OK. I confess. This is when I realise that I am a complete nerd. But I truly enjoy it. Spending 7 days in a cold hide, from hours before sunrise to after sunset, in sub-zero temperatures. Sitting in a warm sleeping bag, in a chair which is covered by reindeer skin fur, with my feet on another reindeer skin on the floor, drinking tea and eating sandwiches all day long, waiting for the eagles to land. Waiting in silence, together with 2-3 other people. All with cameras poking out through holes in the wall. I guess it is a kind of addiction. OK, I am an addict. My addiction is strong wildlife experiences, meeting charismatic wildlife during many hours and at close distance. Not so long ago something mainly to be had in the savannahs of Africa or in Alaska.
But times are changing quickly. Now we can experience some of the most charismatic wildlife on Earth here in Europe. Or, how about meeting with two of the most powerful raptors in Europe – the Golden eagle and the White-tailed sea eagle at 10 metres distance? Possible only through the help by and the devoted efforts of local wildlife experts and nature tourism entrepreneurs, like Ole Martin Dahle here in Flatanger, running the company Norway Nature.
We are in Nord Trondelag in central Norway, and here as well as in large other areas in Europe, there is a wildlife comeback which is more and more evident day by day. And not only are we not any more persecuting, shooting, harassing, poisoning and massacring the great raptors and the large carnivores. We even pay real money to be able to see them, and to experience them at close hand. We are nerds, but we there are pretty many of us, spending our money on these kind of experiences. Which suddenly creates job and business opportunities of a completely new kind. Never before in history has wildlife and nature been more valuable alive and unexploited than dead and ruined. Not many people in Flatanger believed Ole Martin would survive very long on his eagle-showing business, when it started back in 2003. They were proven wrong. Now visitors from some 30 countries have visited here. Most of us coming back, over and over again.
One of the big attractions is his eagle hides. Every winter Ole Martin feeds the eagles with foxes, roe deer, hares and moose – mostly roadkills from the area’s rich wildlife.
Between 5 and 7 heraldic Golden eagles and another 4-5 just as heraldic Sea eagles show up regularly for a feast. Eagerly watched by representatives of the most dangerous carnivore species on Earth – Mankind.
After a few hours we are rewarded by the arrival of the first impressive eagle.
Images of these regal birds have decorated the standards of Roman legions, the emblems of the Habsburg empire, countless Pharmacies, T-shirts, belt buckles and exists still today in many national flags – the Spanish for example.
And there they are, alive and real, only 10-15 metres away. Through the binoculars or the camera telephoto lens we get a very intimate and close look. Strong, almost piercing eyes. Powerful talons, sharp beaks, big wings.
This is the start of a new era in our relation to wildlife. Ole Martin and his colleagues all over Europe are making our wildlife valuable - and accessible to many. Whales, dolphins, seals, eagles, grouse, cranes, swans, geese – suddenly the all get both admiration and a new, quite high price tag alive.
I lift my hat!
Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.