Golden Eagle at fox bait in Norway

Golden EagleIs it possible to observe and photograph Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) at the bait in wintertime in good numbers with good reliability? Is this possible in Europe? Yes, it is!

Ole Martin Dahle, known as the Eagle Man, has several hides out in the wilderness of Norway. Having been spent one week on invitation of Ole Martin Dahle has been very productive – as you can see in the gallery. Ole offers Wildlife Workshops but also the chance to sit in one (or more) of his hides located on mountain ridges or in the middle of pine forests. It is also possible in winter to go out in the fjord for White-tailed Eagle-photography.

Ole managed to lease attractive properties over the last years, other locations he owns by himself. Consequently, there are ideal conditions for a photographic passion to shoot images of wild birds on close distance.

In wintertime the chances to shot breath-taking images of Golden Eagle are unrivalled. Here in the wilderness of mid Norway the eagles find their bait for years already. It is said, that nowhere else in Europe you will find a better location to shoot images of the Golden Eagle on close distance. Feeding, flying or fighting with each other. Within a few meters only, the Golden Eagle exposes itself for feeding on a bait or perch right in front of the hide to relax. Excellent frame-filling shots in absolutely natural landscape are guaranteed. But these are not the only birds, which are “shootable” with Ole Dahle´s help. Raptor photography is not new for, as you can see on this blog concerning Common Buzzard in wintertime. But the Golden Eagle is the ultimate trophy!

To test what is said in the Internet about the Eagle-Man and his treasures, a trip in the darkest time of winter – end of November – was scheduled. The first day of the trip was planned for Golden Eagle photography. With a fellow guy from Norway we make our way early in the morning (6:30) from Ole´s guest house. It is darker than dark and still (or again) snowing. But now, we are in the hide. Early start ís a must in Golden Eagle photography as we had to get inside the hide before the first light. That way we wouldn’t disturbed the birds and keep them from visiting the bait. We sit there in the pre-dawn darkness, drinking coffee and chatting quietly until we hear – nothing. So we both decide for a short nap on the conveniently looking campbed. With the sky getting brighter every passing minute, we start to see a silhouette of snow-covered mountains in front of us and nervously begin to wait for Golden Eagles. Then again drinking coffee and chatting quietly until we hear something. This time, there are whoops of a big bird. Yes it is a circling Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Fiercely a juvenile eagle with its white tail base flies over the area with the Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) and disappears again behind the snowy ridge.

It does take long till another visit of a Golden Eagles could be appreciated. This time a juvenile individual just sits on a pine tree before disappearing again. The eagle did not even try to pick through the frozen fur of the fox.

At midday, we had been staring out from the wooden hide at a dead fox lying on a snow and a Black Grouse laid over a branch of a dwarf pine tree for the best part of five hours when real action started – besides the coming and going of the Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius).

By now it was 1:00 pm and we had been in the hide since well before dawn so as not to betray our presence to any eagles that might be in the vicinity. The wind had been blowing fiercely already the wholte day and we had seen Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) and Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus) only. Then from out of nowhere an eagle lands on the pine tree where it begins to feed on the Black Grouse put out as the 2nd bait this morning. The eagle was first struggling with the feathers. Another eagle flies in und they are fighting a bit for the grouse until one sit besides screaming and the other takes the whole prey when it manages to get the bait untight. Then, the hungry eagle turns its attention to the fox although it is not easy to get much meat from the frozen carcass.

The light is fading quickly again. Than, another hungry eagle show-up and lands on the fox. This time it is a mature bird. The colors were more concolor and the tail completely dark. Immediately it turns its attention to the fox and without any hectic take the meat from the frozen carcass. There is a tangible holding of breath from us inside the hide as suddenly the eagle eyes us suspiciously. But it soon relaxes to feed again. Each time the eagle pauses to look up between feeds, a simultaneous volley of shots is the answer. Although our cameras had been firing noisily throughout; the noice do not scare the eagle away.

It is an impressive bird, almost certainly a female judging from its large size. I takes several variations standing on the fox. The windswept snow looks great as it rushes past the eagle, at times almost diluting the autofocus of the EOS from focusing. It becomes dark again when this last eagle – obviously more or less stuffed – leave the dead fox. The last feeding eagle is already gone as Ole Martin Dahle appears to collect us because by now the light is dimming quickly. It had been a long and mostly uneventful day, as is often the case when photographing wild eagles. Ok, this is wilderness! But the time when the Golden Eagle appeared turned to be out as excellent. Almost 3,000 shots were taken. And this is only the first day.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to remote places like the the coastal mountains of western Norway or to tourist spots like the island of Norderney to capture images of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice images you find in the gallery are only a first impression, what you will find in the in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give me a message, if we could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

Other successful shootings you can see under:

1 comment

  1. Dear Ole Martin Dahle ,
    I am interested in booking with you for a short golden eagle on bait photo tour ( 2017 ) . What price for a 3 day tour please ? I What is the best time of year for this please and is there a possibility of seeing if it is possible to tie in with other sought after species ( e.g. owls – maybe from hides ?) at this time of year ?

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