One of Calera's Bustards at sunrise image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

Dan reports in from our Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

This was my second year leading a group for NaturesLens on their Spanish Bird Photography Holiday that is focussed around the fantastic hides in Calera & once again they did not disappoint.

The stars of this area in Spain are the bustards & the black-winged kite but when Europe’s more common but still wonderful & colourful birds are also on your doorstep there’s really nothing not to like – add in some paella, sunshine & a few beers & I’m happy!

This year I had the chance to photograph a few species I missed last year. Starting with the charismatic little owl! I’ll share the others in my second blog but for now just look at those eyes…

A little owl poses in the Spanish olive grove image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday On the ground, a little owl attempts to out stare the camera lens grove image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday Nestled in the trees within the olive grove, the little owls make their nests image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

This year Spring was much more advanced when compared to last year; this meant the bee-eaters were already digging away, courting, & mating by the time we arrived – a bee-eater colony never fails to impress!

They became a firm favourite with the guests on the holiday & were a great way to spend the afternoons on the Spanish plains.

Tossing an insect, this European Bee eater demonstrates it's agility image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday Demonstrating the classic food pass, this pair of European Bee eaters are entranced with one and other image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday Of course, when we visit, many of the species, such as this pair of European Bee eaters, are at the height of their mating season image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday One of the solo Bee eaters perches awaiting the return of it's mate image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

The bustards were putting on a good show too, with a large group of lekking males making their rounds on the short grazed fields. Great fun to watch from the hide, massive & really impressive birds!

On the plains, the bustards are king image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday A pair of bustards stride, gathering their harem of females as they do so image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday One of Calera's Bustards at sunrise image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

Their smaller (but still rather large!) cousins, the little bustards, also put in an appearance & whilst waiting for the famous jumping display I took some photos as they scratched away & scurried amongst the arable fields. Unfortunately, the jumping display evaded me again!

A highlight for many during the holiday, is the chirping and jumping of the Little Bustard image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday The little bustards are early risers, often seen in the blue of the dawn image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

I’ll finish this first part of my report with some photos from one of my favourite hides for Spanish Bird photography at this location, the lake hide!

It’s great; you’re there, laying on a comfy mat at water level with waders feeding around you. The sun gets lower & the light gets better & better, just brilliant …

Low level photography from the shoreline hide image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday The afternoon sessions at the shoreline hide are often bathed in a glorious light image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday Reflection shots are more than achievable at the shoreline hide on a small water body in Calera image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday The shore line hide sees you laying on a comfy mat at water level with waders feeding around you image captured during a NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

WOULD YOU LIKE TO UNDERTAKE SOME SPANISH BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR YOURSELF IN 2018?

For 2018, NaturesLens have already planned a duo of Spanish Bird Photography Holidays that can be joined together to form one seamless opportunity to add a plethora of photos of the birds of Spain to your portfolio – or you can attend the separate events individually – the two events are the Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday followed the next week by Spanish Birds of Calera Photography Holiday.

Starting with the Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday during mid-April – specifically starting on April 13 & ending on April 20, 2018 – to be led by Sean Weekly for NaturesLens, then the amazing Spanish Birds of Calera Photography Holiday starts on April 21 & ends on April 29, 2018, this trip is being led by … Sean Weekly … so you’ll have his company, photographic tuition & guidance for the whole fortnight.

One of the pelicans stands in an icy Lake Kerkini image captured during the 2017 NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Tour

Pui Hang’s review of the 2017 Dalmatian Pelican Photography Tour

Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece is situated in the northeast of the district of Serret just 40km from the town of Serres & 100km from Thessaloniki. The lake is one of the most important wetlands in Europe with about 300 bird species having been observed there. Among them, the Dalmatian Pelican, a prehistoric looking but utterly photogenic & charismatic bird.

Our 2017 Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Tours to photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini marked our third year of visiting this beautiful lake & back in January, I had the pleasure of leading the first of our two trips out there with Sean Weekly, the newest member of our guiding team.

I have to admit to being more than a little excited about the trip. Kerkini was experiencing its coldest winter in over a decade with lots of snow & ice, something they had not seen in 15 years & snow was something that we have been hoping for since we started visiting the area.

As we approached our hotel, we could see that the lake was completely frozen over, which meant boat trips were not going to be possible unless there was a big thaw while we were out there.

