Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is home to a vast number of species, our photography tour enables you to spend a week in this amazing location, seeking photographic opportunities with almost 380 species, these species fly from distant places like Siberia & Central Asia specifically in winter. Migratory birds at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary include several species of Cranes, Pelicans, Geese, Ducks, Eagles, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Wagtails, Warblers, Wheatears, Flycatchers, Buntings, Larks & Pipits.
When you think of India, you instantly think of the tiger, but like Bharatpur, the Little Rann of Kutch is a delight for those wishing to capture images of birds & other lesser-known species, including the wild ass & desert fox. Our photography tour to Bharatpur also includes a pair of days at Blackbuck National Park; Blackbuck National Park also known as Velavadar National Park a beautiful sanctuary created for saving the Blackbucks.
Japan, what haven’t we said before about Hokkaido that can’t be said again – Japan & particularly Hokkaido is just amazing for photography in the winter, perfect for you if you want to capture images of the Steller’s & White-tailed Sea Eagles on snow, Red-crowned Cranes dancing together, Ural Owls huddled together in trees or the Whooper Swans on a frozen lake.
No photography tour to Japan in winter is complete without a visit to the Snow Monkeys – although we would be first to admit that you don’t need to spend too many days there, it would be crazy to miss out on the Japanese Macaques & their thermal pool.
Finally, Sri Lanka, this is a photography tour that features so many species, our photography tour includes boat trips to search for the elusive Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin & the massive super pods of Spinner Dolphins, Sperm Whales & possibly Orcas, Short Finned Pilot Whales, Risso Dolphins, Brydes Whale & other marine species. Wilpattu for Leopard & Sloth Bear, Yala for the leopards & other jungle wildlife. River cruises to see the Saltwater Crocodiles, nighttime spotting of sea turtles & the opportunity to photograph blue whales from the air. Continue reading →
For 2021, if you want a wildlife photography tour that has everything included, you’d do a lot worse than taking a look at the following trio of what we would call our best value wildlife photography holidays – all are in Spain, all are full-board with all meals included & wine & beer with the meals too. Two are for the summer while the middle one is for the Winter.
The tremendous Birdlife of Central Spain
The first wildlife photography experience is the 2021 visit to the tremendous Birdlife of Central Spain, for the wildlife of the estate of El Taray, 2019 saw some fantastic species photographed including the Stone Curlew, a superb Lesser Kestrel colony & some stunning Marsh Harriers – plus a lot more besides. We’ve written about the experience before & we previously published a number of blog posts relating to the 2019 visit as well
The format for the first of our best value wildlife photography trips is a 7-night stay – with that stay being on the estate in the fantastic venue of the large house that overlooks much of the estate. Each day starts early with a light breakfast, then a trip to the chosen hide for the morning session, as the light turns & photography becomes less than optimal, you are collected from the hide, returned to the house in the centre of the estate, after everyone has returned a delicious lunch is served.
Later, after a couple of hours rest, each photographer is taken to one of the hides for the late-afternoon session – this session continues until last light, after pick-up & returning to the house, a fantastic evening meal is served. This is the format for each of the days on the estate, not only that, we include transport by minibus from Madrid Airport to the estate & the return at the end of the trip.
We love this nature photography trip due to the variety of hides & birds that you get to capture images of – plus the homely welcome is awesome!
The trip is scheduled for the dates of 27th June – 4th July 2021 & it is currently on offer for £2249 per participant.
The second of our best value nature photography trips is the winter trip to the same location, but during the winter months the wildlife of the estate of El Taray is quite different to that found during our summer visits; this trip, the Winter Birds of Toledo photography holiday, is slightly shorter than the summer wildlife photography experience, with 4½-days of photography & should consist of some opportunities with a selection of stunning raptors in fantastic plumage, with lovely light & muted backgrounds – plus bearded tits in large numbers. Again, this is a full-board trip with all meals included & wine & beer with the meals too.
Whilst the days are shorter, each day starts early with a light breakfast, then a trip to the chosen hide for the morning session, as the light turns & photography becomes less than optimal, you are collected from the hide, returned to the house in the centre of the estate, after everyone has returned a delicious lunch is served.
Later, after a couple of hours rest, each photographer is taken to one of the hides for the mid-to-late-afternoon session – this session continues until last light, after pick-up & returning to the house, a fantastic evening meal is served.
