Hutovo blato- the unique wildlife of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Amazonia- I part

Hutovo Blato nature park is a unique natural oasis located in the municipalities of Čapljina and Stolac and is only 15 kilometres from the Adriatic Sea. The beauty of  Hutovo Blato by far exceeds our standard impressions when visiting a certain natural area, it resembles imaginative descriptions of fairy-tale desert mirages in Arabic literature. Hutovo Blato is a unique combination of different botanical and animal habitats and species in Europe, with 256 recorded bird species, 50 fish species, and botanical species, each more beautiful than the next, with intertwined systems of water canals that connect lakes such as Deransko, Svitava, Jelim, Drijen, Orah, Škrka and many others. The river Krupa, a tributary of the Neretva, as the main water artery of Hutovo, nicely connects all this into a functional unit, which proves that paradise on earth really exists.  Driven by a long-lasting desire to satisfy the eternal hunger for nature of a wildlife photographer, on two occasions during the summer months of 2019 and 2021 I visited Hutovo Blato. I will never forget how I felt on my first visit to this gem of our nature. At 7 a.m., on a hot August morning in 2019, I was in the park and met the boatman who was about to take me by the boat through all these canals and lakes of Hutovo in search of my friends – birds. A secret burning desire is a close encounter with my favourite predator, the white-tailed eagle, which, according to the staff, nests in Hutovo. We set off by boat through the canals breaking through the dense vegetation at certain points. Right at the beginning of the ride, my attention was drawn to a smart kingfisher who, for a good part of the ride, was flaying fast in front of the boat, from one side to the other, landing on one branch, then quickly taking off again, deliberately daring me to take a photo, and enjoying it. And why not enjoying it, after all, this is his home and he has the right to laugh at my disappointed face when I realised that the photo failed 😊 A hawfintch flew over the boat, this interesting bird is an unusual kind, looks like a small tank during the flight.

We drove for a relatively long time through the canals, while the sounds of various birds were coming through the vegetation like a perfectly tuned jazz orchestra that managed to create a simple harmony from disharmonious sounds of music. Lush vegetation sprang from the 1.5-2-meter-deep water and I was delighted with the purity of the river Krupa, so I splashed my face with a handful of water, feeling its healthy morning freshness.

It is important to note that this space is a paradise for those who love plants, flora and floristry, they will feed the soul (and flower pots) here. 😊

After some 45 minutes of cruising through the Krupa canals, we came to the plateau of the magnificent Deran Lake. Deran Lake is a large magical lake located in the heart of Hutovo and it seems that all roads, all these mighty water canals lead to it to bring visitors to a large party of natural diversity. As soon as we came to the plateau, hundreds of white water lily flowers and nuphars shyly opened their petals caressed by the morning sun; a large flock of sand martins flew around the boat performing perilous stunts, testing the capabilities of the camera and lens; a yellow wagtail proudly posed on one of the water lily leaves, then took off quickly, having left a great photo as a gift to me.

Exotic squacco herons emerged from the sedge and reed, flying around or catching their first morning bite. This bird surprised me, since I don’t have an opportunity to watch this migratory bird on my typical birding destinations, this was refreshing.

I asked the boatman to turn off the engine, as to enjoy the atmosphere. I have, never in my life, felt such peace and quiet that reigned on this big lake, as if it were a place where the silence was born. I felt privileged and pleased to witness this kind of atmosphere. After 10 minutes, we moved on to a place where a couple of white-tailed eagles could have been supposedly, and which we could only approach by boat. Swallows, pygmy and great cormorants, various ducks, marsh harrier, cattle egret, turtledoves, golden oriole, virtuoso kingfisher and many others crossed paths with the lens, to my great satisfaction. Unfortunately, there were no white-tailed eagles this time either, but the impression was certainly not spoiled because the emotions of the whole experience were overwhelming.

Many times after this trip, I have reborn the memories of this visit and watch photos filling the space of the living room with presence of squacco heron, sand martins, kingfisher and wild vegetation.

It is most wanted in the long and polluted winters of the continental part of Bosnia.

Almir Hukic

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