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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 Black winged Stilts poses one only one leg photographed during the Natureslens Birds of Spain Photography Holiday

Derek reviews our Birds of Spain Photography Holiday

I have been on wildlife photographic trips many times with David & PN. Sometimes as personal friends & sometimes as a client of NaturesLens, whilst discussing plans for 2017, David mentioned that he felt the Calera trip to photograph some of the Birds of Spain would be exactly what I wanted as I have for some time yearned to photograph the Little Bustard displaying.

As all wildlife photographers know you can go to the right place at the right time & still fail to get your shot. – this is exactly what happened on this trip! If it was easy it would soon become boring.

So did I come away disappointed from my trip? The answer is a resounding No as there were so many other great birds to photograph & in wonderful lighting that I almost forgot why I first decided to go on this trip.

Photographed from the lake hide, one of the Black winged Stilts photographed during the Natureslens Birds of Spain Photography Holiday

Read more

A Spanish Little Owl at it's nesting site in an olive grove photographed on one of the pair of NaturesLens Wildlife Photography Holidays to capture images of the Birds of Spain

Alan’s thoughts from his second week with the Birds of Spain

This is part 2 of my blog for NaturesLens after my undertaking a pair of back-to-back Wildlife Photography Holidays to capture images of the Birds of Spain, this blog covers the Spanish Birds of Calera Photography Holiday – if you haven’t read the first part, you can read it here – it covers the Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday.

After the Raptors trip & my overnight stop in Madrid, it was time to head back to the airport to meet the group arriving from the UK for the Calera tour. Greetings exchanged, Daniel met with, we were soon on our way. Calera is about 1h 30mins to the west of Madrid in the Castilla-la-Mancha region. It would be another week of early starts & longs days in hides but I knew it would also be a week of excellent bird photography & I was looking forward to it very much.

A Spanish Little Owl at it's nesting site in an olive grove photographed on one of the pair of NaturesLens Wildlife Photography Holidays to capture images of the Birds of Spain Read more

Dotty looks back, she is one of the new mothers of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

Jayne reports back from our Indian Wildlife Photography Holidays

My first visit to India was in April 2016, also with NaturesLens, & I absolutely fell in love with the place, we had some awesome tiger sightings in Tadoba, but let’s just say I came away with some ‘unfinished business’ so it didn’t take much persuading to book myself onto the Indian Wildlife Photography Holidays that NaturesLens had arranged for May 2017.

In the weeks prior to our trip there had been many posts on social media showing some amazing tiger sightings so the anticipation grew, & Bandhavgarh didn’t disappoint. It has to be said, however, that nothing is guaranteed – we heard of a few people who had seen very little but NaturesLens put everything in place to give their clients the absolute best opportunity, securing top class drivers & guides, who, over our time in Bandhavgarh, became part of our ‘Team Tiger’ group.

When I refer to ‘sightings’ I really mean ‘photographic opportunities’ not a shadow in the bush which is hardly distinguishable or a bum shot! When I say ‘photographic opportunity’, I mean time to capture an image of quality that meets my own personal standards & that I would be happy for others to see. In total, over the week the group encountered 17 different tigers, some shared moments with numerous other folk & some very special exclusive moments with no one else around other than one Gypsy vehicle – just you & the tiger – those really are moments to treasure.

This image is very much one shared with practically everyone else on safari. For several days Kankatti & her cubs visited the waterhole at pretty much the same time each day so naturally, everybody gathered to witness this special event. We sat & we waited for over an hour in the blazing heat – about 45˚ – & then suddenly the sound of camera shutters. I couldn’t see anything to start with thanks to a beautiful growth of bamboo but then the family appeared, walking around the waterhole & bathing in just the perfect spot.

Kankatti and cubs a regular sight in Bandhvagarh in May 2017 captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

What an absolute treat! Read more

David’s images of the Birds of the Spanish Plains

Earlier this year, David was part of a small group who headed to capture images of the birds of the Spanish plains with Pui Hang & myself, we spent a weekend photograph the various species that are to be found in the area.

Ordinarily, we had expected some of the species to have diminished numbers as they would have started to migrate following their successful breeding earlier in the season, however the season had been wet, many of the earlier clutches had sadly failed & so large numbers of birds remained & were trying for a second clutch – this certainly applied to the hoopoes, the bee-eaters & more.

