Trip to Poland December 2013
Only two weeks to go on my trip to Poland http://warsztatyprzyrodnicze.pl/eng/index.htm, so have been trying to fit my gear into the little cabincase for our fiends "Ryanair" ! 10KG doesn't give you a lot these days, my 300 f2.8 and 1D mk4 +7D and small wide angle lens = 10 kg !
Sat 30th Nov .Big day finally comes, up at 04:00 for 07:30 flight from Prestwick with good old Ryanair ! 04:30 text from Mark Molloy arrives...on the way mate see you at 05:00 ish...Taxi booked for 05:30, bags packed to the gunnels and passport ready ! We arrived at the airport and after a painless check in (10kg spot on, lucky for me ! ) we proceeded to security check. Gone were the days when pretty girls ushered you on board, as we were met with some determined security staff... Mark went first through the metal checker thing, he was zapped and a full body probe ensued ! Luckily I passed through unmanhandled but not without my camera gear being checked for drugs etc. Onto the plane and after a short delay we were on our way, Poland here we come. Great flight apart from some clear air turbulence, and we were met by our driver who held out an Eagle picture for us to identify him. Leaving Modlin airport we sped to Warsaw to collect Rich and Greig who arrived at Chopin Airport from London the day before. After a short drive we collected them and proceeded to the farmhouse, some two hours North West. On arrival we were well fed with an abundant variety of smoked meats freshly shot and prepared by the host. Most Polish country folk are hunters and deer and boar are readily available. Better than Tesco's turkey twizzlers any day and a lot healthier too ! Marcin who runs the hides gave us a brief on what to expect etc. We retired to bed around 21:00 for breakfast at 05:00 . The rooms were warm and spacious, but a strange bed is never the same is it ? Breakfast consisted of bread and cheese with copious quantities of smoked meat ! No milk or cereals to be seen but we filled our faces anyway, well apart from me who doesn't like smoked meat :-( Packed lunch was provided ...bread, cheese ( didn't we have that for breakfast ? )and oh yes... smoked meats again. 05:45 and the driver arrives to take us to the hides some 10 mins away, it's still pitch black and torches were at the ready.
Day 1 in the hide 1st December
As we approached the field we expected an 800 metre walk, luckily we drove right up to the hides and entered under torch light. The hide was spacious, and a gas heater was available....guess what, we turned it on :-) Setting the tripods up under torchlight took a little while, I don't use a tripod very often so I was last to set up. The other guys had 600 mm lenses with full frame and crop camera bodies as an option. My 300 mm and 1.4 x converter gave me 560 mm full frame equivalent and f/4 so we were all similar for reach. It was still pitch black outside as we waited with anticipation. There were no perches in the field which was baited with a meaty mixture for the eagles, and we only dreamed of this type of shot........
Tension mounted as the sun rose behind us, we could here eagles calling.... as if from nowhere several White tailed eagles landed some 100 metres in front of us. The light was improving but ISO and shutter speeds were reversed ! Within an hour or so thirty eagles were feeding and fighting within 50 metres, frame fillers everyone of them.
It was hard at times to get the whole bird in, the 300 mm was soon to be the weapon of choice !
By 11:00 the birds had fed and started to depart to nearby fields as a light shower peppered the sky. The forecast was spot on so far with the next three days expected to be sunny and dry. The packed lunch of cheese and bread ( yes I had that for breakfast too! ) kept us going, washed down with sugary black tea. At 14:00 the eagles returned giving us more fabulous close ups.
16:00 and the driver returns for us, gear packed we head back to the farmhouse where dinner was being served. A fine selection of smoked meats :-( was laid before us. Potatoes with pheasant giblet stew and soup was on offer, washed down with a bottle of the finest Polish beer.
We were all tired, and retired around 20:00 for another early start.....
Up at 04:00, chatted for a while and sat down for breakfast with the other guys. A fine selection of smoked meats awaited us........... not again !
