България - През дивите Балкани | Bulgarien - Durch den wilden Balkan

Uploaded by peterBG87 on 04.11.2012

A country of wolfs and bears...
Between the Black Sea and the Dunabian plain
some are still living like in bygone times
in close communion with an inimitably animal world
which you will find almost nowhere anymore.
In Bulgaria meet animals and plants from Europe and Asia.
the Orient melds with the Occident...
BULGARIA Through the wild Balkans
The Pirin mountains, end of March.
Wolfs are living in secluded canyons.
Winter still controls the mountain regions.
Food is rare at this time.
For a long time wolfs have been hunted pitilessly.
In Bulgaria more than 1000 have survived and are protected in the meanwhile.
Also the Brown bears withdrew into the deep snowy woods,
and search in purling brooks for fish and snails.
Where the search is successful, there are disputes about the stinky food...
While the animals try to survive in the mountains
in the lower situated valleys spring comes back step by step.
In many places oxes are still used for plowing
of lack of money for expensive vehicles and machines
this traditional agriculture is hard work but it creates
a countryside with a lot of space
for wild animals and plants.
Bulgaria is a quite unknown country...
with Greece and Turkey in the south
and Romania in the north above the Danubian Plain
Also mighty mountains like the Rhodopes
or the Balkan mountain range from the country
and in the east - the Black Sea...
The coast with almost 400 km
is the most famous part of the country.
since all times the fishermen’s day starts very early in the morning.
the nights are still cold and working on the
swinging boats is not very comfortable,
but it's worth it...
Unfortunately there is almost no time for a look in the sky.
Directly above the fishermen
passes the "Via Pontica" -
a kind of highway for 100 000s of white storks and other migratory birds
on their long travel from Africa to their hatcheries in the north.
When the sun starts to become more powerful
and warms up the rocks at the cliffs
the first reptiles awake from their hibernation.
Although it looks
and moves alike a snake
the Sheltopusik is just a harmless lizard.
Like many animals on the Balkans
it prefers a dry and warm climate.
The soft climate also attracts others
picturesquely fishing villages like Nesebar and Sozobol
with their historical frame houses
attract thousands of tourists year by year.
Bulgaria is one of the most favored vacation spots of the east.
However, the majority only knows it
as a sea paradise.
Where rivers flow into the Black Sea directly behind the sand beaches
there are very often impermeably alluvial areas.
The spreaded swamps are reachable only by boat.
It's an ancient legend God missed the Bulgarians while creating the Earth.
To make up for this mistake he gave them a piece of paradise...
Indeed, there is no better place than here for the terrapins.
The box seats in paradise are used by common tree frogs.
But there are also snakes in paradise...
The grass snake already detected its victim...
a green toad with green spots and red warts.
It's not impressed as it seems...
and actually, green toad is not on the snake's bill of fare today.
The snake is no danger for the middle spotted woodpeckers.
In secure height they are busy to feed the young generation.
At the little more dry edge of the woods savaged pigs are living.
A small dog joined them.
The pigs stroll the complete year
and meet this Romani family.
Every 4-th of the around 8 million Bulgarians
is part of a minority.
The Romani people are one of them.
Because of their lifestyle
they were called gypsies,
chased and forced to settle.
Only a few of them still travel from village to village.
Today they go to the north
to the Danube.
The wide plain at the big river is the granary of the country.
A fertile district...
In the early summer
a sensational sea of flowers.
Between the small hills chasms are opening up canyons, washed out of the loess,
conquering animals and plants which like it warm.
Hatcheries for bee-eaters and European rollers.
Birds with a tropical blaze of color.
Since a few generations
also foxes live in the canyons
They live in a huge system of caves.
The steepy sun-drenched loess-walls serve security, protection and warmth.
These five cute "bandits" are just around one and a half months old.
They just started to explore the big world outside their home.
In the unapproachable canyon they feel unobserved...
but they are wrong.
Their games attract an enemy
who is not fully fledged yet for himself.
Right now, the two young eagle-owls look more like tousled shuttlecocks than formidable birds of prey.
There is no young generation yet with the bee-eaters.
these pretty birds just returned from Africa
and start with their courtship display.
Till now, nothing is decided
and until then the birds won't stop quarreling.
If a male caught a bee or a wasp
it beats it as long on a branch
until it loses its sting.
A present for his number one without any dangerous surprises.
The European rollers are also still dating.
Every male is showing off and proofs his hunting skill with bugs.
Like the Bee-Eaters they also choose their partner every spring
to raise together the young generation.
The female is almost convinced...
but there is missing just a mere trifle.
Here also... no chance without a betrothal present
The bugs' hard outer covering made of chitin are really not a delicacy.
.. as indigestibly bales they are spit out.
While the crops are growing on the fields
it becomes summer at the Danubian Plain.