The female adult hoopoe feeding one of the young from this years clutch - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of the Spanish Plains Photography Holiday Read more

Birds of the Spanish Plains from a recent visit

Although our main photography holiday for the birds of the Spanish plains takes place in late April or early May; for the first time this year, we additionally visited at the end of May, specifically over the bank holiday weekend. Our local guide opined that some of the species would have left & the young of others would have fledged, so there was a possibility of a lesser selection of species to photograph – this would not be a hardship, given only four photography sessions over the weekend & plenty of species remaining, we would still have plenty to photograph.

As it turned out, this was not the case, we had virtually the same species as those who had visited 6 weeks previous; due to rains earlier in the season, the bee-eaters were still courting, nest-building & mating, the black-shouldered kites had not departed for their migration south & many other species were still displaying a full set of behaviours.

Jason was amongst those who accompanied us on this trip to our location, which is about 90 minutes from Madrid, he has kindly sent in a selection of the images that he captured whilst on the Spanish plains, he had sessions with shrike, bee-eater, hoopoe & time in the carrion hide, which sees visits from black & red kites, storks, many vultures, ravens & more.

We have one place remaining available for the 2017 weekend, which will be held between the dates of May 27th – 29th 2017, if you’d like to attend & capture images of the birds of the Spanish plains for yourself, send us a message using our contact form.

Jason has kindly sent us a selection of his images that we are happy to publish below:

A male bee-eater delicately passes a freshly caught insect to a female of the species - photographed on a NaturesLens Photography Holiday to Spain to photograph the birds of the Spanish plains Read more

More participant photos of the Birds of the Spanish Plains

We are pleased to post up another selection of photos of the Birds of the Spanish Plains, taken on the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday, these were taken & contributed by David Jones, who visited Calera with me in 2015, but was so taken with the area & the variety of species on offer that he decided to revisit in 2016, with Dan leading the trip on this occasion.

You can view some of the images captured by Andrew, one of the participants, on another blog post located here & some of those from Dan, who led the trip for us in 2016 & will do so again in 2017 & 2018, here! But for now, here are some great images from David

A Bee-eater captured tossing a bee before swallowing it - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday Read more

Events

Dotty looks back, she is one of the new mothers of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

India’s Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

NaturesLens offers you the opportunity to journey into the heart of India, in the pursuit of capturing the elusive Indian tiger on camera as it thrives within a protected national park. Open to both amateur & semi-professional wildlife photographers, the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday has been designed to offer guests unrivalled opportunities to photograph these amazing animals within Bandhavgarh National Park, whilst also looking out for other native species; such as the Indian gaur & langur monkeys.

We have created a package which includes full board accommodation, jeep fees, park fees & airport transfers to make things as straightforward for you as possible, to ensure that you can make the most of this unique wildlife photography experience.

Book early to experience the Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh for yourself!

Dotty looks back, she is one of the new mothers of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

The magnificent Indian tiger, a creature so majestic & elusive, which has been suffering as a result of illegal poaching to the point of becoming an endangered species. NaturesLens invites you to experience these beautiful creatures first hand within beautiful & mysterious Indian parkland, in a reserve famed for having the highest density of Tigers in India. The landscape offers dense jungle environments & grassland intertwined with narrow tracks that you will navigate whilst capturing stunning images. You will encounter a range of other native species on the trip, such as leopards, Indian gaurs, langur monkeys & sloth bears as well as an array of beautifully colourful birds.

Bandhavgarh National Park is located in a region of India steeped in complex history, with evidence of the political past of the area lying in ruins & monuments within the park.

Our Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh stands out from the crowd, as we have carefully organised the schedule to allow for an optional full day’s safari in private gypsies (jeeps). Unlike the public, who are restricted to 3hr sessions in the park in the morning & afternoon, you will benefit from earlier entry & later exit, & an entire day within the park without having to leave, to ensure that you are able to make the most of the tiger photography opportunities at times when the park is quietest.

Dotty walks out of the grassland of one of Bandhavgarh's meadows captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

Many wildlife photography tours in these environments cram 3 or more clients into one gypsy, forcing individuals to lean over each other to take photographs, compromising the quality of the images & the experience for individuals. However, we have ensured that only 2 guests travel in each gypsy, giving you maximum freedom of movement to capture images from the optimum angle, & space to keep you comfortable as you experience the wonders of the park over the course of the day. Photography tuition will be provided as needed by Jayne Bond LRPS, with knowledgeable wildlife guidance provided by a team of local experts. You can read Jayne’s report from the 2017 Indian Wildlife Photography Holidays on our blog.

