Photographer slithers through thick mud lake to save stranded eagle

March 5th, 2020

It’s probably safe to say that nature photographers have a keen appreciation for wildlife. And it’s perfectly normal for them to place themselves in highly dangerous situations in order to get that perfect shot. A shot they will get paid for.

But how much danger are they willing to put themselves in to rescue one of these creatures they stalk in order to shoot—with a camera?

A Heroic Act

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National Geographic Source: National Geographic

We can find the answer to that in a Polish nature photographer by the name of Krzysztof Chomicz. He spotted an eagle that had managed to entrap itself in the thick mud of the swampy area of ​​Karsiborsk Ferns, not far from the town of Swinoujscie. According to the Polish Tourism Organization, the town is famous for its therapeutic mud spas, but Chomicz was about to get an entirely different sort of mud bath.

With the help of local firefighters and a very long rope, he waded through more than 100 feet of very thick mud to reach the bird. To reach a creature that is first a wild animal, and second, very afraid of its situation. Not only is it trapped, but it would have a natural wariness—if not fear—of humans.

Of course, the eagle attacked him when he first reached it, but the photographer persevered. He just stayed where he was until the bird settled. Then he was able to transport the eagle back to the shore.

Treated with some TLC

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I Swinoujscie Source: I Swinoujscie

According to National Geographic, the story doesn’t end there.

After the rescue, the young white-tailed eagle spent the night at a private property in Swinoujscie. He was evaluated and cared for by wildlife conservation workers from the Dzika Ostoja Foundation, then transferred to Szczecin.

Experts who examined it say this was likely one of the eagle’s first flights, as it was estimated to only be about six months old. No wonder it was so frightened that it tried to attack its rescuer. They named the eagle Icarus, a creature from Greek mythology who fell from the sky.

Icarus was fully examined and cleaned. One of the workers even fed him raw chicken meat by hand. By this time, he was fully trusting, laying still while he was worked on. He even gently nibbled on a worker’s finger.

Eventually, he was swaddled up in a blanket like a baby and transported in the back of a vehicle. He was further checked and x-rayed to be sure there was no damage to any of his bones.

Finally, he got a clean bill of health and was released in Wolin National Park.

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Radio Szczecin Source: Radio Szczecin

Not the First Time

You would think such an astounding rescue would be a once in a lifetime event, but this isn’t the first time Krzysztof Chomicz came to the aid of an eagle in distress. He rescued another white-tailed eagle the year before.

The white-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in northern Europe. In the mid-nineties, it was near extinction due to pollution and loss of its habitat, but by the 80s it began to make a comeback. This is due in part to DDT and PCBs being banned. And, it seems, Krzysztof Chomicz rescuing them.

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Source: National Geographic