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Eagle photography

White-Tailed Eagle looking at some Crows.

This weekend I've spent 27 hours in my new hide. The hide, located on the Åland Islands was built during the summer of 2009 and we've made some last preparations throughout September and October. I started feeding passerines in October and larger birds in November. As always when it comes to feeding birds, no matter how big or small they are, the feeding must continue until spring once started, so I have a few fun months ahead of me. The hide is almost four square meters and with the help of some insulation it's nice and warm here, even when it's cold outside. With only an oil lamp and a few candles there is around 22-24 degrees Celsius inside the hide. We've already identified some additional things we can do to keep the cool air on the outside, which hopefully enables us to keep similar temperatures even if the temperature drops well bellow freezing point. During all three days I've had my laptop and a 3g modem with me. The computer helps to kill a few hours when there is low activity outside the hide. I'm actually sitting in the hide while writing this news entry.

Last winter I used a doghouse tent and the step to a permanent hide is noticeable to say the least. Now I can move around in the hide, I don't need to wear a ton of clothes and my feet are nice and warm. Since the Eagles and Ravens are very shy, one has got to enter the hide before dawn and leave after dusk. This means that once you go in, you must stay there for 9 hours. This introduces some practical obstacles, such as visiting the toilet, but in the new hide it's at least bearable compared to sitting in a tent.

White-Tailed Eagle.

The first day was by far the best photography wise, with good lighting and Eagles visiting the location. November has had very few hours of sunlight, so I felt quite lucky when I saw blue skies through the window.  The first guests to arrive every morning was the Common Tit and Eurasian Jay. The latter always disappeared for a few hours in the middle of the day only to return right before dusk. At 9 I usually heard the Ravens for the first time when they flew over my hide. They often returned 30 minutes later, looking at all the Crows and Eurasian Magpies who had been starting to feed on the food I've left for them. This was also when the Eagles arrived every day. I was lucky to have at least three, maybe four different individuals in total. However there was only good photo conditions the first day, so I didn't get that many photos of them. Still though, it was a wonderful experience to finally hear them cackle and fly by the hide. The first day one of them sat on the roof and I could even spot some feathers through the window. I have never been that close to an Eagle before, and I wonder if I'll ever get the same opportunity again.

The second day didn't offer any feeding Eagles, but I had five or six Ravens there the entire day. There was little light this day, but at short periods of time the light managed to penetrate the thick clouds and I managed to get a few frames.  This day two Grey-Headed Woodpecker joined us at the end of the day, which was lots of fun since I've never seen them in this area before. Also a  Black Woodpecker said hi to us by picking on the hide. Hopefully I get a chance to photograph the later this winter. Today started out well with blue skies and Eagles visiting the hide. Unfortunately they decided to show up right before dusk when it was really foggy outside. We didn't get any photos of them, but at least they got a good meal.

Common Raven enjoying the sun.

There are still a lot of thinks to fine-tune before everything works as it should, but it was for sure a delicate start on the season. So far this year we've seen the following species at the hide: Blue Tit, Goshawk, Grey-Headed Woodpecker, White-tailed Eagle , Jackdaw, Common Raven, Crow, Eurasian Jay, European Magpie, Black Woodpecker, Common Tit. Needless to say I'm already looking forward until the next time I can visit the hide!