Sweden Revisited Diary

 

At the end of January 2013 i will be re-visiting the fantastic Golden eagle hide of Conny Lundstrom in Northern Sweden. I have been there last February for a couple of days and it was superb! Not only for Golden Eagles but also for bird species like Northern Bullfinch and Black Woodpecker.

I will update my diary on a daily base while at Conny, so stay tuned!

Tuesday 22nd of January 2013

My short trip to Conny Lundstrom's Golden Eagles has started early this morning. I wish i was feeling better because i have come down with a rather nasty flu bug. The alarm went off at 04.00 hours this morning and i was relieved to see that the weather was fine, so no delays at Heathrow.

The British Airways flight left promptly to Stockholm and to treat myself i decided to fly business class. Arrived at 11.00 in Stockholm, bright sunshine and cold. Here i had to wait for 3 hours before i could get my connecting flight to Skelleftea. 

At 16.00 i arrived at Skelleftea. Conny was already waiting and i was introduced to another photographer: Jimmy , who would be staying with me for the duration of the trip.

After a 1 1/2 hour drive we arrived at Conny's house in a small village on the edge of the forest. The eagle hide is just 5 minutes away. After diner we decided to join Conny as he was going to the hide to do some prep work. It was nice to be back. The sky was lit by stars and i took some nice images of the hide in the moonlight.

The Eagle hide at night

 

Wednesday 23rd of January 2013

Not the best night of sleep i have had! At 05.30 out of bed, a quick bite to eat and on the road by 06.00 hours. A beautiful, cold morning. WIll the Eagles show? It has been a little bit hit and miss and since last week, the eagles have not been. Reason could be the cold weather. Like all other birds, Eagles prefer to save energy, especially when it is cold. So instead of flying, they just sit! Eventually they will need to eat, so hopefully they stop by our Eagle hide.

Daylight is still somewhat limited in January. Around 08.30 there is enough light to start to photograph the birds but the sun never really "hits' the sky. 

The first bird to arrive is the Grey Headed Woodpecker! Last year i was able to photograph a superb Black Woodpecker and this year it is the Grey Headed instead. A lovely bird! Other birds that frequent the feeders are Tit species, Jay's, Raven, Common Redpol and plenty of Bullfinches. Last year there were not that many Bullfinches but this year they are in surplus! It is funny how one year differs from another, that i think, makes this hobby so interesting, rewarding and frustrating at the same time! You never know what to expect!

The hide is very comfortable and Conny will do all he can to make you as comfortable as possible. Jimmy is having a real blazed and i swear i saw smoke coming out of his Mark IV Canon body! 

Unfortunately the Eagles don't show, we still have 2 more days and Conny is hopeful that the Eagles will return to feed. We can only hope. By 16.00 we return to the car. It is a cold, wind still evening and the sky is once again lit by stars.

Male Northern Bullfinch

Thursday 24th of January 2013

The usual ritual of getting up by 05.30 and out on the snowy forest roads by 06.00. It is another beautiful morning and it is very cold. We arrive at the hide, turn on the stove and make ourselves comfortable.

I have positioned myself at the furthest photo position. Conny is not joining us today, so Jimmy and myself have a bit more space. It seems the birds are rather slow today. The Bullfinch is always one of the first to arrive at the feeders and at a later stage followed by the other usual suspects like Jays and Tits.

The Jays are further away from the feeders. Conny has hidden some pieces of salmon in the snow and the jays quickly discover this. I decide to trial my 600mm on the Jays as they  bicker over the scraps, giving some nice action shots of the flying  Jays.

The bullfinches are also visiting regularly and give us great opportunities to photograph them. I desperately try to get one in a little snowy fir tree covered with snow, but it has proven a difficult task. They DO sit in it but always chewing on sunflower seeds. Not nice....so will try again tomorrow!

No luck again with the Golden eagles! We do spot a fox with its bushy tail held high in the air. Conny tells us that it is a sign that the Golden eagle is around. The fox does this to protect himself against an Eagle attack.

Light fades already by 15.00 and Conny picks us up around 16.15. Hopefully tomorrow our luck will turn and the Golden eagle will give a little show. Even if the Eagles don't show: i love it here. It is quiet, relaxing and there is always something happening at the hide. 

Flying jay with Canon 1Dx and Canon 600mm version 2

Friday 25th of January 2013

Well lets get the bad news out of the way first. No Eagles showed during my last hide session. Disappointing on one hand but on the other hand: they are wild birds and they can come to the hide whenever they feel like it! Even Conny Lundstrom is suprised that the Eagles haven't shown for so many days. They will be coming for sure but unfortunately for me it will be too late, as i leave for London tomorrow.

The day started off rather overcast and there was a light snow falling. There were far more birds today at the feeders. As usual the Bullfinches were the first to arrive at the feeders and the evening before i put up a little fit tree in the hope they would use it as a perch. Luckily they did! 

The Grey Headed Woodpecker also showed up from time to time and i was able to take some nice pictures. The Jay's were feeding on the salmon and they were often fighting among each other for the scraps. Trying to photograph all this action wasn't very each as the light was so low but i managed to pull off a few acceptable images.

And finally the Redpoll showed up as well. Feeding most of the time on the ground, it would at times perch in a little tree. I was able to pull of a few images of this handsome little bird.

Conny picked us up around 16.15. The moon was up as we headed back to the car. I had a great time Eagles or no Eagles. I can recommend this place. Not only is the Eagle hide reliable for Eagles and other birds, Conny and his wife will do everything to make you at home. Did i mention food? Well trust me; it is top notch! I will be coming back one day for sure.

Common Redpoll

Saturday 26th of January 2013

A 'late" start this morning as i will be returning home. Jimmy has another day in the hide as he leaves for Brussels on Sunday. By 10.00 i am waiting for my flight to Stockholm at Skelleftea airport. No delays and by 11.00 o'clock i am already at Arlanda Airport waiting for my connecting flight to London. i have decided to treat myself to a business class return flight.  it is great to have a bit more space and luxury on the way back to London!

By 17.00 i am back home. This trip was a bit of a disappointment. No Golden eagles but in all fairness: it was just bad luck. Conny Lundstrom"s hide is always very reliable and 3 days should be enought to get some decent images. Last year i also spent 3 days in his hide and came back with great images.

On to the logistics of this trip. The cost for 4 full days at Conny Lundstrom works out about £675 including airport transfer. Accommodation is comfortable and the food superb! I flew British Airways from Heathrow Terminal 5, return was approximately £250 (Business class upgrade return was £160).

Connecting flight was with SAS, cost was £220. I decided NOT to fly with SAS from London Heathrow as SAS flies with Boeing 737 and it feels very cramped. I also find the service on the BA flight better.

Weather was cold and sunny and very little snow. There was no Northern light activity unfortunately. The hide is very comfortable and it is heated as well.

Equipment used; Canon EOS 1DX/Canon EOS5D mark 3 with 600mm with and without 1.4 converter. A shorter lens like a 70-200 zoom recommended.

I would recommend a visit to Conny Lundstrom, is a great place and affordable. If you would like more information or have any questions: drop me an email