Samur forest and Caspian shore

Caspian Sea shoreline
Caspian Sea shoreline. EF 17–40mm f/4L USM, , ƒ/9 ISO, 200, 1/200″.

We all could not wait the trip to Samur forest. Wildlife photographer Valery Moseykin, “Photo Expedition” leader and the author and guide of the first eco-tour in Dagestan, was talking about this wonderful forest with admiration since the very beginning. So with expectations that high, the long way from Mahachkala to Samur river actually looked not that long at all. In addition, we saw endless water space of azure and calm Caspian Sea to the left, and Caucasian foothills to the right. Finally we found ourselves at the southernmost point of Russia, almost at the border with Azerbaijan.

Ophrys oestrifera, botfly orchis
Ophrys oestrifera, Ophrys oestrifera. EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM, , ƒ/11 ISO, 200, 1/13″.

Looks surprising, there is an asphalt road through the south-eastern side of the Samur forest. Locals take it to get to Primorsky settlement which is in 350 meters from Azerbaijan. And this road led us right to the heart of the forest.
As soon as we got out of the car, we saw adorable orchids, a species from Orchis genus. Two other species were hiding in the forest next to the glade.

Saturnia pyri, giant emperor moth Sturgeons at the fish breeding farm
Saturnia pyri, giant emperor moth. Sturgeons at the fish breeding farm. EF 17–40mm f/4L USM, , ƒ/9 ISO, 200, 1/200″.
Continue reading "Samur forest and Caspian shore"

Whooper swan fights | Gulf of Finland, Lebyazhje, April 2016

Flying whooper swans
Flying whooper swans. , ƒ/10 ISO, 640, 1/1000″.

Finally, swans have arrived. And another and another new ones have been arriving.

Whooper swans flying low above the water
Whooper swans flying low above the water. , ƒ/10 ISO, 640, 1/1000″.

A week after the first spotting I made the ride to Lebyazhje once again to spend bight and meet birds early next morning. The good thing is that there are no people at the shoreline in the morning, especially on Monday. Another one advantage is cold air. Means that photographs would be sharper when taken without miracles and warm uplifting air streams which literally ruin the image.

Whooper swans fly in a flock above Gulf of Finland
Whooper swans fly in a flock above Gulf of Finland. , ƒ/10 ISO, 500, 1/500″.

At sunrise, I got out the car and was standing at the ruined pier, looking through a binocular here and there. A mammal passed by in the water, guess it was something like an otter. A number of cornorants were shitting sitting on a large boulder in two hundred meters from the shore. In this empty morning silence I finally saw some swans to the west and two groups to the east.

Whooper swans in the early morning
Whooper swans in the early morning. , ƒ/9 ISO, 500, 1/1250″.

Swans did not show too much of activity in the morning. They were waking up and stretching, and did their lazy float from bays where they had spent the night. Some of them could flap once or twice while stretching, but that was rare.

Whooper swan flapping
Whooper swan flapping. , ƒ/9 ISO, 500, 1/800″.
Continue reading "Swan fights | Gulf of Finland, Lebyazhje, April 2016"