Sven Začek - Sad, frozen story


My love for winter and cold temperatures is well known and I enjoy being outside in extreme weather as I suppose most nature photographers do. Therefore as winter arrives I always wish for cold days and pleanty of snow. Two weeks ago Estonia was hit with a nice wave of bitter cold coming with the Eastern winds all the way from Siberia. That meant -20 degree days and -35 degree nights. Perfect! Rivers and seas started steaming and it was all I had hoped for. As the days went by and most of the open water froze over I decided to pay a visit to a place where I had my first chance of photographing wintering kingfishers five or six years ago. To my surprise I found this lone bird. At first I was glad to find such a special sight and I already started thinking where to put my hide and how would I endure sitting in the hide in such cold. But as I approached I learned that the bird was in a very bad condition. It was still looking out for fish, but it’s flight was rather slow and made a strange noise. Looking through my binoculars I noticed that the bird had literally started to froze. I guess the steam from a river had built up on its plumage. As you can see it has huge chunkes of ice on its chest, the backside was covered in smaller pieces, but in greater volume. So my heart sunk, because the two coldest nights were up next and I cursed myself for wishing for all this cold. Even though I knew it was not my fault and the bird had made a mistake of not migrating to a warmer place, I still felt for him very strongly. Next morning I could not find him anymore…

Location: Estonia

Tags: Alcedo atthis, frozen, hardship, jäälind, Kingfisher, sven zacek

We’d love you to comment on our photographs. If you can, please do so in English. And as we are here under our own names, we’d appreciate if you would do the same when commenting.

* optional
Your email address will not be published.


  1. David Guimaraes said:

    20/02/2012 21:31

    The background on this image is perfect! Branches all tangled up, creating a very soft atmosphere... the bird, by itself, is just frozen!! Even the feathers on the tail... Great shot!

  2. Ludo Reyniers said:

    21/02/2012 15:07

    It's a very sad story, obviously the bird didn't make it, wat a pitty.

  3. Opticron Binoculars said:

    16/05/2012 13:32

    Poor little bird. Hope he would have survived in that weather and founded some warmer place for itself.