Going through the photographs of my recent trip to the Oder Delta in the west of Poland, this photo of a White-tailed Eagle seems to sum it all up.
Experiencing these magnificent birds (often very close by) in a healthy population makes me extremely thankful. Having abundant apex predators means that the ecological system is healthy. But from a personal view as well.
Especially when I think of the years and years I have been trying to get photographs of these eagles in Holland. Considering the fact that we only have 15 breeding pairs in Holland, encountering them in such large numbers as if they were assimilated city birds enlighted a spark of optimism in my usual gloomy thoughts about the disrupted balance of nature in our modern world.
In Holland, we have destroyed so much of our wild life that we need to import animals from other regions to create just a semblance of natural balance as I was experiencing in that part of Poland. We have imported our first pairs of White-tailed Eagles. Just like we imported our beavers, otters, sturgeons and so on. And as soon predators appear, like wolves (This is happening more and more these last couple of years), people are shocked. They are dangerous for humans, will hurt us or will hurt our subsidized protected cattle and sheep businesses etc. It is hard to imagine for someone like me, that modern people are so removed from nature that they just cannot capture the notion that the presence of these predators is the basic need for natural balance. And I am a city boy myself….
Poland shows there is another way of dealing with nature! Polish people are so much more in tune with their environment. I was so surprised when a local rancher came by one evening, proudly showing an article with scientific proof that the population of Wolves was increasing in the region. In our part of Europe, it seems we merely focus on the “threat” from the presence of predators, and not the richness. I would be delighted being able to brag about having 150 breeding pair of White-tailed Eagles, 2 healthy packs of Wolves, Raccoon dogs, foxes, otters, marters around as the Polish rancher could. Unless we reset our attitude towards nature it will take a while until the real natural balance is restored. Hopefully we can learn something from these Polish locals.
I hope my images can inspire to see the beauty of the brutal forces that are inevitable for a natural balance. To help you see that it is actually a good thing that we are part of this harsh side of nature as well. Not only that: as species we are even just as dependent of and participant in the natural balance as these magnificent animals are. Not changing our attitude seems more and more like collective suicide to me…
Hence this image: Frozen in Time and Space. And yes this is a live Eagle, not a stuffed one photo shopped in a background.