The third photography holiday that we would like to draw your attention to is the fantasticEagles of Extremadura Photography Holiday; if along with other Spanish bird species, Eagles are your thing, specifically, Golden & Bonelli’s Eagles then this is the trip for you – this is a 7-night stay in a renovated casa right in the centre of the estate.
This renovated property is just beautiful, & the accommodation here is provided on a full-board basis – from a light breakfast through to a 3-course dinner with cooked lunch in between; the fridges are kept fully stocked with all manner of drinks, & wine is served with the meals.
Everything is taken care of for you so that experiencing & photographing the species & their environment is all you need to worry about. Again, transfers from the airport to the estate are provided.
The trip is scheduled for the dates of 6th – 13th June 2021 & we have just one place remaining available for £2499 per participant.
We have posted details of a new wildlife photography tour for 2021 that anyone who fancies a trip to photograph the Wildlife Highlights of Costa Rica might want to take a closer look at – of course, this trip is covered by our booking promise – & if it cannot run in 2021, we would hope to run it in 2022 on the same terms & basis.
The trip is a condensed version of our well-regarded Wildlife of Costa Rica tour, we have scheduled this tour for March 2021, the difference is that it is of 11 nights duration as opposed to 15 – it includes the major highlights of the wildlife of Costa Rica, but also includes a brand new area that is not included on the extended tour.
Our invitation is for you to join Ian in Costa Rica for this wildlife photography holiday which encompasses three different areas of this beautiful country.
You will travel from San Jose to Tortuguero, where you will explore the National Park by boat, then to Sarapiqui taking photo opportunities with some of Costa Rica’s iconic species & finally to an area near the Nicaraguan border to complete your portfolio.
The new location is fascinating; it is Tortuguero National Park which is made up of a system of canals, rivers, lagoons, beaches, & dense rainforest; a point of note is that there are no roads in Tortuguero, so all the activities will be taken by boat along the jungle canals! Sarapiqui features in the middle of the trip for several nights; it is in this area that you will capture images of the iconic frogs, toucans, aracari, woodpeckers, some of the many species of hummingbird & the Northern Emerald-toucanet!
The final three nights near the Nicaraguan border include photography of the King Vulture, which is a genuinely splendid looking bird!
The price for this 11-night nature photography adventure on a half board basis, with single occupancy throughout, is £2999. However, if you are a travelling couple or a pair of friends who will book at the same time & share a twin room, you can book places on this tour for £2549 per participant!
We have timed this photography adventure so that you can fly British Airways using direct flights to & from Costa Rica, no need to change planes in the U.S.A., the cost of the flights is currently around £600 which is quite reasonable!
Sri Lanka is an island paradise lined with amazing golden sandy beaches & turquoise blue waters. The oceans are rich with life, & amazing coral reefs. The deeper waters are home to marine giants such as the Blue Whale, the largest animal to have ever lived. It is a country that boasts a rich natural heritage, with amazing wildlife & biodiversity & incredibly, for an island of its size can boast of iconic megafauna such as leopards, elephants & sloth bears. Sri Lanka is also regarded as a biodiversity hotspot teeming with endemic birds, reptiles, amphibians as well as plant species found nowhere else on earth.
Our Sri Lankan nature photography adventure is of 15 nights duration in order to see the best of what this incredible country has to offer, from safaris to Yala & Wilpattu for leopards & sloth bears; Udalwe for jungle cats & Asian elephants; boat trips to see the super pods of Spinner Dolphins & also pods of Sperm Whales, Orcas, Short Finned Pilot Whales, Pink Dolphins & other beautiful cetaceans. We’ve even arranged to take a floatplane out to sea to do aerial photography of blue whales! And if this wasn’t enough, we will also spend one-night photographing sea turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs.
Day 1 – We will be picked up from Colombo airport & taken to our hotel in Katunayake to overnight.
Day 2 – We head to the West Coast in search of the elusive Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin, also known as the Pink Dolphin.
Day 3 – Early morning set out to sea to look for more marine mammals including the massive super pods of Spinner Dolphins. These acrobatic cetaceans are a sight to behold. Further deeper into the ocean, & you will have the opportunity to see pods of Sperm Whales & possibly Orcas, Short Finned Pilot Whales, Risso Dolphins, Brydes Whale & other species. After returning back to dry land, check out from our hotel & head to Wilpattu for lunch & our first game drive.
