Friday, 30 June 2017

Bulgaria, June 2017 Part 3 Don't look Ethel!

Balkan Marbled White   Melanargia larissaOur second day in Sinemorets was another late start. Catching up 2 hours takes a little doing when you are not forced to get out of bed so it was 9.30am before we hit breakfast. The previous evenings meal, a huge buffet selection had been a lot better than expected, I even had seconds of the Lasagne, and we had spent the evening in the downstairs bar where the G&T's were stronger than I realised!
Still, once again I was ready with my camera and after Justin Timberlake had welcomed in the new day I headed off across the beach shown in the last post.
I felt a little uncomfortable carrying a rather large telephoto lens amongst scantily clad sunbathers and naked children paddling in the sea and river but no one challenged me and I was thankful to reach the far corner where you can make a short scramble up on to the headland beyond.
A fairly large grassland area on the cliff top overlooks the Black Sea which is currently extremely blue due to an algae which has made international news .
Nr Sinemoretz, SE Bulgaria
Just like Spain, I was really impressed by this wild flower and grassland area which is protected as part of the nature park.
There were butterflies everywhere. 
I , being more interested in birds really, targeted a Corn Bunting which had just caught a Grasshopper.
Corn Bunting    Emberiza calandra
Moving on across the grassland I found myself overlooking a small and well sheltered but rather rocky beach.
Silistar beach, SE Bulgaria
I was only 10-15 minutes away from the hotel but it was so, so peaceful. Beyond this beach and the headland was a larger more sandy beach again which was virtually deserted.
Lipite beach, SE Bulgaria
Not many people made the effort to get this far which is a shame. However this seclusion was obviously attractive to the few that favoured naked sunbathing. Once again I felt a bit ill at ease carrying a telephoto lens even if I was perched up on a cliff top far from their view. 
It was those few that passed me heading that way that might get the wrong impression!
The answer was simple. Make sure they could see why I was there and start photographing butterflies!

It was actually good fun as I found it very challenging.
Dark Green Fritillary   Argynnis aglaja
So much so I started realising how many different insects that were around.
From the huge wasp like creatures to tiny little bugs
Weird and wonderful shapes and colours.
The biggest problem was that with my telephoto lens I had to move back 3.7m as that's the minimum focus distance. Even with a 1.4 teleconverter to magnify the image they were still probably no bigger in the frame than you could achieve using a shorter lens...... like my 100-400 where you can focus from about 1m away although if you get too close the subject is likely to fly away of course. The big problem with telephoto lenses is also the very shallow depth of field, the area were you get everything in absolute focus. You can make that area larger by altering the lens aperture ( sorry my attempts of technical detail are neither well explained or interesting to many) but in doing so it does effect shutter speeds and ISO. Even in good light the 7D2 I was using doesn't have a particularly good higher ISO performance.
Anyway, it was a good cover, and I was actually enjoying this new world I was exploring.
I spotted a trio of Cormorants perched on rocks at the furthest point out to sea and decided I'd take a closer look.
Cormorant    Phalacrocorax carbo
One flew but the other two stayed for a photo before I found myself gingerly walking across the steeply sloping rocky outcrop that led to the big sandy beach........... and two naked people who were only a few metres away.
Hopefully they had seen me first from their little hiding place in the mini cove and would have seen me photographing the birds, anyway I shuffled past, eyes averted and they said nothing.
I decided to get off the beach a.s.a.p. just in case someone took exception!
Heading inland I found it led to endless miles of woodland tracks.
Strandzha NP. SE Bulgaria
You can walk for ages and not see a single person. I repeated the walks at least 6 or 7 times and probably bumped in to three other groups of 2 or 3 in the whole time I was there.
This is apparently one of Europes oldest original forests and it must be a wildlife heaven.It stretches for 450 square miles inland but if it's similar over the whole area it's largely oak trees growing there and they provide food and homes for countless species.
The biggest problem for me was seeing what was about. There was a reasonable amount of bird song but with all the leaves views were fleeting if managed at all.
Eurasian Jay   Garrulus glandarius
Jays , love oak trees and the other woodland bird that was in evidence was the Chaffinch.
I heard and saw Nuthatch,Chiffchaff but Woodpecker remained out of sight so I couldn't be sure which species it was. I wasn't too bothered about getting decent shots as I have seen them before instead I carried on photographing insects whenever I came to a tiny clearing in the forest.
I have seen those big black bee-like creatures many times before but still don't know what they are called.
Six-spot Burnet   Zygaena filipendulae
The Burnet moth is easy to identify as we get them here in N Wales during the summer but butterflies are an altogether different problem for me as so many look so similar.
Essex Skipper  Thymelicus lineola
I decided my shots were getting a bit better with practice too!
Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola
You can see what I mean about depth of field though. If you get the right angle or a side on shot it looks better.
For this Balkan Green Lizard though even F22 doesn't bring the whole body in to focus and the subsequent shutter speed of 1/320 isn't the best for hand holding a big lens. 
Balkan Green Lizard  Lacerta trilineata
Mind you if I went any closer the Lizard would have run so there are some advantages I gained.
No the biggest problem of the lot is identifying what you have seen. Where do you start looking for something like this?
Anyway, for the time being it remains a mystery but if anyone want's to tell me I would appreciate the answer.
Back in Bulgaria it was now mid afternoon and the sun was getting hot. Arriving back at the hotel it was too late for lunch and besides I wasn't that hungry. Instead we headed down for the pizza and burgers that are on offer from 2.30-5.30pm. Showing great restraint I limited myself to a burger without chips but decided I would try just one tiny square of pizza too. There were two types available so I relented and had both. Looking around me I noted the typical physique of my fellow diners and it did ring alarm bells.
Justin Timberlake again belted out "You got sunshine in your pockets" at 4.00pm on the dot and some of the diners got up to watch the animation team and their followers performing a choreographed dance routine at the poolside . Other diners ignored them and carried on troughing.
We were on holiday but guilt had already caught up with me. We had another evening of food and drink ahead of us so I suggested to Claire we went for a walk together in preparation.
I took her the same headland route I had walked that morning to show her the butterflies.
We reached the part overlooking the naked male sunbathers.
Don't look Ethel!
It was too late, she'd already got an eyeful!

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