A frozen Lake Kerkini barely a pelican in sight at our normal locations image captured during the 2017 NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Tour

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One of the juvenile lion cubs looking thoughtful an Image captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

India’s Big Cats – the Asiatic Lions of Gir

Julianne joined us for the second week of our Indian photography tour to photograph the Asiatic Lions of Gir. She was looking to hone her composition skills & hopefully capture some stunning images of the majestic residents of the Gir forest, the Asiatic Lion.

Whilst her first day drew a blank for lion sightings, Julianne was lucky enough to spend time with a mother jackal & her adorable young pup.

A Jackal mother & one of her cubs photographed during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

In fact, Julianne proved to be extremely lucky on her first day when during the afternoon game drive, whilst trying to get a good angle on a buzzard in a tree, she encountered a leopard lounging in the bushes. In her own words “I have been trying to get great leopard photos for a decade & this is THE best encounter!”

One of Gir's Leopards sat in the foliage capture whilst on the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

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Bandhavgarh is home to a large amount of wildlife here is a baby Langur Monkey cradled in it's mothers arms image captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday

Peter’s review of our Bengal Tigers of India Tour

In the beginning of May 2017, it was time for us to make our second attempt to capture images of the impressive Bengal Tigers of India, when I write second attempt it’s because Linda – my wife – & I, had previously been to Bardia National Park in Nepal for the very same reason,  but, because the tigers in Nepal are much wilder, it was difficult to get as close to them as we would like.

So, on this occasion, we joined NaturesLens on a trip to Bandhavgarh National Park in India. Bandhavgarh is one of the best tiger reserves in the world, with the highest population of Bengal Tigers, so the odds seemed good & the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday looked to tick all the boxes of what we hoped to achieve.

We met with Pui Hang & David of NaturesLens in New Delhi airport, also with them were Jayne & Simon, two guests from the UK, meaning that we had a nice little group of 6 persons in total.

The flight from New Delhi to Jabalpur is a relative short flight in a small plane. Getting the gear to fit in the overhead luggage compartment could have been a problem, but it turned out to be no problem at all, even David managed to persuade the cabin crew with a rather loud “IT WILL FIT” that his bag would fit, & it did!

After the flight & a drive, we arrived to Tala & our wonderful accommodation, which would be our base for the next 7 days. & a very nice base it was, large rooms, nice bathrooms, &, of course, a pool to cool off in.

The stunning accommodation that is used whilst staying in Bandhavgarh during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday

The lodge which stay at during the the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of India Photography Holiday is luxurious and has a large pool during

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One of the Barn Owls typical of the kind of images that may be captured on the NaturesLens Bird of Prey Workshops

April’s Bird of Prey Workshop

April 2017 saw David & I running the first of our Welsh Bird of Prey Workshops of 2017. This photography workshop is a particular favourite of mine because it is so relaxed & intimate due to the group size & everyone comes away with some fabulous images & new friendships made.

We brought some new props along to the workshop to mix things up a bit. These included a milk churn, a couple of storm lanterns & a variety of different wheels – perfect for getting a little creative as well as honing one’s composition skills.

One of the Barn Owls typical of the kind of images that may be captured on the NaturesLens Bird of Prey Workshop Read more

One of the Dalmatian Pelicans strides across the ice of a frozen Lake Kerkini photographed on the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Holiday

More imagery of the Kerkini Pelicans from Sean

In January I had the pleasure of co-guiding one of the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans of Greece Photography Holidays, along with Pui Hang. We took a group out to Greece to capture images of an oft-overlooked bird – the Kerkini Pelicans. This is the second part of a series of three blog posts covering the trip, with more Dalmatian Pelicans images taken by myself. If you missed the first part, then you can read it here.

A black & white portrait of one of the pelicans photographed on the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Holiday Read more

A Dalmatian Pelican captured at sunrise photographed on the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Holiday

The 1st of a series of images captured on Lake Kerkini by Sean

In January I had the pleasure of co-guiding the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini Photography Holiday, along with Pui Hang. We took a group out to Greece to capture images of an oft-overlooked bird – the Dalmatian Pelican. This is the first part of a series of three blog posts covering the trip & showcases some of the images that I captured.

It was looking to be a unique trip as Lake Kerkini had its harshest winter in over 16 years. In fact, the weather was so harsh that the whole 17km lake had completely frozen over! This was going to make the trip completely different from any other. In the past, the itinerary was such that we would be heading out onto Lake Kerkini in boats to photograph the pelicans in beautiful morning light. This trip was not to have the same itinerary in any way whatsoever,  but it would offer a whole different experience altogether!

A black & white portrait of one of the Dalmatian Pelicans photographed on the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Holiday

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