It was in spring, in the first part of May, when the luckiest week so far had taken place. I had started actively searching for wildlife for two months until this moment, but I refer to this moment that I’m going to describe as the hook-up moment.
The weather was wonderful, sunny but not too hot, just like a perfect day of spring, so after I had finished work I took my camera and decided to go for a walk in the woods near the place where I live. It is not a big wood but I for sure can find some wildlife in it.
When I am walking in the woods, I have a very slow pace, with every little sound distracting my attention and making me curious about its source. Even though I was trying to be as stealth as possible and blend in, a medium-sized animal managed to spot me before I could spot him and immediately started running in the opposite direction. While it was running it started making a barking sound so I have realized it is moats likely a male European Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus). I have decided to continue my journey in the direction where the deer run away, without making hopes that we will meet again.
While scanning the sight, I had noticed a big mosquito-like creature resting on a tree and I have decided to photograph it with my phone as I was not yet aware that I could do that with the ‘’big’’ lens also if I leave proper space between me and the subject. It was actually a member of the Crane-fly family (Family Tipulidae) which resembles a mosquito with big legs, and it is very difficult to identify to the species level because the family contains around 13500 species. It is no need to panic when you see one as it doesn’t suck blood like a mosquito, actually, it doesn’t even feed in the adult stage. Their adult lifespan is between 10-15 days and they use all this time to reproduce. They only feed in the larvae stage and two common European Crane flyes Tipula paludosa and T. oleracea are actually agricultural pests in Europe because they feed on the roots, killing the crops. Since the late 1900s, Tipula paludosa and T. oleracea, have become invasive in the United States.
I was just turning a little to change the angle of the shot when the deer that I’ve previously startled, noticed me again and of course running away again. In all the time I have stayed in the forest I have heard a lot of birds and had noticed that if I stay still, I have a bigger chance that a bird will come close to me so I can photograph. I managed to get a decent shot of the Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) which was gathering material for building its nest. It nests in old woodpecker holes or naturally created holes and if the entrance is too big, the female plasters it with mud to reduce its size. They usually feed on insects but in autumn and winter, they supplement their food with seed and nuts. It is a well-spread bird, with a large population, it has interesting colors and pretty loud calls but it is not that easy to see in a forest because of her small body size and agility.
Another small body-sized bird, also common and widespread, not quite so colored but still interesting, is the Eurasian/Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). It is actually a really small bird, 9-10.5 cm long and 6-10 g, but for its size, it has a voice that it 10 times louder, weight for weight, than a rooster. The male sings his long and complex vocalizations from an exposed perched just like the one that I’ve captured in the photos. Another interesting fact about this bird is that the male builds up to 6-7 nests from which the female chooses one turning it into an active nest. The male can have more than one nest active on its territory, that being because Wrens are highly polygamous.
The spot from where I’ve photographed the Wren was also the spot where the moment that hooked me happened. I was continuing my quest in the forest when the same bark that I’ve heard before came from maybe 10 meters away from me but covered by some bushes. After a short startle, I have quickly realized that the roe deer that I’ve scared before was in front of me and this time It didn’t notice me. I hid after one tree, got down on my knee and stopped doing any sound in hope that he will pass in front of me. He sure did that and I immediately pushed the shutter button getting the nice pictures that you see. Even though it is a common species here in Denmark, and I have seen it many many times, I am always glad to spot it and photograph it. But this moment was toughly special for me as I was so close to him and for a moment he looked at me that continued to walk back and forward for few minutes, I felt a buzz, I was full of adrenaline, I felt a deep connection and immersion in nature. It was the moment that hooked me into wildlife spotting, wildlife photography and definitely realized that viewing animals in their natural habitat, without disturbing, is one of my greatest pleasures if not the greatest.
This story should be enough to end this article but the title is the luckiest week not day. The second day after the forest walk, the weather was still nice so together with a friend who’s also into photography we went on a walk on the Brabrand and Årslev lakes near Aarhus. We found multiple bird species, some distant rabbits and a deer. I will not present them all here, you will have to go on Inaturalist and you will find them there.
Perching in the trees and the reed close to the lake was the Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), a summer visitor to the Northern parts of Europe. The male of this species, like the one in the pictures, have a distinctive black and white head and rusty brown and black streaked underparts. They use insects to feed their chicks otherwise they consume seeds.
While walking around the lakes we suddenly spotted a big bird hovering in the sky. We started photographing before we even figured what exactly is. After taking some shots the bird flew away and looking at the screen of the camera which gave us the chance to enlarge the photo, I had a hint of what species might be but the location seemed strange. When it came flying the second time after a few minutes, it was much closer and this time I was sure that what I see is a White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). I couldn’t believe my luck that I found this impressive, beautiful bird on a lake close to where I live. I always imagined that I have to travel to the Norwegian fiords to see this magnificent bird and here I was after only two months since I’ve bought my zoom lens, photographing it. The White-tailed Eagle is the biggest bird of prey in northern Europe and giving that birds of prey are one of my favorite’s animals, I was stoked to see it.
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For all species found on my spotting adventures, take a look on INaturalist.
The gear that I’ve used for spotting and book for identification, here.