Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Simon Green

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Thomas Andersson

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Simon Green

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Magnus Martinsson

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Pascal Favre

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Magnus Martinsson

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Pascal Favre

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Pascal Favre
Rough-legged Buzzard
photography




Close to Rough-legged Buzzards

Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) breed in the northern mountains of Scandinavia. In autumn they migrate south, some fly as far as to the Balkans, some stay in central Sweden. It is not a rare winter bird in Sweden, although they vary a great deal in numbers between years, but they are generally NOT easy to approach. That´s why we have created a Buzzard-restaurant, where Rough-legged Buzzards come and feed on a regular basis. In front of it there´s an old wooden haybarn, that´s been standing there for more than a hundred years. We converted the barn into a photo-hide where 3 persons can sit comfortably and study/ film/ photograph the birds at close range. The Buzzards are not quite as touchy as the Eagles, but it´s still very important to be still and quiet during the time spent in the hide. The Rough-legged Buzzard is a beautiful raptor with a contrasting plumage of creamy white and buffy parts, darker back and belly and a black and white tail. Individuals vary a lot in coloration, also with age. The R-L Buzzards are quite "showy” raptors with an own appeal and appearance, they often raise their wings (a bit like a butterfly) to try and scare away corvids from their food, they also often appear and reappear several times a day on the feeding station. That means they provide lots of interesting photographic opportunities. They usually come 25 meters from the hide to perches set up in different angles, but can also appear even closer.
Here in the open culture landscape of the Black River Valley light conditions are good, without any higher vegetation on the sun side of the hide. The hide is facing northwards so you have the light with you during the whole winter´s day. Our haybarn stands in the rough zone of grassland between birch forest and farmed fields, with a few scattered willows, the natural hunting habitat for the Rough-legged Buzzards. The back-drop is distant and mostly birch forest. We feed the Buzzards small portions of meat on a platform in eye-level with the hide, at times also on the ground, no big carcasses that attracts Eagles that could scare away the Buzzards. Goshawks and occasionally Eagles do however turn up anyway. Usually they co-exist or take turns quite well, mostly the Rough-legged Buzzard is the only raptor in view, together with corvids and passerines.

The hide is well insulated, have a gas-heater and a loo. Despite (sometimes many) degrees below zero outdoors, the temperature reaches + 15-20 C indoors. You sit comfortably in easy chairs. In the logbook you can read testimonies from previous clients.

When? How? For whom?
Season: November - March. We guide you out to the hide in the early morning and introduce you the hide and it´s functions, naturally we light he heater for you. Depending on the snow situation, the walking distance is from almost nothing to 400 meters across open fields on a dirt track (usually cleared from snow). A normal session is a full day - afternoons often productive too, we collect you at the end of the day unless we agree on something else. This activity is designed for photographers/ filmmakers and requires patience and is usually very rewarding.

Where?
The Buzzard haybarn lies in the open farmlands of the Black River Valley in Västmanland. A distant road is barely within view, the site is a bit beyond villages and farmsteads with just a small tractor-track leading past and ends at the forest. The risk for human disturbance is not non-existing - we are after all in a populated area - but we put a lot of effort into communicating with the landowners, hunters and neighbours and always send out info on sms to them when we have people in the hide.

Did you know that...
The Rough-legged Buzzard breed in the mountains and taiga of the north of Scandinavia, Russia and parts of northern North America. The swedish population is estimated to 3.000 pairs and largely depends on the lemming and vole populations in the breeding areas. Poor years they might not breed at all, good years they compensate by raising more offspring. The nest is usually placed in a steep rock (not necessarily the most impressive ones), in an old pine tree or sometimes even on the bare ground, but prefers rocky habitats. The female lays between 1 and 7 eggs, mostly 3-5. They can live to 19 years of age in the wild, although a female in a zoo in Idaho lived to 25. Buzzard mortality is often human inflicted like collisions with power-lines, wind farms, buildings, vehicles or illegal hunting/ poisoning. Not very common in Sweden though. In winter they mainly feed on rodents in open grasslands and can also take to carcasses and roadkills. Buzzards migrate south mainly during october when they can start to set up winter territories, that they stay very true to during a winter and sometimes several years. The first two winter-seasons we fed them here - 2016-2018 - we believe one bird - a female - came to the food regularly throughout the winters. From mid-late March they start to become more independent and will soon migrate northwards.

Juvenile or adult?
Rough-legged Buzzards vary a lot in plumage, are quite possible to identify to age and sex and hence, often to individual. Young ones having a creamy white ground color to the plumage, head and breast especially and underwing coverts without a lot of darker spots. The tail is white with one broad, black terminal band. The belly is dark brown to almost black, in strong contrast to the pale breast. Older Rough-legs have a darker, more complex plumage with darker head and breast, often with a pale breast-band, similar to Common Buzzard. The underwings are darker with darker markings on coverts, the tail often have a 2:nd thinner black subterminal tailband inside the broader terminal band. Sexes are also sometimes possible to separate, anyhow an impressive and beautiful raptor to view and photograph. Welcome to enjoy it!


booking form / interest

· November - March
· Maximum 3 persons together/ 3 camera slots
· Included: Guiding to the hide, breakfast, lunch with a warm soup, coffee/tea, sandwiches, buns.
· In the hide there are warm sheep skin slippers , fleece-blankets, candles, a torch, a logbook, sheepskins.
· You bring:
Camera, binoculars, a head-light, water bottle, warm clothes, insulated winter boots (preferably water proof). No tripod, just tripod head, to fix in drilled holes in the window board: 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch. Lenses: 500-600 mm on fullformat-sensor is optimal (400 mm on crop-sensor like Canon 7D). Zoom from 300 mm and up is never wrong for closer birds.

Price:
2 100 SEK/person
B&B no dinner (selfcatering): 450 SEK extra
B&B with dinner: 650 SEK extra
Night in hotel: 1.050 SEK extra. (Prices per person in double room)
Single room supplement: 100 SEK


Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Simon Green

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Magnus Martinsson

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Pascal Favre

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Magnus Martinsson

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Magnus Martinsson

Birdsafarisweden
Photo: Magnus Martinsson