Days 4 & 5 – Early morning head into the park for a full day safari, which will give you the best chance to truly experience the park. Known as “the land of the lakes”, Wilpattu is one of the top spots in Sri Lanka to see Leopard & Sloth Bear. Other larger animals seen regularly include Asian Elephant, Jackal, Mugger Crocodile, Sambar, Spotted Deer & Buffalo. A variety of raptors such as Crested Serpent, Changeable Hawk & White-Bellied Sea Eagles, Brown Fish Owl can also be seen here along with a large number of water birds & waders.
Day 6 – After a final morning game drive, we head back to Katunayake (approx. 4 hours drive). The remainder of the evening is at leisure.
Day 7 – After checkout, we head towards Yala (approx. 4 hours drive) for lunch & your first game drive. Our lodge is located at a completely different entrance from the main entrance & so it is far less crowded. We will enter the core leopard areas first where most sightings are great with little crowds. Other residents in the park include Sloth Bear, Asian Elephant, Jackal, Sambar, Spotted Deer & Grey Langur.
Days 8 & 9 – For the next 2 days, enjoy some spectacular game viewing during the early mornings & afternoon game drives. To mix things up a little bit, we will also visit a smaller but new section of the greater Yala ecosystem which is also great for Leopards & other wildlife.
Day 10 – After a final morning game drive, we leave Yala & head to Udawalawe (approx. 2 hours drive) for lunch & afternoon game drive to look for Asian Elephants & the elusive Jungle Cat.
Day 11 – After a final morning game drive, we head for the South Coast (approx. 3 hours drive) for a spectacular river cruise where you will be able to photograph giant Saltwater Crocodiles at eye level. These saurian remnants of the prehistoric era can be found in numerous numbers on this riverine ecosystem, from young hatchlings barely a few inches long to giant males who exceed 15 feet!
Day 12 – Early morning whale watching tour in the deep ocean to look for the Blue Whale, Spinner Dolphins, Bryde’s Whale, Sperm Whale, Orca, Risso Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin & Striped Dolphin. Afterwards, we return to dry land & head back to the hotel for a late lunch. As dusk arrives, we will head to the beach for a nighttime spotting of sea turtles. Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles have been recorded coming ashore to lay their eggs at the beach we will be visiting. The Green & Olive Ridley Turtles are the most routinely encountered species, while the Hawksbill, Leatherback & Loggerhead Turtles are also seen intermittently.
Day 13 – An early checkout to head to the airfield where we will board a seaplane to fly over the ocean to photograph blue whales from the air. This is the best way to photograph these enormous leviathans! The flights are 45 minutes per round trip on average, & the plane can take 3 people per flight. After the whole group have covered their flights, we will get back on the road & head towards the lowland rainforests.
Days 14 – 15 – For the next 2 days, our naturalist & local tracker will show us the wide variety of endemic flora & fauna to be found in the main forest reserve. 28 of Sri Lanka’s 34 endemic species may be found here, including the recently discovered Serendib Scops Owl & other rarities such as the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, Chesnut-backed Owlet & White-faced Starling. Other species we may encounter during our rainforest walks include Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Giant Squirrel, Kangaroo Lizard, Hump-nosed Lizard & Sri Lanka Keelback. We will also be keeping an eye out for reptiles such as Green Pit Viper & Hump Nosed Lizard.
Day 16 – Checkout & travel back to Colombo airport for our flights home.
OUR SRI LANKAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY INCLUDES
All accommodation on a shared room, full-board basis starting with dinner on the first night & ending with breakfast on the last day.
Single supplement is available at a cost.
All entrance fees
Safari jeep charges
Boat charter fees
Seaplane charter fees
National Park fees
Driver & Guide
OUR SRI LANKAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY EXCLUDES
Visas (if applicable)
Items of a personal nature
The cost is £6749 for the itinerary shown above – an itinerary that should be packed with amazing wildlife opportunities. If you were wanting the single supplement, that is an additional £750 for the entire trip.
For the launch, we are requiring a £1300 deposit to hold a place. As with all our wildlife photography tours, this is a small group only; just 4-6 photographers plus myself & David &, of course, our local safari guides!
