This stretch of back road is only a couple of miles from my village house in Eastern Slovakia. It’s the perfect motorbike road but today it was thick with snow and heavily pitted. Stunning views. Lots of wildlife.
We went to a steak house in Bardejov for lunch today and the place doubles up as a stunning garden centre. This gazebo is one of its dining locations.
In the centre left of the photo you can see Zborov Castle, which is located a few miles East of Bardejov, Eastern Slovakia. It’s an extremely large ruined castle which was once an important factor in the amber trade.
A new toy, and almost mint condition! This is a Czechoslovakian Meopta Admira A8GO 8mm wind-up movie camera from 1965. It was found in a store cupboard and now has a new home. I just need to get some spools, 8mm movie roll and a projector. And then a complex video transfer device so I can convert to digital.
I’m really looking forward to making some movies with it. Filming the forest – or even a short horror film – will give the footage an excellent and authentic retro look.
Compared to modern handicams, this feels heavy and robust. I love older technology as it was built to last – plus it didn’t need recharging.
I really need to start photographing some other species but this Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) was just hanging around, stuffing itself on berries, so I thought ‘why not?’
Ever since I first saw one stuffed and mounted in a small village bar in the Pieniny National Park in Slovakia, I have had an interest in the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) – at first I didn’t even believe such a creature existed in Europe. Having been thus far unable to locate them alone, I have spoken to hunters in my village to ascertain their whereabouts. Their response is usually to show me ones they’ve shot, kept as photos on their mobile phones.
I’ve explored several areas of forest in my area, I’ve read up on their habits and usual haunts, and still have had no luck in seeing them in the flesh. I know roughly where to find them, in an area of woodland heavy with boar and wolf, and hunters with itchy trigger fingers.
Three nights ago, on Slovak TV news, it was announced that due to their apparently huge population, all hunting restrictions would be lifted on them. Where this statistic comes from, I’ve no idea. As deer season has ended, and boars are restricted to specific categories, hunters will be out in droves looking for a kill. The Raccoon Dog, an ancient canid from Japan, released by the former Soviet Union for its fur, will become Target No.1.
This news disturbed me so much that I woke up angrily thinking about it. I am now more determined than ever to see them before they get wiped out. I’m even considering starting a sanctuary for them.
Winter can be long and bleak, cold and monochrome, so it’s great when you can burn off some energy and have some fun. As there’s plenty of snow at the village house, my kids had a snowball fight. Me, I just drank coffee and avoided their icy missiles.
This is how you tell you’ve got deer in the garden. Each year they force down the 2-metre-tall deer fence at the back of the house so they can get to the shrubs, young fruit trees and tuja. They then use the garden as a latrine.
We have a huge problem with Pine Martens (Martes martes) as they live in my attic and cover the garden with all the roof insulation they rip out to make nests. These tracks are from my garden.
Finally, a better image of an Ural Owl (Strix uralensis). I’d just stopped the car to take a photo of a group of ravens eating something in the snow when they all took off. I then noticed this beautiful specimen sitting watching me in a tree.