What I would give for corn flakes, toast and honey and some fruit !! Greig made sure the meat wasn't wasted as I forced another cheese roll down my throat.. life is tough when you are 99% vegetarian. 05:45 and the driver ( nice guy called Yetti :-) ] arrives and after a speedy run we arrived at the hides for day 2. There were two hides and Mark and I took the large one after winning the toss the night before ( that double sided coin works wonders) The eagles arrived on queue at 07:30 and we filled our CF cards till 11:00 when they all flew away ! Packed lunch beckoned and I force another cheese roll down....... yes breakfast all over again ! They never reappeared in the afternoon so buzzards, jays and distant harrier shots kept us amused with a pair of far off roe deer. I am surprised there were any deer left as the farm house host had 123 Roe buck heads hung up from the rafters and surrounding walls in the dining room !
16:00 and Yetti arrives to pick us up. We exchanged tales of fighting eagles and harriers, oh! and not forgetting Rich's shrike photo.
Back at the farmhouse we sat down for dinner, smoked meats....... but thankfully some nice veggies, potatoes, salad and chicken soup.
The bottled beer was most welcome and we collected cameras to view the spoils. Some great pics by everyone today so tomorrow would be a bonus......or would it ?
21:00 and we retired to bed for another early rise.
Breakfast time...... you guessed it. No wonder I was having strange dreams with all that cheese
Yetti picks us up 05:45 sharp. We arrive at the hides, Mark and me in the small one this time.
The eagles decided to fly off at sunrise... strange we thought? We suspected that they were feeding in the nearby fields which were being ploughed up. A quiet day followed and we were not happy bunnies, but you have to take wild creatures as they come :-)
17:00 Dinner was served and a nice choice of veggies and salads were laid before us, including wild boar and pheasant. I am sure our host's gun was still smoking ! We were in for a treat tonight, no there weren't any dancing girls.... Marcin who runs the hides had a slideshow presentation for us. We were not to be dissappointed as Poland's Nature was brought to life before our eyes. Well done Marcin, a super show !!
A red letter day 4th December......videos and photos like the one below that we had only dreamt of !
I won't bore you with breakfast details...............I guess you know by now :-)
We arrived at the hides at 06:00 as usual, pitch black and torches at the ready. We all used the large hide on this our last day, plenty of jokes and whinging etc. would follow as per usual . Mark had previously the night before asked Marcin to put out a perch for us, well not for us exactly..........more for the eagles, well you know what I mean..or maybe not :-) The one above was placed some 30 metres out from the hide and we waited in anticipation all morning. A few birds were well out but not too interested in feeding never mind perching ! I suggested in frustration that the perch in question was frightening the birds away as none came within 150 metres of us.
It's just as well I didn't move it, as suddenly around 13:00 in good light the beauty above landed on the ground and ran towards the perch. Nobody dared take a shot in case the noise frightened it away ( those Nikons are noisy, only joking Mark ! ) as it approached the perch . Suddenly it jumped up onto it and the sound of shutters was almost deafening ! This super raptor posed and preened on the perch in the sun for 32 minutes, what a star! We took around 1000 photos between us, Rich and I took f/36, f/40 shots for fun. Some nice video too of it preening and stretching. Many more nice pics followed on this our final day, including some fun shots from the hides. At one point I took a fancy to Marks Nikon gear but it must have been hypothermia creeping in ;-)
We returned for dinner at 16:30 as usual, very happy and ready for the journey home in the morning.
05:00 and following breakfast......don't ask ....... we headed for the airports at Modlin and Chopin respectively. A blizzard had diverted flights from the night before and we were concerned about our journey. A huge storm had just hit Scotland and was heading towards Poland. We checked in our bags, no problems, but this time it was my turn for the full Polish security probe ! Note to self..... do not wear photography trousers with 22 zips when going through airport security !! As we touched down at Prestwick there were no trains or buses due to the storm, and a welcome taxi took us back to Ayr. As it turned out, Poland was hit by a snow blizzard and we would have been stuck there for days..........all those cheese rolls for breakfast too:-)
Fantastic images and account of your trip guys,was wondering where all these Eagle images on flickr were coming from ;o)
A fantastic trip with good company.Hungary here we come and this trip promises to be every bit as good and even better breakfasts..lol
Fantastic mate and a true account of our trip to Poland.Only thing i would say is that i almost had you turning your back on the inferior Cannon camera in favour of the stunningly good Nikon..lol...
Looking good mate, heres hoping we get a bit of snow for our trip. I cant wait now!
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