Some time spent with the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain

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The young female Iberian lynx image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

During December 2017, I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain, this was preparation for a trip that we were researching to add to our portfolio.  Once again, I visited Spain in the hope of capturing some images of the elusive Iberian lynx. This wasn’t the first time that we have attempted to launch a photography trip focussed on these subjects. My initial attempt was back in January 2016 but unfortunately, it was unsuccessful for a variety of reasons, not least the lack of sightings.

I arrived in Sierra Morena hoping to be lucky as the reports I had been receiving was that lynx had been spotted in the areas on a regular basis. I arrived too late to go into the lynx hide so spent the afternoon chatting with my host about the species I hoped to photograph to see if we could turn this into a potential photography tour for the guests of NaturesLens – over the next few hours, the plan for the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain was formed.

Our host has been working on his lynx project for a number of years & the area is now home to more Iberian lynx than Doñana National Park with excellent, regular sightings.

The following morning, I rose early to visit the Imperial Spanish Eagle hide. As soon as the sun rose, to my surprise, a Golden Eagle appeared on the large rock to my right. I watched this magnificent raptor feed for a short while, to allow it to settle before I started taking images.

Perched on a rock, a Golden Eagle lit by the dawn light image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

As I watched the Golden Eagle, two red foxes appeared to my left, closely followed by the arrival of an enormous number of azure winged magpies! For the next 30 minutes, I literally did not know where to point my camera. None of the species were bothered by the other although all kept a healthy distance from the golden eagle.

One of the red foxes makes eye contact with the photographer image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday  One of the red foxes carrying food away in it's mouth image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

When the Golden Eagle left, the red foxes & magpies remained, to be shortly joined by a couple of egyptian mongoose. At one point, a third fox came so close to my hide that I was over lensed at 400mm on a full frame camera.

Movement to my right caught my eye. Looking through my lens, I spotted the Imperial Eagle sitting in a tree in the distance. It took off & circled the area a couple of times but never came close enough for a decent shot. Ah well. It was still lovely to see.

The afternoon couldn’t some soon enough for me. I was so excited at the prospect of seeing a wild Iberian lynx. Sadly, my first afternoon drew a blank for the cat but I did get visits from a hoopoe & a black redstart. When we checked the camera traps that evening, it showed that the lynx had, unusually, visited the site in the morning.

The second afternoon was much better. Within 20 minutes of getting settled, one of the stars of the show, a male Iberian lynx appeared! He remained in the area for a good 40 minutes before wandering off. An hour later, we were visited by a young female Iberian lynx.

The female lynx of the area image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

She too remained in the area for a good 30-40 minutes before something spooked her & she left. What an incredible afternoon!

Taking a brief pause, before disappearing, the female lynx looks back at the photographer image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday  The male lynx of the area resting image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday The female lynx sharpens her claws by scratching a log image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday   The male Iberian Lynx moves through it's territory image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday  The female Iberian lynx image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday The female Lynx of the area, pauses & looks back image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography HolidayThe young female Iberian lynx image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday The male lynx drinkins from a small water hole image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography HolidayThe male lynx pauses & stands on a fallen log image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

On my final morning, I was able to tick off another species of cat from my bucket list – the very rare, European wildcat. At first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was just a domestic cat, however, there are obvious identifiers that they are not.

For starters, the European wildcat is much bigger & stouter than the domestic cat. Its non tapering tail is very thick with big bold distinct rings around it. It has striped fur & a dark dorsal band. If you look at their faces, the wildcats have brown fur around the mouth & you will see there are no white flashes on their chest.

The greatest population of these secretive species can be found in Spain & Portugal but their survival is threatened by loss of habitat, interbreeding with feral cats & being shot by people mistaking them for feral cats.

I spent a wonderful hour with this young female as she ate, groomed & climbed perches. In fact, she stayed so long I did wonder whether I would be able to leave in time to catch my flight home!

My trip to Spain was brief but action packed. The number of mammal species available was so much better than I had hoped for. It has been a long time in the making but with everything finally working as we had hoped, David & I now have everything we need in order to launch our newest, & very special photography trip.