Banbehi one of the new mothers of Bandhavgarh captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

Our guests are also housed in exquisite accommodation on a full board basis, providing you with comfort & excellent hospitality when you return later on in the evening to relax, unwind, & reflect on events of the day. We have designed this tour to maximise time in the park spent spotting & capturing editorial quality photographs of tigers, whilst minimising travel time. With this in mind, airport transfers, jeep fees & park fees are also included in the cost of the tour, making things simple for you so that you can focus on making the most of your wildlife photography experience.

The splendour of India's peacocks captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday One of Bandhavgarh's Langur Monkeys captured during the NaturesLens Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh Photography Holiday

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to come face to face with the majestic Indian tiger by booking early, as our tours offer limited places.

Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY AVAILABILITY

5 places available

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT

This list is a guide on what to take on the tour. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the items listed as it wouldn’t all fit in your luggage /camera bag anyway! Items in BOLD are classed as essentials.

Camera Equipment:

  • Digital Camera Body.
  • Spare digital camera body.
  • Telephoto lens – no shorter than 200mm, but 300mm or longer is advisable. If you have a 400, 500 or 600mm lens, bring it!
  • 1.4x Teleconverter/Extender.  If you have to buy one for this for the trip, please make sure you get one that works with your telephoto lens. If the longest lens you have is 200mm, a teleconverter/extender is essential.
  • 2.0x teleconverter /extender.  Again, if you have to buy one for this trip, please make sure you get one that works with your telephoto lens.
  • 70-200mm.
  • 24-105mm or another wide angle lens.
  • Sturdy tripod with a gimbal type tripod head is advised.
  • Right angled viewfinder.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare batteries.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  • Camera and lens dust cover.
  • Card reader.
  • Laptop or another type of storage device.

Camera & Lens Recommendations:

Cropped Sensor:

In general, a 500mm lens can prove too much. The ideal lens would be 300mm + 1.4x converter or/and 100-400mm f5.6 Canon or 200-400mm f4 Nikon, Nikon 80-400mm f5,6.

Full frame sensor: 

In general 500mm, but optimal would be 400mm plus 1.4x converter or 300mm with 1.4x and 2x converter. Very good lens for full frame would also be a 70-200mm f2.8 plus 1.4x converter.

Clothing:

  • Thin neutral coloured t-shirts & blouses.
  • Neutral coloured trousers.
  • Hat (a safari style hat with a broad rim all around the edge is best).
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Bandana (to protect your nose and mouth from dust).
  • Sensible shoes or boots for safari.
  • Flip flops or easy shoes for the lodge.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

NaturesLens photography holidays include only the travel stated on the event page, flights of any nature are not included. Flight details, where applicable, are made available to clients in plenty of time to allow for booking at the best prices available.

The Bengal Tigers of Bandhavgarh itinerary is subject to change & is to be considered provisional.

NaturesLens photography holidays require a minimum number of participants, if sufficient photography holiday places are not sold the photography holiday may not be run, this photography holiday has a minimum participant level of 3 plus NaturesLens guide(s).

Not all mentioned wildlife can be observed & photographed at all times of the year, thus some activities may be considered seasonal & not available.

BOOKING FORM

A beautiful portrait of one of Gir's Asiatic Lions captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

India’s Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

The Gir National Forest is the last stronghold of the Asiatic Lion. Smaller than their African cousins but no less majestic, these stunning big cats live alongside humans in their last remaining natural habitat. The NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir tour marks a significant & very special addition to any photography portfolio, with days spent in the heart of the forest, waiting for a chance to capture on camera this most majestic, graceful & captivating of predators.

A beautiful portrait of one of Gir's Asiatic Lions captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

We have created a package which includes full board accommodation, jeep fees, park fees & airport transfers to make things as straightforward for you as possible, to ensure that you can make the most of this unique wildlife photography experience.

The Lions of Gir, take a territory is somewhat larger than that of tigers but, with the help of local trackers the guides and drivers, NaturesLens have a good track record of expanding your portfolio with some fantastic images of the Asiatic Lions – we recommend spending a week in Gir, so as to maximise your chances of finding, spending time with & photographing the Asiatic Lions

A pair of Gir's magnificent Asiatic Lions relax by the forest edge captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

For an unforgettable photography experience, this five-night trip to Gujarat, India, ticks every box. See the amazing Asiatic Lions of western India, whilst staying in a beautiful lodge, surrounded by mango trees, & catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard, another large resident of the forest.

