I remember reading somewhere that the wingspan of the white tailed eagle can reach up to 2,5 metres. This is what goes through my mind as I see one heading straight towards me, as I’m sitting in a tiny boat inside the fjord. I’m at Flatanger, and today I’m shooting eagles.
About 3 hours further North-East out from Trondheim, Norway, you can visit Ole Martin Dahle, or “The Eagle man” as he’s also known by. I’m here on a visit with my job, testing some new gear. As I work in a photography store, our focus of the day is of course to shoot the eagles – with our cameras, that is.
The sudden shout of a man breaks through the silence. We all quickly gather ourselves, place ourselves carefully, making sure we’re not blocking the view for one another, but also making sure we’re right where we need to be. A quick glimpse down at the camera, yes, it’s turned on, and all settings are correct.
Click, click, click, click! The only sound is from our cameras as we’re all concentrating. The goal is, of course, to get that one perfect shot. But to be honest, just being right here, right now, experiencing this, is one heck of an adventure itself.
Ole Martin’s company, Norway Nature, is located at Lauvsnes, in Flatanger municipality. Here you can stay in the company’s house, located next to the sea, within a short distance from their boat. This area is absolutely perfect for nature photographers and others who genuinely love nature and animals, and you can get guided tours to see eagles, mooses or go fishing. As Ole Martin has worked closely with these eagles for the last 25 years, he has a great knowledge of these eagles – and they know him.
With a solid background with both photography and nature, Ole Martin is the perfect guide for an adventure like this.
An idea is born
“It all started back in January 2000, when I was feeding up an eagle here in Flatanger. Two British photographers came visiting, and wanted to document this Eagle. However, the weather was not on our side – and in minus 18 degrees they sat in a tent I’d put up for them. It was snowing, and even though they did see an eagle, they ended up with no pictures.” Ole Martin says. The idea, however, was born, and the two photographers saw the potential of returning the following year.
The following winter the two photographers, Peter Cairns and Mark Hamblin returned, and this time their plan turned out to be a success. Not only did they end up with great photos – they also wanted to team up with Ole Martin and offer photo safari for other photographers. “Their photos were spread out throughout the world, and more and more people wanted to join in.”
Continuously their business idea keeps growing, and in 2005 Ole Martin hands in his resignation at work, ready to give this his everything. “From that first visit in 2000 until now we’ve housed guests from 46 different Nationalities”, Ole Martin smiles, “with the newest addition this year from Costa Rica”.
Layering for success
Back to our big day out in Flatanger, where the weather conditions were quite rough, with heavy winds and sideways snow pouring down all day. As we left the house we were all dressed up in matching, high visibility-onesies. Although I did feel like some kind of a Teletubby, this costume also made sure I was warm, and even more important, that I’d float, should I fall into the sea. With temperatures barely above 0 I had no intention of falling in, but nevertheless…
With several layers of wool underneath the overalls I felt ready to seize the day, adamant that being cold is not gonna ruin this experience for me.
From feeding only one eagle, Ole Martin now reports that there’s about 25 pairs of eagles here at Flatanger. “Some of them even catch fish up in the air, and they all have different personalities” he laughs. During our day we’re lucky enough to see several pairs of eagles, and each time Ole Martin makes sure he points out both what direction the eagle is coming in from, as well as when and where he’ll throw out the fish. All that’s left for us to do then is following the eagle closely, doing our best behind the cameras.
I don’t even really notice the snow or cold until we’re heading back in with the boat, that’s how excited I am this day. Soaking wet, with water dripping off from the overalls we’re getting back into the cars, ready to return to the airport.
One of the Swedes in the crew is already planning his return. “I wonder how many people I can manage to gather to return here?” he says, his face all dreamy. “But I think we will go back in spring. Maybe summer. Maybe even later this year?”
About this post
I visited Flatanger as part of my work for Scandinavian Photo. On this specific trip the goal was to test the not yet released (at the time) På Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. The result was published in this blogpost at Photobloggen. (Only in Norwegian, sorry!) I did however find the experience with the Eagles so cool that I decided to share it also with you guys here in this post.