It's time for harvesting.
without modern machines and vehicles
harvesting in the traditional way
and with a lot of muse.
Everywhere people save hay now,
food for horses, mules and donkeys
important possessions and the pride of the small farmers.
In the villages along the Danube
it also seems as time stood still..
The goose maid is taking care of her poultry.
Like pictures of a period long, long ago...
But this perfect idyll covers enormous economical problems.
high unemployment and low salaries which affects most of all old people
and makes it almost impossible to survive.
In future the treasures of nature should help Bulgaria to develop
because where else spotted woodpeckers breed in a village center
such rare views could attract eco-tourists
and bring money to the villages and people
and also protect nature.
In an orchard hungry young golden orioles open their beaks....
It's almost impossible to satisfy them which means a lot of work for the parents.
The male feeds a fledgling with a mulberry.
a big thing which is maybe too big for some.
Above the villages the hillsides become more and more steeped and rugged.
For sure, this is not farmland
but perfect for shepherds and their animals.
No chance for trees and bushes this is the hungry goats' and sheep’s area.
Like this the area is kept open as
a hunting ground for the birds of prey
long-legged buzzards are busy searching for food.
Danger for the ground squirrels which need to be very attentive.
and so instead of a squirrel a small lizard will become food for the fledglings.
When everything is okay again,
the squirrels continue with what they like most - eating.
Nevertheless they are still on alert
because danger is everywhere...
given a start by the goats...
a nose-horned viper Bulgaria's most poisonous snake
is normally attracted by the ground squirrels
but one of the goats is in its way...
... without noticing that the goat is now in danger..
The flock is not very impressed by the snake.
It's more the opposite - curiously the goat start exploring the snake until it disappears.
Without losses they continue their travel
leaving a fast present for bugs, etc. behind.
The goat excrements contain lots of minerals
and are used for nursery and fertilizer
The enormous appetite of the goats makes room,
builds up perfect conditions for insects.
The sun-drenched hillsides also provide
comfortable conditions for insects and others.
As it seems these woodchat shrikes have problems.
The fledgling is very busy with a caterpillar...
... not knowing how to handle it
Meanwhile, many of the Bee-Eaters found their better half’s.
Some are still fighting like an old married couple..
Others continue to gave presents.
Only if he fulfills his obligations
he will be accepted.
Already before the pairing, both started to build up a home together
by digging a hatching cave into the crag.
There they will breed and raise the young generation well-protected.
At the fox burrow the youngsters are still playing.
They are around 2 months old now.
Five siblings ready to go...
Mother fox is away, searching for food
and the youngsters are alone now.
Like the young eagle owls on the rock above.
Their parents are sleeping during the day.
Dangerous neighbours for the curious foxes.
Europe's biggest owl
appears not before twilight...
It's chasing every animal, which it can get...
or young foxes.
On the next morning
only four siblings are left...
The adventurous brother paid his curiosity with his life.
Sticky heat puts pressure on the country
and the upcoming thunderstorm makes the flowers by the wayside dance.
But before, a magical light appears over the fields.
Then, the thunderstorm starts...
Ground can't handle the big amount of water
and so in the nearby Balkan Mountains small runnels transform
into rapid streams, sending floodings down to the Danube plains.
There water goes into the buildings.
and destroys even the few things people have...
Almost every year there are big floodings.
The rural population pays a high price for Bulgaria's untamed nature.
Where hours ago grain was growing
now fireflies and frogs feel comfortable.
Non-swimmers try everything to stay dry,
and push each other into the deadly wetness.
A swinging piece of wood becomes the life preserver
for a wet blind rat.
Its subterranean apartment doesn't exist anymore.
No surprise, that it doesn't like this forced trip at all...
Storks chase frogs and toads in the meanwhile.
On the next morning, nothing is left anymore
from the big rain in the Balkan mountains.
In this region of Bulgaria only a few people are living,
but there are more wild animals instead.
It's very hard to use the steepy hillsides here
and only a few paths lead into the woods.
Trees are very important raw materials
and for many families the only source of energy.
In Bulgaria there is no big tumber industry.
Like in the Danube plains, people also here
in the Balkan mountains have to work very hard.
When the trunks are fixed well,
the horses carry them down in the valley.
The trunks are collected there on special places
and moved on via trucks.
The way to go easy on resources in the woods proves advantages to the nature.
Many animal species which are expelled elsewhere, find a home here.
Black storks like the sequestration
in the Balkan Mountains.
They look very early for a lifetime partner to whom they remain faithful.
With a good teamwork they take care of the fledglings,
if one is out, the other stays home.
A hawfinch feeds his fledglings with caterpillars,
baby puree in a way..
The way the bird has a good hand at giving caterpillar by caterpillar is really astonishing.
During the procedure the fledglings are completely quiet...
