at Lake Doyran. This is a beautiful lake with some surprising inhabitants. Great reed warblers were making a noise in the reeds at the edge, small snakes could be seem swimming in the water and noisy frogs were plentiful. Cormorants were busy fishing...


A pair of common terns spent most of the time resting at the end of a jetty but would take off, grab a fish and return to their resting place fairly regularly.


The most impressive resident is the dalmatian pelican that were present in small numbers.


Next we headed North a ways to Stip. In this Stip area there is a lot of rice grown and these wet areas attract a lot of birds. Storks for example are very common..


Red-backed shrike are common here and, it seems, all over Macedonia.


But the birds I was most hoping to see was the Europen Roller. Luckily a friend knew where to find them and we did come across them. The bad news was that as we arrived it clouded over so my picture is not as good as I would have liked. Still now I know where to find them, may be next time!


You can see all my photographs from Macedonia, by clicking here.

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