This post and photos are from an article I published in the German, wildlife conservation magazine Wildtierschutz Deutschland e.V.
I still remember the skydive when I found myself falling through a flock of buzzards. When the parachute opened, they were so close that I could see their eyes and nearly feel their feathers. I was surrounded by them, flying among them, and for a brief moment, I was one of them.
Even today, all these years later, my memory of the event is as thrilling as it was then. I've never experienced anything like it again.
The only thing that comes close to this experience is when a flock of large birds of prey zooms by me at a short distance, especially when I stand at the edge of a high cliff. At such moments, I feel like I am flying again, free from all constraints, forgetting that my feet are still on the ground.
I took this photo of a White-bellied Sea Eagle from a cliff not far from Sydney. White-bellied Sea Eagles live around water bodies in Australia. This is one of a pair that nested on a tree near a river close to Sydney. When I watched them long enough, I could learn their flight pattern and anticipate their movements.
Once the air got warm, the pair would cruise along the river. They would repeat this route a few times every hour. So, all I had to do was relax on the cliff at the bend of the river and wait for them to fly straight at me before, just a few meters away, they would take the turn. As they kept repeating the pattern, I had several chances to capture them, until I got it right.
Happy nature exploration!