A Spotted Owlet peeks at us from one of the trees in Gir Tiger Reserve captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

This wildlife photography holiday is based around the Asiatic Lions of Gir. You will witness some of the cat world’s most majestic & fearsome predators as they go about their daily lives, hunting, resting & raising their young. Apart from the lion, Gir is also famous for the large number of leopards which are also a major attraction & which, given the elusive nature of leopards, are highly visible.

NaturesLens’ five-night Asiatic Lions of Gir photography trip takes in rolling hills covered with dry deciduous forest carpeted in the crisp, plate-sized leaves of teak trees. A landscape of pale browns & yellows stretched out beneath the brilliant blue sky of an Indian summer. The forest is interspersed with semi-evergreen & evergreen flora, acacia, scrub jungle, grassland & rocky hills. Fed by perennial & seasonal rivers & streams, the Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary has large water bodies like the Kamleshwar Dam that are good for marsh crocodiles, reptiles & birds.

Other predators include hyena, jackal & jungle cat. These are supported by a healthy prey-base composed of Samba & Chital deer, Chinkara gazelle, Four-horned & Blue Bull antelope, Wild boar & langur monkeys.

We have ensured that only 2 guests travel in each gypsy, giving you maximum freedom of movement to capture images from the optimum angle, & space as you experience the wonders of the forest over the course of the day. Photography tuition will be provided as needed by Jayne Bond LRPS, with knowledgeable wildlife guidance provided by a local expert.

Airport transfers, in trip accommodation on a full board basis, jeep fees & park fees are also included in the cost of the tour, making things simple for you so that you can focus on making the most of your wildlife photography experience.

Totally relaxed in our presence, one of Gir's magnificent Asiatic Lions captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

A Jackal family photographed within the Asiatic Lion reserve captured during the NaturesLens Asiatic Lions of Gir Photography Holiday

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to come face to face with the majestic Asiatic lion by booking early, as our tours offer limited places.

Lions of Gir Photography Holiday AVAILABILITY

5 places available

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT

This list is a guide on what to take on the tour. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the items listed as it wouldn’t all fit in your luggage /camera bag anyway! Items in BOLD are classed as essentials.

Camera Equipment:

  • Digital Camera Body.
  • Spare digital camera body.
  • Telephoto lens – no shorter than 200mm, but 300mm or longer is advisable. If you have a 400, 500 or 600mm lens, bring it!
  • 1.4x Teleconverter/Extender.  If you have to buy one for this for the trip, please make sure you get one that works with your telephoto lens. If the longest lens you have is 200mm, a teleconverter/extender is essential.
  • 2.0x teleconverter /extender.  Again, if you have to buy one for this trip, please make sure you get one that works with your telephoto lens.
  • 70-200mm.
  • 24-105mm or another wide angle lens.
  • Sturdy tripod with a gimbal type tripod head is advised.
  • Right angled viewfinder.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare batteries.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  • Camera and lens dust cover.
  • Card reader.
  • Laptop or another type of storage device.

Camera & Lens Recommendations:

Cropped Sensor:

In general, a 500mm lens can prove too much. The ideal lens would be 300mm + 1.4x converter or/and 100-400mm f5.6 Canon or 200-400mm f4 Nikon, Nikon 80-400mm f5,6.

Full frame sensor: 

In general 500mm, but optimal would be 400mm plus 1.4x converter or 300mm with 1.4x and 2x converter. Very good lens for full frame would also be a 70-200mm f2.8 plus 1.4x converter.

Clothing:

  • Thin neutral coloured t-shirts & blouses.
  • Neutral coloured trousers.
  • Hat (a safari style hat with a broad rim all around the edge is best).
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Bandana (to protect your nose and mouth from dust).
  • Sensible shoes or boots for safari.
  • Flip flops or easy shoes for the lodge.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

NaturesLens photography holidays include only the travel stated on the event page, flights of any nature are not included. Flight details, where applicable, are made available to clients in plenty of time to allow for booking at the best prices available.

The photography holiday itinerary is subject to change & is to be considered provisional.

NaturesLens photography holidays require a minimum number of participants, if sufficient photography holiday places are not sold the photography holiday may not be run, this photography holiday has a minimum participant level of 3 plus NaturesLens guide(s).

Not all mentioned wildlife can be observed & photographed at all times of the year, thus some activities may be considered seasonal & not available.

BOOKING FORM