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Dan’s second report from our Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

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One of the hoopoes returns the nest site with a freshly caught grub photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

I mentioned in my previous blog that during this year’s trip to Calera, for the NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday, that Spring was far more advanced than the year before. Previously the rollers hadn’t even turned up yet whereas this year they were already establishing nesting locations & ferociously chasing anything that came near, including a kestrel at one stage! They weren’t feeding young yet so the visits weren’t so frequent but there aren’t many birds in Europe as stunning as these & it was a pleasure to photograph them.

A European Roller showing it's rear plummage photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday One of the European Rollers found on the Spanish Plains photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

A firm favourite amongst everyone is always the carrion hide. The action is constant with varied species & even the odd guest appearance from a fox or if you’re really lucky an imperial eagle! The regulars are just as fun though & watching lots of griffon & black vultures feasting is quite a sight! This hide really fills up the memory cards!

A griffon vulture comes into land at the carrion hide photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday A pair of black vultures amongst the heather that lines the area around the carrion hide photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

Speaking of favourites, my favourite hide in Calera is that of the lesser kestrels. They are charming small falcons & a joy to watch at the colony as they bring back all sorts of tasty morsels. With the odd hen harrier flying by in the fields behind & the bubbling from bee-eaters overhead it’s a great hide to spend an afternoon or two in!

One of the lesser kestrels photographed from the roof level hide photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday One of the lesser kestrels returns to the roof top nesting site with a freshly caught grub photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday A different angle for this lesser kestrel on the roof photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday A pair of the lesser kestrels mating at their nesting site photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

During this year’s trip I took a drive with our local guide to look for red-legged partridge. An introduced species in the UK but don’t be put off – the birds in Iberia have quite striking markings & make a nice subject. We stalked them in the car in the surrounding countryside & the array of photos you can take make a nice addition to the hide work here.

A red legged partridge walks through a ploughed field photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday A red legged partridge walks amongst the dried grass of the Spanish Plains photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

I’ll finish with another common european bird but also another wonderful one; the hoopoe! I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like seeing or photographing one of these. When they raise their crest there are few European birds that look more tropical!

One of the hoopoes lands upon returning the nest site with a freshly caught grub photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday One of the hoopoes returns the nest site with a freshly caught grub photographed during the 2017 Natureslens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

If you’re looking for a great trip with a really wide variety of European classics as well as the Iberian specials such as black-winged kite & the bustards then the Spanish Bird Photography Holiday will not disappoint!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO UNDERTAKE THE SPANISH BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY 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 Bird 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 Bird 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.

Dan reports in from our Spanish Bird Photography Holiday

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One of Calera's Bustards at sunrise image captured during a NaturesLens 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 Read more

Derek reviews our Birds of Spain Photography Holiday

One of the Black winged Stilts poses one only one leg photographed during the Natureslens 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

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

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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

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

David’s images of the Birds of the Spanish Plains

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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

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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

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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