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Golden Eagles on the Åland Islands
Sunday, 21 February 2010 18:55
This weekend was my fourteenth day in the hide. I've been there two days since my last update, without any good results. I've gotten som photos of the woodpeckers, but almost no good photos of Buzzards or Eagles. Because of this I was not very motivated to sit in the hide for twelve to thirteen hours only to come home empty handed. However I knew this was going to be one of the last chances this spring, so I decided I'd give it a go. With me for six days has been Daniel Stenberg, but now I was accompanied by Tom Sundström. He had previously spent one day in the hide in November. That day we had eagles feeding for about an hour, but it was raining and foggy so there was really no good photo opportunities.
For this session we decided to start at 6:45, which proved to be 30 minutes too late. The days have really gotten longer since last time and by then it was already fairly bright outside. We managed to scare one Buzzard, who was probably sleeping there that night. We then had to mount the Wimberley heads, light the heater and when we were done it was already 07:30. Not the best start on the day and frankly I thought we wouldn't see anything more that day. I hoped that we only alerted one bird and not all Ravens and Crows. Unless they feed on the ground no Eagles will get there either. The day started pretty much like all other days in the hide. First one Raven gets there, checks the area and then alerts all the friends. The first to arrive is usually there at least 30 minutes before the rest arrive. It's the same procedure every time. The woodpeckers visited us together with the usual passerines. By accident I spotted one Golden Eagle hiding behind a few branches. The first few hours had been pretty calm, but now I felt we might get lucky. My goals for the first winter was to photograph White-tailed Eagles, Northern Goshawks and the Golden Eagle. I got some photos of the white tailed eagles the first weekend out there. Not perfect, but still quite decent. I've got no photos of the Goshawk, but I saw one adult lady in November. That must have been a migrating bird though, since I haven't seen one since then. Last year I observed juvenile Golden Eagles in the area, so I hoped they would visit Åland this winter as well. Something they actually did, because we saw one sitting in the tree tops a month ago. There was still some chance to finally get a photo of it and this weekend was when it had to happen. By now I knew I wouldn't get photos of the Goshawk, but instead I had a few shots of the Common Buzzard, so I was happy anyway.
This day the Golden Eagle sat there, hidden, for one hour observing all the activity on the ground. There was probably 16 crows feeding at the time and the Eagle was very interested in what they were doing. When it took off I missed getting any photos of it and after that I thought I'd lost my chances this season. After that nothing happened for four hours, when the Eagle all of the sudden arrived again. However this time it was not alone. There was at least two more birds there and it looked like it was two Golden Eagles accompanied by one sub adult White-tailed Eagle. I only saw them for a few seconds as they passed my hide, so it was impossible to say for sure. It was calm for 30 minutes when one Eagle all of the sudden landed on the food. After a few minutes it left the place, but it was kind enough to land right near by, giving us the opportunity to photograph it. The bird ate a few times, giving us many good photos. When it left it attacked one bird at the far end of the marsh. Away went a second Golden Eagle. They chased each other the rest of the day and later two White tailed Eagles arrived, of which one was adult. The old guy didn't feed at all, but sat there for one hour or so.
What I thought would be yet another day without any photos turned out to be the best day of the year. It was a perfect day to end the season. I might be able to squeeze one more session out there, but I doubt it. I'm already looking forward to november, when I'll start feeding them again.