For days I have been watching White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) on a lake in the middle of Brandenburg to find their preferred resting places. Some immature young eagles (around 3 to 4 years old), with almost white tails, playfully train their reactions in the air. In autumn, flocks of unpaired, immature White-tailed Eagles roam around. I have set myself the not-so-easy task of taking photos at a bathing or drinking spot of the White-tailed Eagles. A and that without the usual support as a bait facility. If you have set yourself up for something like this, you should know for sure that the eagles will really come close to the hide, otherwise the long preparatory work would be in vain. It decided for the construction of a reed hiding place. The construction must take place at a time when the White-tailed Eagles do not appear. A suspicious look at the sky from time to time is certainly helpful. After all, the camouflage hide is perfectly adapted to the landscape. Now it is time to let a few days pass. Then you can dare to spend the first day in hiding.
The first day in the hide. After a while bird activity rose. First, a common buzzard (Buteo buteo) came near the hiding place. A little later other birds. Including a Common Raven (Corvus corax) and then a group of Hooded Crows (Corvus cornix). White-tailed Eagles were not among the visitors in front of the hide.
On the fourth day of the stay, I have been hiding for six hours already and wonder whether I should not stop this attempt as well. If I finish now, I could slowly bring my battered body back into a stretched position. But the light in the late afternoon of this sunny, slightly hazy autumn day is so beautiful that I decide to stay a while longer. And it is a good decision, because no sooner had I made it than I heard a noise that I know very well. A three-year-old White-tailed Eagles has settled in the shallow water close to the hide and chased away the indignant Hooded Crows. He looks up with bristling plumage. This is actually an unmistakable sign that there is something else. Maybe a “colleague” who wants to join him? I wait in a tense posture and don’t dare move the lens, let alone trigger the camera.
But the eagle is just too close! So I move the lens very, very slowly, almost a millimeter in the direction of the eagle and promptly miss the arrival of the second White-tailed Eagle, which lands right next to the first. This time a five-year-old bird with an almost pure white tail. I finally have both White-tailed Eagles in the viewfinder.
Two more White-tailed Eagles playfully bump into the bathing enthusiasts and finally settle down as well. They don’t waste a glance at the telltale lens from my hiding place. One after the other, other eagles land on a sandbank in the water at their drinking and bathing area. After half an hour there are 7 White-tailed Eagles that have appeared. The two eagles in front of my hiding place take a long time drinking and then take a long bath. They turn on their own axis, stretch their fangs and shake their plumage so that the water droplets float like fountains glittering in all directions. It is a real gathering of thugs. The ruffled plumage of the head reveals tension, which soon dissolves in a playful scramble.
And that with a nice, soft light! The sun is sinking more and more in my back towards the horizon. I have no more than one hour to enjoy the eagles in good light. But experience shows that they don’t stay that long anyway. No food will keep them in place, and when they have quenched their thirst and satisfied their desire to swim, the birds will disappear again.
If you are so close to the sea eagles, you become aware of the beauty, the impressive power but also the captivating elegance of these magnificent birds. Thank goodness the endangered species was saved at the last hour before extinction.
I am very happy when one White-tailed Eagle after another says goodbye to the bathing area. The light of the setting sun drives them to their sleeping places on the surrounding trees.
After the White-tailed Eagles was threatened with extinction in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, the populations have fortunately recovered thanks to numerous protective measures. A third of all German White-tailed Eagles live in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. There the White-tailed Eagles can be found on almost all larger bodies of water, for example in Mecklenburg Schweiz (Switzerland), in the Müritz National Park and on the larger lakes of the entire Mecklenburg Lake District. As the largest bird of prey in Northern Europe, the White-tailed Eagles always build its huge nests near water.
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