... protection against enemies.
In the west of the Balkan mountains, close to the Serbian and Romanian border
are located the sandstone rocks of Belogradchik.
Some are few 100 meters high
and some names are based on Christian legends:
The Madonna...
The Monks...
In this region there are lots of caves
as also in many other places in Bulgaria.
more than 2000 in the complete country.
This one here leads almost 1.5 km under the Balkan mountains.
The entrance consists of many rock arches
At the beginning of twilight
the cave walls start living.
Countless bats become active and
start hunting for insects.
In the south of the Balkan mountains is the valley of roses.
Only during the cold dawn the precious blooms are harvested.
At this time, the oil concentration in the flowers reaches its maximum.
Around 80% of the world's rose production
comes from this Bulgarian valley.
in which climate, ground and kinds of roses harmonize perfectly with each other.
2000 blossoms are needed for only 1 gram of rose oil.
One of the most expensive basic ingredients of noble perfumes.
For the rose valley's people the flower of love served modest prosperity.
A perfect reason to celebrate...
with dance, music and colorful traditional costumes.
The women contest to become "The queen of roses"
although it's something special with the thorns.
The celebration lasts 5 days.
Within new acquaintances are made and saved in the family's photo album.
Directly in the south at the border to Greece
there is another mountain chain...
In the Rhodopes water is very rare in summer.
The climate much hotter and dryer than in the north.
The few remaining puddles are used by the birds for a bath.
Many reptiles live here on the sun-drenched hillsides.
The European ratsnake, Europe's most beautiful snake
its favorite meal ... small rodents and birds.
No danger for the stag beetle.
Different from a rival...
fighting for a female!
The Rhodopes are a bitter beauty.
The barren ground is not efficient.
Some houses and villages are abandoned.
most of all those, inhabited by people with Turkish descent.
Many of them left Bulgaria and settled back to their native country.
Who stayed makes a living by cultivation of tobacco.
To escape the heat at noon, harvesting
often starts in the middle of the night.
A cumbersome business, but nevertheless
an important branch of the economy.
Close to the villages, women bring up leave
by leave on long strings.
Like this the tobacco is to be dehydrated.
Cattle herds range the mountains above the villages like in the complete country.
But in the Rhodopes they are observed all the time.
Maybe the cows still didn't notice that a goat died directly in front of them.
This for sure can't happen to the Egyptian vultures.
They fight for each other for the best pieces.
A brave black kite enters the scene.
As it seems it has some problems with the dead goat,
while the Egyptian vultures enjoy their meal
and transport the food to their nests on the oppositely crag.
Egyptian vultures are the smallest of the four European kinds of vultures.
All of them are strictly protected and.
Bulgaria works hard to make them survive.
The griffon vultures are the biggest relatives.
They also appear on the feast and ask for trouble.
Two cinereous vultures also appear.
Imposing animals with a wingspan of 3 meters.
For a long time all stalk and threaten each other craning.
suddenly, like one gave a secret signal...
the battle for the cold buffet begins.
A few minutes later nothing is left from the dead goat.
It disappeared completely in the stomachs of the vultures.
There is much to discover in the Rhodopes...
The Trigrad gorge - the devil's throat cave...
magical rock arches...
and people taking care of their traditions and customs.
In this region, one of the poorest in Bulgaria another minority group is living.
In some mountain villages mosques leave an impression.
13% of the Bulgarians are Muslims
but only a few have blond hair and blue eyes:
the Pomaks.
200 000 Pomaks live separated from the
orthodox Bulgarians in their own villages.
Their ancestors were slavs,
who converted to the Islam between the 14-th and 19-th century
during the Turkish occupation
Social outcasts in Bulgaria,
but they managed to keep their cultural
identity in defiance of hostility
Pyramids of Melnik
at the foot of the Pirin mountains.
Any kind of live seems to be vanished.
Animals avoid the heat or withdraw in higher regions.
Here where it's almost impossible to be found the most shy habitants of Bulgaria live.
They managed to escape the hunting fever of the past
and to follow them now into their last refuges is almost not possible
anyone can account himself lucky who is able to catch a view on a so called grey shadow.
... or a brown one.
The image of the bears changed also as of the wolves.
Started as greatly feared predators...
... becoming the figureheads of a country,
which today is proud of its untouched nature.
The impression of people according to their wild neighbours has changed
although the animals leveled off...
The high levels of the Pirin mountains
with peaks almost 3000 meters high
birds like the spotted nutcracker
appreciate the rough alpine climate.
Sometimes the snow from last years' winter doesn't melt completely.
A premonition to an upcoming cold period.
At this level summer is very short.
Only a few weeks left until the brooks freeze up,
the flowerage disappears also here
and autumn comes back to Bulgaria,
the Balkan country with so many faces.
The true paradise of the east!