Our new tour to photograph the Winter Pumas of Patagonia is scheduled to run during mid-August 2022 & costs £8499 per person for seven full days of puma spotting, which is more days than comparable trips.
However, if you book & pay your deposit now & we can fill this Puma Photography Holiday prior to October 2020, we can secure 2020 pricing which would drop the cost of this trip down to £6999 which is a saving of £1500!
A full trip is 4 clients – so you should not find this to be a crowded affair.
Patagonia is one of the world’s top wildlife destinations to experience real wildness & also some dramatic wildlife photography. Located between rich subpolar forests & the vast Patagonian steppes, the backbone of the park is the Paine mountain range, with the famous & much-photographed Cuernos (horns) del Paine as its centrepiece. This 2,100 m massive granite formation rises abruptly over the surrounding plains, providing a unique & extremely photogenic backdrop.
Our primary focus on this tour is very much on the resident puma (also known as cougar & mountain lion) population of Torres del Paine National Park & its surrounding areas. We will be working with the local trackers involved in the National Geographic coverage of these magnificent animals. Some of the population are amazingly tolerant to people, so close encounters, while we are on foot, are a genuine possibility. We have deliberately chosen to visit early in the season because there is less traffic in the park & on the ranch & the pumas are a bit more active during the day, which always helps with the photography! Also, if we are lucky, we may have the opportunity to photograph them in the last snows as winter turns to spring.
With glacial forest & stunning mountain landscapes never far away, guanacos, condors, flamingos, grey foxes & torrent ducks among many other species that we may well come across. This is a genuinely fantastic opportunity to experience the very best that this dramatic corner of South America has to offer at a particularly exciting time of the year.
Our photography will take place at the ranch Estancia Amarga, where we are one of the few selected operators allowed to work inside the property & search for puma along the grounds of this magnificent private area, adjacent to the park & now, entirely committed to Puma conservation. This allows us the freedom to hop out of our 4×4 vehicles to walk off trail to get closer to where the pumas have been spotted.
Finding a wild puma in such beautiful surroundings, on foot, with no physical barrier between you & the cat is one of the most exhilarating experiences to be had anywhere in the world.
Day 1: Pick up from the airport & taken to a hotel in Punta Arenas to overnight
Day 2: We leave Punta Arenas towards the north-west towards Torres del Paine National Park. The drive is a scenic one, taking us into the Southern Andes, with fertile valleys & perennial snow-covered peaks. Transfer time from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine is about 5 – 6 hours. As we approach the park, there is always a chance to spot some of the wildlife of the area, & also views of the Torres Peaks. Arrive at our comfortable provincial hotel where we will stay for 8 nights.
Days 3 – 9: Puma spotting. After breakfast, we will take a packed lunch with us so that we can spend the day looking for the pumas. The aim is to be in the field by 9.30 am & back to the hotel by 6 pm each day. We will follow this pattern over each of these seven full days to really maximise our chances of not just encounters, but special ones too. We will be doing this in vehicles & sometimes on foot, in different parts of the area but utilising the services of our trackers who work with pumas throughout the year, so our chances are good. Once we have discovered an individual or family, it will be possible to return to them on an on-going basis.
Day 10: Transfer to hotel in Punta Arenas to overnight.
If Africa, specifically Zambia, Kenya or South Africa is somewhere you would like to take a wildlife photography holiday then we have several new & enhanced offerings for upcoming years, some are general, some are quite specific. In contrast, some have a particular element that the trip is based around.
But First ...
We know that these are unpredictable times & we can’t be sure exactly what’s coming in the future, but we know for sure that adaptability is critical.
With this in mind, we believe that it is only fair to have introduced our booking promise on our wildlife photography trips.
For June 2022, we have a couple of places remaining to join the third week of our newLeopards of Sabi Sands photography holiday. This is something rather special!
Everyone is accommodated in one of five luxury suites, all with en-suite bathrooms. Collectively these suites can accommodate ten people, but we will not be filling the lodge. We will have a maximum of 7 photographers, including any guides, in the safari vehicle so for that reason we will have a maximum of 7 people only in the suites, but it might well be less!