A portrait of a female wildcat looking through the undergrowth image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography HolidayOne of the European wildcats illuminated by the dawn light image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography HolidayA European Wildcat photographed at dawn image captured during a NaturesLens Wildcat, Eagles & Iberian Lynx of Spain Photography Holiday

Join me in December 2018 to photograph the Wildcats, Eagles & Lynx of Spain

Wildcats, Eagles & the Iberian Lynx of Spain is a photography holiday of 4 nights duration, that costs £1499 & takes place in Adamuz in Spain, between the dates of 8th – 12th December 2018. It is ideal for photographing Iberian lynx, egyptian mongoose, european wildcat, golden eagle, imperial eagle, red fox & more. This photography holiday is led by Pui Hang Miles for NaturesLens. The photography holiday is offered on a full board, non-shared basis. Group size for this photography holiday is a minimum of 3 participants & a maximum of 4, plus Pui Hang. We consider this to be an event of easy level of exertion, if you have any questions about your suitability for this event, please contact us prior to making a booking enquiry. The photography holiday starts & ends at Malaga Airport. Transfers between Malaga Airport & Adamuz are included in the cost of this photography holiday.

You can view the full details of the photography holiday on the dedicated event page.

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Georgia’s thoughts on our Winter Wildlife of Japan photography holiday

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Early morning in Rausu sees the eagles greet the fishing fleet captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

Hi! I’m Georgia Wilson. It wasn’t my idea to attend the NaturesLens Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday … that belonged to my eagle mad husband, Graeme. Complicated photographic gear makes my eyes glaze over. So why, you may ask, would I consider going?

Well, I’ve never been to Japan & I like being out in the wilderness areas. I love observing animals & birds in their natural habitat … probably more to the point, I have a spirit of adventure. The thought of being on a boat in the middle of pack ice sounded fun. So with those thought in mind, I agreed to go.
Some wouldn’t consider me as a serious photographer because I only used a Canon Powershot SX720 HS, which has 40x optical zoom & HTC One XL phone camera. However, that thought didn’t stop me from trying to get the most out of my little cameras.
For this trip I wanted to keep things simple. I set the Powershot on automatic, so the camera made all the technical decisions. I was in charge of the framing. The photos below, just a selection from over 300o, are just as they were taken … no ‘doctoring up’. BTW, the cameras were hand held ie. no tripod or mono pod. & I think the photos are a testimony to what a fine camera the Canon Powershot is.
Moral of the story … you don’t have to have expensive photographic equipment to enjoy this trip. All you need is a spirit of adventure & imagination, plus a sense of fun; if you go with the flow, you’ll have a wonderful time.

Georgia herself, bringing a special kind of Aussie bubbliness to the tour captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Mount Fuji captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday The mountainous landscape of Hokkaido in Winter captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday The red crowned cranes at their roosting site near Tsuri captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Perfect moon captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Close up of one of the red crowned cranes of Akan captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday A trio of whooper swans sleep on the thermal waters of Lake Kussharo captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday Early morning in Rausu sees the eagles greet the fishing fleet captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday One of Hokkaido's red foxes pauses as he crosses the snow captured NaturesLens during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday

This trip to see & photograph the Winter Wildlife of Japan was a bazillion times better than any written description could possibly convey. I lost count at the number of jaw-dropping experiences I had … the sunrises, sunsets, every changing light to watch a living painting unfold, surreal , elegant, mystical.

Blend this with the graciousness of the Japanese & their culture … PLUS a small group of quirky travel companions … all perfect ingredients to create a trip that I will remember forever.

Crazy Pricing Offer for Winter Wildlife of Japan in 2019

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A bloody squabble, breaks out over fish, between several of the Steller's & White Tailed Sea Eagles photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

We’ve decided to run a totally crazy offer on pricing for our Winter Wildlife of Japan photography holiday for 2019. Until the end of February we will take 10% off the price so instead of paying £5749, you pay £5175. Join Pui Hang to capture images of varied winter wildlife, in Japan, during the Winter Wildlife of Japan Photography Holiday. The photography holiday is of 13 nights duration on a half board, twin-shared basis.

You, & the others in your small group of like-minded photographers, will travel deep into stunning snow-covered landscapes, capturing beautiful images of wildlife which thrives during harsher seasons in Japan.

Your group will travel throughout several different regions, including the mountainous area around Yudanaka in central Japan, & north of the mainland to the island of Hokkaido, giving you an insight into the variety of landscapes & wildlife which exists throughout the country, made even more photogenic by dramatic winter conditions.

