Saturday, 21 September 2013

Hide and seek

Following a couple of uninspiring (from a photography viewpoint anyway) days around Matsalu, we headed east to the Alutaguse Forest where there are some hides to watch and photograph bears from.  Arriving at 4.30pm, we met Ahto, the guide who handed us the keys and directions to the hide and we set off, and after a bit of a walk found our accommodation for the night, a wooden hide with bunk beds.  Before we had even got our camera gear set up we had our first visit from the local Raccoon Dogs, curious but fantastic animals that looks like some sort of cross between a Raccoon and a Badger.

During the evening we had up to four of these at any one time, and after a couple of hours we also had a visit from a young Red Fox, who although unsure about the Raccoon Dogs at first, eventually came down for scraps.

As the light faded just before 8pm, the unmistakable dark shape of a rather large male Brown Bear appeared at the back of the clearing.  Although there is a solar powered light illuminating an area where the main bait had been hidden, from a photography point of view, it was as good as pointless trying to get any photos but I managed one in the gathering gloom.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Rockin Bullwinkle

Having looked for them in British Columbia and in the Adirondacks of North America without any success, Moose (or Elk depending where you hail from) have taken on something of a mythical status. It was surprising then that on our first morning in Estonia, we actually saw some, two to be exact, right next to a main road on the edge of Matsalu National Park.  At first they were unconcerned by me swinging the car round and parking opposite them but they soon ran across the clearing and into the trees before I could get my camera prepared (despite the moose crossing signs, I hadn't actually expected to see one!), but thankfully Toni was a bit quicker on the draw and managed a series of shots.

The rest of the day was spent in Matsalu, visiting the various observation towers, which although fine for viewing birds from a distance, are next to useless if you actually want to photograph anything.  An unidentified Spotted or Lesser Spotted Eagle over the road which drifted off before I could get a proper look and a few distant White-tailed Eagles sat on rocks in the bay were about the day's avian highlights.