Each guest suite has a secluded plunge pool, expansive viewing deck & freestanding “khaya” – a lounge with a tea & coffee station & wood-burning stove for those cold winter’s mornings & evenings.
The reserve that we are making use of offers more than 7000ha of private land, bordering right onto the western border of the Kruger National Park. This part of the African bush is a hidden gem, offering some of the most beautiful game viewing in Africa. This is the home of the legendary Big Five which roam these unspoilt lands, Lion, leopard, elephant, rhino & buffalo can be spotted from the comfort & safety of our open game viewing vehicles, accompanied by some of the most experienced safari guides & trackers in the business.
For this trip, NaturesLens are incredibly pleased to announce that we have a new guide joining the team, Clint Ralph is a South African wildlife photographer of some note, who knows the reserve & the larger surrounding area very well.
This is a 7-night tour that is conducted on a full-board basis. The launch price is £3749 per person, & we only have places left on the set of dates spanning 25th June – 2nd July 2022 – this will be a fantastic trip that is not one to miss!
Earlier in May 2022, we have got dates & have opened up the bookings for our Zimanga Wildlife Hides & Safaris Photography Holiday. This wildlife photography tour is, again, of 7-night on a full board, shared basis & costs £3749 per participant. A significant change for this tour for 2022 onwards is that the cost now includes all drinks in addition to being full board – & there is a free laundry service throughout your stay at Zimanga!
Of course, Zimanga is famous for overnight photography from the two hides which they have built overlooking waterholes. The overnight hides are equipped with sleeping quarters, a kitchen, seating areas & bathroom, in addition to the photography area.
During the week-long stay, you will undertake five traditional game viewing drives from open safari vehicles, with no more than two photographers per row to ensure maximum comfort & access to the best angles for photography. These are not limited to tracks so that off-roading will give you maximum wildlife photography opportunities.
You will also have at your disposal a range of water-level hides, which are perfectly positioned to capture images of the animals at eye-level.
All these hides have been created with the photographer in mind, providing the optimum structure & positioning throughout the park.
Later in 2022, September specifically, we have obtained dates for the camp which we use in the Maasai Mara. This camp has been designed for the needs of semi-professional & professional nature photographers & wildlife photography enthusiasts.
The camp & the specially adapted vehicles provide the opportunity to get first-rate images of the African Wildlife found within the Maasai Mara. Over this 10-day trip, you should have photographic opportunities with lions, leopards & cheetahs & all the other iconic animals of Africa like elephants, buffalos, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, jackals, warthogs, baboons, zebras, wildebeest & other antelopes such as Thompson’s gazelles, impalas, grants & topis – among many other species. The black rhino is more tricky, but can sometimes be spotted in the Mara Triangle & if you are lucky, you may even see the serval cat. The Maasai Mara is also super-rich with birdlife including eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, vultures, kingfishers, cranes, hornbills, the Secretary bird, ostrich, to name but a few.
During the trip, we will be taking full-day safaris, with early starts to ensure that you have the opportunity to photograph in the best morning & evening light – we will also be arranging off-road licences so that the vehicles can go to the animals, wherever they are!
September is the best month to witness a migration crossing so we will be talking to our guides every morning to get an update on where the wildebeest & zebras are. If there is a strong chance for a crossing, then we will head to the river. If there is not, we will continue with our normal safari activity. This way, you have the best of both worlds, safari game drives with the chance of a crossing if the opportunity arises.
This is a 10-night wildlife photography tour over the dates of 10th – 20th September 2022, it costs £5999 per person, this is the same price as we are conducting this trip for during September 2021 – no price increase!
The unique aspect about this tour is the vehicles that we will have at our disposal, the safari vehicles are based on 4WD Toyota Land-cruiser Long Edition, each has then been modified to give the best working conditions for photographers. They allow you to stay low & get strong & powerful low-angle shots of the wildlife, shooting both ways from the vehicle. They have no back doors, & the floor is extended to 180 cm in width & covered with a soft rubber mat making it comfortable to lie on. Also, the wide-open sides with shallow window frames, no bars & no glass are very convenient for panning & action photography. The vehicles have a pop-up roof, so shooting from the roof, for instance, birds, a leopard in a tree or a cheetah hunting is very convenient. The pop-up roof also provides shade from the sun. Last but by no means least, the cars also have 4-6 power outlets for charging cameras, phones, laptops etc. on the go.