A bloody squabble, breaks out over fish, between several of the Steller's & White Tailed Sea Eagles photographed during the 2017 NaturesLens Japanese Winter Wildlife Photography Holiday

Group sizes are limited due to the nature of the photography excursions & the type of hotel that we prefer to make use of, so booking early is essential. We have only 4 places available at the special offer price – all 4 of these places must be filled for the trip to run.

We will require a 20% deposit of £1035 to hold your place – the balance will be due at the start of November 2018.

You can make a booking enquiry on the main event page – make sure to enter JAPANSPECIAL into the offer code box to get the 10% discount.

Please note that the accommodation for this special offer is on a shared basis, if you are not part of a couple or a pair of travellers who normally share, we will pair you up with a sharing partner of the same gender.

For the thoughts of, Graeme, one of last year’s guests, please have a read of Graeme’s blog post, or you can view some of Nicola’s images here, here, here & here,

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Lincolnshire Seal Photography by Gladys

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A well fattened seal pup who almost looks like he is laughing image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

November 2017 saw Gladys joining one of the NaturesLens Seal Photography tours, the intent, to spend a week intensively capturing images of the Seals of Lincolnshire coastline in all lighting & weather conditions, under the guidance of Sean, who led the trips for us & offered mentoring & advice.

A pair of bull seals fight on the sands image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

The group experienced all types of behaviour throughout the week of seal photography, but apparently the most daunting & loud was when this pair of bull seals decided to face-off & fight each other.

At the end of the rainbow, one of the seals caught in a storm image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

As Gladys describes it ‘An Awesome Moment‘, which is fitting for what happens when you have the opportunity to capture an image of your target subject with a rainbow in the background!

One of the seal pups exposed for mono image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

The group were very lucky with the ideal weather conditions throughout the week which resulted in lovely colors. However, in the case of this image, Gladys couldn’t resist processing it to monochrome.

A very recently born seal pup on the beach image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

On the first morning, the group found this lovely pup in beautiful morning light, Gladys states that she was amazed to see that a part of the umbilical cord was still attached, which appears to be a very common thing even when the pups where already a few days old.

A well fattened seal pup who almost looks like he is laughing image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

Without a doubt this was the group’s favourite seal pup! They nicknamed him ‘Chubba’, & every day they looked out for him as he demonstrated funny behaviour which caused the whole group much amusement!

A young seal pup looks inquisitively at the photographer image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

In addition to the photography on the beaches & at the surfs edge, sometimes the seal pups made their way up to the dunes, which as Gladys says, gave a nice change of setting, for seal photography in the green grass areas.

A bull and a female seal caught amongst the shifting sands whipped up in the aftermath of a storm image captured on a NaturesLens Seal Photography Workshop

One afternoon, the group experienced some extreme weather conditions, everyone commented that it was very difficult to photograph under these circumstances; but they persevered & managed to get some extraordinary images. This female seal was reaching out to her pup to make sure it was still laying next to her as it was impossible to see in the sand storm.

Join Sean in 2018 for a week of Seal Photography

In November 2018, Sean will be leading a 5-night-long wildlife photography holiday focussed on Seal photography, but this time in Norfolk for NaturesLens, specifically between the dates of November 25 – 30 2018.

The cost is £999 per participant which includes 5 nights accommodation in a gorgeous cottage on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis, your meals will be warming, homely & plentiful to get you warmed through & filled up after a long day on the beach. Numbers are limited to ensure that the trip is sustainable, ethical & enjoyable for every photographer.

The Seals of Helgoland

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An adult seal lies in the sands of Dune island image captured during a NaturesLens Seals of Helgoland Photography Holiday

When I first told my husband that I was travelling to Helgoland he immediately started to tell me about the island’s fascinating military history & it’s use as a naval base during the two world wars. After WWII, the island was used as a bombing range – & most notably, a Royal Navy attack in 1947 created one of the biggest single non-nuclear detonations in history. Following British occupation, the island was finally returned to Germany in 1952. The history of the island is fascinating & well worth researching, but for my short time there it was all about the seals, the Seals of Helgoland.

One of the large bull seals lies on the sands of Dune island image captured during a NaturesLens Seals of Helgoland Photography Holiday

The journey to Helgoland isn’t straightforward. From Heathrow we had the flight to Hamburg, then a car journey to Cuxhaven, & finally a boat to Helgoland. With stop-overs & connections, the travel time is quite lengthy, but as always, once you’re with the wildlife all that pales into insignificance. Read more