Golden Eagles in Bulgaria
The opportunity to observe a flying Golden Eagle is a beautiful and emotional moment. The chance of the bird being very close to us makes it an extraordinary, exciting and unforgettable experience.
The establishment of a hide at a feeding site offers the best chance for a close contact with these cautious birds. The very organization of such a site takes several years of observation and preparation.
Our hides are located in the Central and Eastern parts of the Balkan Mountains at about 1000 meters above sea level. The feeding sites are established on open picturesque sites and in addition to taking close shots of the birds; the photographers could also capture the typical mountainous landscape of rocks and ridges.
The results show that our hides are offering excellent chances for shooting wild Golden Eagles in flight.
Each of the hides is suited for a maximum of 3 photographers. Hides are made of bricks, wood and isolation plates, sized 3 – 3,5 m long, 2 m width, 1,6 m height
The hides are also equipped with a small bed for convenience. It is very useful when the photographers are two or three, giving one of them a chance to have a rest while the birds are inactive.
The hides are equipped with chemical toilets.
The front sides are equipped with netted “sleeves” for the lenses of the cameras. In addition to the netting, which allows for good visibility, one-way mirrors are mounted.
Before you visit and use our hides for taking pictures of raptors, you should know the following:
The best period for shooting of Golden Eagles and other raptors is from mid-November to mid-March.
Good pictures of Golden Eagles outside this period are also possible, yet during spring usually only males visit the feeding sites, while the female is incubating in the nest. Outside the given winter period days are longer, requiring longer stay in the hides, furthermore, on clear sunny days sun rises high above the horizon soon after sunrise.
Normal mountain temperatures in winter vary from minus 15 in the morning up to plus 10 in the afternoon. In rare cases there are exceptions with higher or lower daytime temperatures. Accordingly, most winter days are dry and sunny.
We strongly recommend you consulting us on the expected weather forecast shortly before your arrival.
You would need warm clothes for winter conditions, as well as warm shoes and socks, gloves and hats.
The hides are warmed by electrical or gаs heaters.
Sleeping bags will be awelable as well and they give sufficient protection in the cold days so the use of additional heating appliances is not always needed
Most convenient are lenses at focal distance of 300 – 600 mm. It is also good to bring extenders.
Of course, the most suitable lens depends on your camera (crop of full frame) and the birds themselves (perching or in flight). Your style of shooting also matters.
We recommend you to get a tripod, despite the fact that the hides are equipped with been-bags
Most often the optimal distance between the hide and the landing eagles is between 30-40 m and we are trying to secure such a distance.
We are using small family hotels, offering comfort and good food to accommodate our guests.
The time for reaching the hides from the hotels is about 30-45 minutes.
Most often the distance needed to be covered on foot between the vehicle and the hides is about 20 to 400 m .
In case of severe winter conditions (which usually happens once a few years and lasts from several days up to two-three weeks), the access of vehicles to the area of the hides is limited so a longer walk is required or alternative shooting sites are used.
The days in the hide
You must enter and leave the hide before sunrise and after sunset! This practically means 12 hours of stay in December, January or February and about 13 hours in November and March.
We are going to provide hot drinks and your preferable food.
You can move carefully inside the hides and talks quietly especially if we expect mammals around. We are recommending avoiding jerky movement of the lenses. You will receive further guidelines on using the hides on the spot.
The behavior of the birds varies and is difficult to foresee. It depends on the individual characteristics of the birds, the timing as well as the climatic conditions. There is direct relation among the various species. For example, the arrival of Ravens on the site speeds up the appearance of the eagles. At the same time, when Ravens are numerous and more active than usually (in windy days), they could disturb the eagles and shorten their stay.
Golden Eagles usually visit the sites several times during the day.
Normally the female is more cautious and almost always waits for the male to land first. Sometimes they forage together, yet most of the times one of the birds is eating, while the other one stays on a watch several meters away or roaming over the site. When the pair has a young, they always accompany it and watch for its safety.
Large raptors do not need food daily so it is possible that some days the eagles skip a visit on site.
Despite their unpredictability, there are however some general rules in their behavior and you will receive our guidelines before entering the hides.
Besides the Golden Eagles, the feeding sites are also visited by the following species:
Raven - these are, of course, the regulars. In November – December their numbers can reach up to 50-100 birds, while the resident group accounts for some 20-30 birds. Ravens also provide plenty of entertainment for the photographers. Hundreds of landings and take offs, fierce battles on the ground or in the air, hierarchical behavior or just love. Ravens are closely related to the presence of the other raptors and are actively involved in life in front of the hides. The windier the days, the more active the Ravens
Goshawk – One of the feeding sites we use to have two males regularly. Since 2015 we do not have regular visits and we hope to attract new regular visitors again. Please ask about Goshawk in advance.
Griffon Vulture – they are common visitors at one of the hides and often roam above the feeding site.
Common Buzzard - some winters they are regular visitors, some not.
Other raptors also visit the sites, yet more rarely: Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Black Vulture
Don’t forget that - in addition to the hides for Golden Eagles we have several special feeding sites and good hides for smaller bird species and your Golden Eagle trip can be diversified with photo-sessions at these sites as well. The best period for shooting Golden Eagle coincides with the best time for Dalmatian Pelicans, while February is the best for shooting Red-breasted Geese.
If you have inerest to photograph Nutcrakers. We can organize a very good site, where the birds are very active. Even several hours with the Nutcrackers ( can be on the day of arriving or departure in Sofia) will give you goo opportunities for good portraits and action shots in the snow.