For September 2023, we have just one cottage, that can house a travelling couple or a solo traveller, remaining for our new holiday to the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Over 60 different species of mammal call this National Park their home, drawn by the diverse range of habitats from sandy seasonal river courses to the mineral-rich alluvial floodplains that stretch out to distant blue hills. Predators such as lion, leopard & wild dog stalk the smaller game, while primates such as yellow baboons & vervet monkeys swing through the trees. Down on the River, vast densities of elephant, hippo & crocodile enjoy the cool waters.
It is precisely this environment that we are inviting you to join Pui Hang in for a fantastic nature photography trip that will blow your mind & fill your photographic portfolio.
From the moment you enter the park, elephants, baboons & vervet monkeys seem to be everywhere. Antelopes, zebra & other plains game congregate on the open floodplains & grasslands along the River & its numerous tributaries that course through the park. Large herds of buffalo roam the park, the impala is ubiquitous, the puku, rarely seen outside Zambia, is almost as universal & there are plenty of waterbucks & bushbucks too. The endemic Thornicroft’s giraffe is indigenous to the park, as are Crawshay’s zebra & Cookson’s Wildebeest.
The South Luangwa has become one of the best places in Africa to see wild dogs, with numerous resident packs requiring large traversing areas to hunt. Night drives are renowned for sighting lion on the hunt & leopard (the density of leopards is among the highest in the world). Even rarely seen nocturnal animals like the honey badger, porcupine & civet, are often seen by spotlight.
Birdwatching is superb in the Luangwa Valley; with over 400 species of birds such as Carmine Bee-eaters, Malachite Kingfishers, Lilac-breasted Rollers, Bateleur Eagles, Saddle-billed Storks, Crowned Cranes, Pel’s Fishing Owls & Fish Eagle.
In this remote setting, free from other vehicles, sightings of leopard, elephant, hippo, lion & wild dog are not just rare experiences, but commonplace. Our small group will stay in secluded, intimate camps that are listed in National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, set in glorious surroundings & can accommodate a maximum of just eight guests. Together with the warmest of hospitality, sumptuous meals & first-class guides, these carefully selected bush-camps are the perfect gateway for photographers wishing to explore the spectacular wildlife of the South Luangwa.
Accommodation is on a shared room, full-board basis, but a single supplement is available at a cost. At the bush-camps, drinks are included & there is even a free laundry service. During our 2 week tour, we will stay at Mfuwe Lodge, plus three exclusive Bush-camps.
This is a trip that will fill your portfolio to bursting & if you produce photo-books at the end of tours as we do, this will be a multiple photo-book experience, we guarantee it!
This tour is scheduled for 9th – 22nd September 2023. The cost is £9999 for 14 days & nights of fantastic photography with 24 game-drives, a stay at both the beginning & end of the trip in the tremendous Mwufe Lodge & 9 nights staying in 3 different Bush-camps throughout this African journey.
Ok, let me start by talking about the elephant in the room for the 2020 Birds of the Swedish Winter trip! On this trip, the golden eagles did not visit us, even though they were in the area. There could be a few reasons why this may have happened. We know that one of the male area eagles had gone missing & we believe it may have sadly died. We are patiently waiting to see when another young male eagle takes over its territory. Also, the weather could be some of the reason too, by not being cold enough. The temperature was above zero for a lot of the time, which is too warm for some of the eagles that live in this area to be hungry to come in & feed. There are around five different golden eagle nest sites within this territory. With so many potential eagles to visit, it was extraordinary not to see any at all here on this trip. Sadly, the eagle not showing up has happened only once before around 8-9 years ago during the 35 years Conny has been monitoring & watching the eagles, so it’s uncommon for this to have occurred.
NaturesLens plan this tour for when the eagles are the most likely to come down to the hides which are early March.
Previously, during the 2019 trip the eagles turned up every day, & on some days they turned up once in the morning & again in the afternoon.
There is a silver lining to our seemingly ‘bad luck’ though. With no eagles coming in, other wildlife started to turn up in abundance. We had a mighty female goshawk with us for a good couple of hours, red squirrels would visit every morning, & we had one of the closest encounters with a red fox, the likes of which only happens once in a blue moon!
