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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

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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

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

Alan’s thoughts from his two weeks with the Birds of Spain

Two years ago I travelled to Spain with Natureslens to photograph a wide variety of the birds of Spain in Calera y Chozas, & I enjoyed it so much that I booked to go back again in 2017: but this time with a difference. The week before the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday, Natureslens also had arranged a trip to photograph Eagles & other birds in the Sierra Morena region found in the south of Spain; consequently, I rolled the two trips together, with a day of downtime, in between, in Madrid.

Part 1 of my blog for NaturesLens covers the Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday.

Week 1 – Spanish Raptors in Adamuz

The trip started with a very early flight from London to Malaga, where we were met by our local guides. A comfortable 2-hour drive took us inland to Adamuz – a small provincial town in the Sierra Morena region & our base for the week. We were soon settled into our hotel to unpack & freshen up before meeting in a restaurant just minutes from the hotel (run by the same people) where we received a warm welcome from our hosts. In the early evening our guides took us out for a recce to get a feel for the region.

A panorama of the Adamuz landscape photographed on one of the pair of NaturesLens Wildlife Photography Holidays to capture images of the Birds of Spain Read more

A Golden Eagle stares straight down the lens at the photographer photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

Sean reports in from our Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

Last month saw me heading off to the mountains of the Sierra Morena in Spain leading the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday.

I knew from the itinerary that had been planned that it was going to be an amazing week of photography with some great sightings & photo opportunities. After a very early flight, the group & I arrived in Spain meeting up with the local guides. After a couple of hours on the road we arrived in the local town of Adamuz, which would be our base & home for the duration of the trip. The town is situated in beautiful natural surroundings & is a very picturesque location. Due to the time we arrived, we decided we were going to explore a few wildlife locations that we would be working on over the coming days. It was a great afternoon exploring our surroundings & getting some ideas for the images to come.

The next day we split into two groups to keep noise etc to a minimum whilst working from the hides. A couple of us spent the day in the Golden Eagle hide.

A magnificent Golden Eagle photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography HolidayA Golden Eagle peers around a log photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday 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

Events

Mating Bee Eaters photographed in Calera from the hides used on the NaturesLens Calera Photography Holiday

Spanish Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

Join NaturesLens on an exciting photography excursion suited to wildlife enthusiasts, photographing the diverse bird species that inhabit the plains of Calera. With a wide selection of comfortable hides throughout the area at our disposal, we will provide you with the best bird photography opportunities possible, capturing them in flight, within their habitats & interacting with one another. Working from dawn ’til dusk witnessing this wonderful range of species in action, this is an experience like no other – you can’t afford to miss out!

One of the Black winged Stilts that frequented the lake hide photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

The range of bird species which thrive in Calera are a sight to behold. From the Little Owl to Black & Griffon Vultures, their characteristics & common behaviours are diverse, but they all live side by side making up a large proportion of the delicate local ecosystem which exists in this region. Birds can provide some of the most exciting wildlife photography opportunities, as their quick, unpredictable behaviour keeps us on our toes & enables captivating movement & in-flight imagery to be captured.

A pair of Bee eaters gently pass food between them photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday
Our 9-day excursion to Calera offers individuals opportunities to photograph a huge range of native species, including the Bee Eater, Little Owl, Great & Little Bustard, Black & Griffon Vultures, Lesser & Common Kestrel, Hoopoe, & the Black Winged Kite, as well as many others. We offer an all-inclusive accommodation & meal package to ensure that all you need to worry about is taking unique & mesmerising photographs.

A hoopoe comes in to land showing off the crest which is the trademark feature of these birds photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

Sunrise & sunset are often considered the prime times of day for creative photography, so unlike other holidays & tours, we ensure that our photography sessions make the most of these times of day. This provides unrivalled exposure to the variety of species & the environment which inhabit this region.

NaturesLens provides 7 days packed with hide sessions, & on most days you will have the opportunity to use different hides in the morning & afternoon to photograph different species. This trip works on a rotation basis, so that each member of the group gets the opportunity to take photographs from a variety of hides. The region is home to a wide range of Iberian Southern European specialities, & we will do our best to tailor your schedule to one that is personalised to you, if you make us aware of your target species.

A Little Owl with prey photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

An adult hoopoe gently feeding a caught insect to one of the young from this years clutch photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

One of Spains Black Kites captured in flight against a snowy mountain range photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

The freedom we provide with the times of day for photography is important, as many of these bird species are very wary & cautious around humans, & it may therefore be necessary to arrive under the cover of darkness. It will also be advisable to approach slowly, & keep noise at a minimum whilst in the hides so as not to startle the birds, as well as to optimise your chances of photographing the birds whilst they are unaware of your presence.

The weather can vary between different times of day in this region at this time of year, so we advise that you bring layers & prepare from somewhat unpredictable weather conditions. Join NaturesLens for a wildlife photography experience you will never forget. Places are limited, so book today!

A bee eater captured tossing a bee before swallowing it photographed on the Natureslens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

A Hoopoe delicately feeds its young photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

Birds of Calera Photography Holiday Availability

SPACES AVAILABLE

Recommended Equipment

Clothing

We recommend that you dress up warmly for early morning starts – it can get quite cold sitting in the hide in the early hours. Wearing layers is advisable so that they may be shed at a later stage where necessary.

