In May, I led my second (and probably last) floating hide photography workshop in Korgalzhyn, in the steppe of nothern Kazakhstan. If you're a regular reader, you've seen a few pictures already, but here is a fluffier gallery. Compared to last year, I spent more time in the water, and less time in the grasslands... and in hindsight, I wish I had done things a little differently. But in any case, through the fun and the hardships, I came back home with an exciting portfolio that showcases several aspects of life in the steppe.
Here we go!
I visited Suomenlinna several times in the beginning of June. Among the geese and the wheatears, one bird I didn't expect to shoot was the Common eider (Somateria mollissima). Sure, I've seen the species from there, but never close to shore. These times, however, I was lucky to get close and personal with a group of mothers collectively caring for their babies in what's called a crèche (from the French word for kindergarten). Baby eiders immediately leave the nest after hatching, and while some mothers care for them on their own, they often either abandon their brood in a crèche, or join it and care for them and others with other eider moms.
White-throated dippers (Cinclus cinclus) are common winter visitors to southern Finland. Many of the rapids in the region host a dipper (or more) for the season, usually attracting viewers and photographers: this species is a crowd favourite! I can totally understand that, seeing them plunge into cold water without breaking a sweat is a mesmerising spectacle for me too.
I have a secret spot, out of the city, which not many visit. I was there on a sunny February morning last winter. For a few hours, I sat in the snow and moved my toes inside my boots, but having two dippers chasing each other in front of me was well worth enduring such cold conditions. I hid under winter camouflage so the birds couldn't spot me, and it worked like a charm: they sometimes came very close!
I regularly travel to Hungary because Vivien, my girlfriend, comes from there. Fortunately, her parents live near Kiskunság National Park, where the largest population of Great bustards (Otis tarda) of the country can be found. Needless to say, those endangered big chickens have become quite an obsession of mine!
In October, I had some fantastic days in the field which I want to tell you about. Ladies and gentlemen, follow the guide :D