Let’s get back to my blog about this trip of actually seeing & taking incredible images of the wildlife in a snowy landscape of Northern Sweden.
Our journey started in London, a few of us met at Heathrow airport for our flight to Stockholm & the connecting flight to Skellefteå & finally on to our accommodation by car. The journey went without a hitch, well almost! One of our guest’s bag didn’t arrive at Skellefteå airport, but fortunately, he had his camera bag with him, sadly he had a few items missing. I managed to sort everything out for our first photographic day, & the next day his bag was at the house we were staying at, so all was good. This is one of the duties of a guide, to make sure we help & take as much stress out of a trip as possible when things sometime don’t go according to plan!
Day One – This was spent photographing anything that moved. It was good to get it out of everyone’s system! But during the latter part of the day when everyone was more relaxed, I noticed a big ‘wildlife shaped’ object had arrived. Too small for an eagle but large enough to be a raptor. As I looked closer, I could see it was a Juvenile female goshawk that had flown in. Wow! We gently took a few images as she fed – you can see these below but also above at the top of this blog posting. She came closer, & she was with us for almost 2 hours in the end. What an encounter, & that doesn’t often happen at all!
After that, it was time to get picked up, taken back to the house & for us to be treated to a home-cooked meal. Bedtime was soon upon us as we had an early start of 4.30 am for breakfast & to be in the hide by around 5.15 am before it got light. The hide is heated, & it was my job to make sure everyone was nice & toasty & to stoke the fire on occasions to make sure it was warm enough which would be the pattern for the rest of our trip.
Day Two – Once in the hide at around 5.15 am, we waited for the sun to rise. It wasn’t long before we were treated to a very friendly red squirrel that would sit & eat, then move around & appear somewhere else nearby, giving us some great opportunities for beautiful images. Approximately 10 am the snow started to fall, & we began to get some ‘Christmas card’ images of the smaller birds, like the fantastic bullfinch & great spotted woodpeckers. Then we had our most memorable encounter of this trip—a stunning red fox.
The fox stayed a distance away to start with, which is normal. In the wintery landscape with the snow falling, the red fox was looking incredible, & everyone had a massive grin on their face. Then the fox started to move towards the hide.
This is very uncommon. In fact, the last time a fox came close to the hide was December 2019! Everyone got some unique close-ups which hardly anyone else gets, so day two was awesome!
Once back in the house having our evening meal, the conversation was all about the fox! It was soon bedtime because again we had an early start of a 4.30 am breakfast & then a short trip in the car to the hide so we would be in there by 5.15 am.
Days Three & Four – Both days were sunny days warm for Northern Sweden, about 1 or 2 degrees above freezing. We were still hopeful an eagle would show up, but alas this is wildlife, & nothing can be guaranteed. We were treated to the red squirrel again, this time as the sun rose.
This gave the images a beautiful warm glow against the snowy floor. Another species which is hard to predict if it will be around is the grey-headed woodpecker.
Both the male & female, which are not always common to see here, put on an excellent show for us by moving from an old birch tree to other areas giving us great views & photographs.
There were also lots of bullfinches, greenfinches, willow tits, great tits, blue tits, great spotted woodpeckers, red poles & jays to keep us occupied too. We decided to try & get some of these smaller birds in flight which is much harder than eagles! We all had some success, & with the amount of activity from the birds, there was always something to photograph. We stepped outside to capture images of the starry night sky from the house we were staying in on a clear evening after dinner too.
After day 4 in the hide was over, & again the day was filled with lots of active wildlife to photograph throughout the whole day, it was back to the house to have our last evening’s lovely home-cooked meal & discuss the entire trip. It’s fair to say that everyone did have a fantastic time, even though it was slightly disappointing the eagle didn’t show – well it did on a trail cam the day we were leaving. Leaving the area knowing this was bitter/sweet. Still, at least a female golden eagle is doing fine, & myself & the guests didn’t mind as we had had some extraordinary encounters, not many people get to experience. There is always next year, I guess!
Join Conny & Robin, both veterans of the Swedish Winter, both members of the NaturesLens guiding team, from the 2nd-7th March 2021 in Skellefteå on this 5-night photography tour to Sweden.
You will spend full days in the hides, making the most of the changing light conditions throughout the day to take the most spectacular photographs of the visiting wildlife.