For our boat trips, non-slip waterproof boots or wellington boots are recommended. As with most boats water can slosh through the scuppers if the boat rolls so sandals or light pumps can get wet and spoil your enjoyment.

  • Waterproof (and windproof) coat.
  • Warm trousers, preferably waterproof.
  •  Thermal clothing.
  •  Thermal socks.
  •  Non slip waterproof boots or wellington boots (no cleats or studs please).
  • Waterproof cap or hat.
  •  Gloves.
  •  Sunglasses.
  •  Warm fleece for early morning starts and once the sun has set.
  •  Clothing for hide work should be camouflage or neutral browns & greens.
  •  Water bottle or flask for tea & coffee.
  •  Sunscreen.
  •  Travel sickness pills.
Camera Equipment

  • Digital camera body.
  • Lenses in the range 70mm – 500mm.
  • Lenses with f2.8 will give the best light capture and speed of focussing.
  • An alternative to long telephoto lenses is a tele-converter (e.g. 1.4x or 2x).
  •  Monopod or tripod.
  • Remote shutter release.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare battery.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  •  Camera and lens waterproof cover.
  • Laptop or another type of storage device – we will be shooting lots of images.

Additional Notes

The residential workshop itinerary is subject to change & is to be considered provisional.

NaturesLens residential workshops require a minimum number of participants, if sufficient residential workshop places are not sold the residential workshop may not be run, this residential workshop has a minimum participant level of 4 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 Golden Eagle perches whilst bathed in the golden light of the setting sun photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

 

Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

NaturesLens invites wildlife photographers of amateur & semi-professional ability to join them in escaping to the wilderness of the Sierra Morena, capturing stunning images of native eagle & raptor species. Observe these magnificent birds as they soar overhead, scouting out prey across the hills below.

Based in a rustic Spanish village, you will enjoy the unspoilt scenery & emblematic species which the region has to offer.

Small group sizes ensure that you have optimum use of the hides, allowing you to capture spectacular images from the best angles, with photography guidance provided by Sean Weekly where needed.

Spaces are therefore limited, so book early to avoid disappointment!

A Golden Eagle perches whilst bathed in the golden light of the setting sun photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

The Sierra Morena is the longest-reaching mountain range in Spain, making up a formidable barrier protecting the fusion of culture & wildlife which lies north of the mountains from the harsh Atlantic winds coming from the south. This combined with low tourist numbers has protected the area from damage & degradation, maintaining an unspoilt natural environment & allowing native & migratory species to thrive.
Your base throughout the 8 day Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday will be a small village, offering peace & quiet & traditional local culture & food for you to enjoy. Your photography will benefit from unrivalled access to 5 separate hides, placed strategically within the landscape to provide optimum opportunity to photograph a range of species including the common Kestrel, Spanish Imperial Eagle & the Golden Eagle.

An additional drinking pool hide offering excellent positioning to capture images of a range of migratory birds coming to rest at this location.

A kestrel flies back to it's nest within a derelict Spanish farm building photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday A hoopoe perches with a recently caught grub photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

 

The region offers an idyllic backdrop of rolling hills & desolate rural expanses, broken up by areas of dense evergreen bushes & shrubs as well as pine & oaks woodland. The sparse populated areas are home to cobbled streets, vineyards & traditional village buildings, which only add to the rural aesthetic of the region.

A hoopoe returns to the nest having captured a grub for it's nesting young photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday A Golden Eagle peers around a log photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday A Golden Eagle perches photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday A Golden Eagle perched photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

This rustic Mediterranean landscape offers keen wildlife photographers the perfect opportunity to capturing stunning images of a wide range of bird species, from raptors to owls & passerines, as they fly overhead or settle in their unspoilt habitat. With 8 nights’ accommodation provided on a full board basis, & Canon camera lenses available on loan where needed, everything is taken care of for you so that experiencing & photographing the species & their environment are all you need to worry about.

This trip suits keen photographers with a desire to experience the magnificent wildlife which the Sierra Morena has to offer; capturing editorial-quality images of a range of bird species, & others, to treasure for years to come. Places are highly limited to ensure the best experience for every guest, so book early to avoid disappointment.

A Golden Eagle comes in to land photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday Availability

Spaces available

Recommended Equipment

Clothing

We recommend that you dress up warmly for early morning starts – it can get quite cold sitting in the hide in the early hours. Wearing layers is advisable so that they may be shed at a later stage where necessary.

For our boat trips, non-slip waterproof boots or wellington boots are recommended. As with most boats water can slosh through the scuppers if the boat rolls so sandals or light pumps can get wet and spoil your enjoyment.

  • Waterproof (and windproof) coat.
  • Warm trousers, preferably waterproof.
  •  Thermal clothing.
  •  Thermal socks.
  •  Non slip waterproof boots or wellington boots (no cleats or studs please).
  • Waterproof cap or hat.
  •  Gloves.
  •  Sunglasses.
  •  Warm fleece for early morning starts and once the sun has set.
  •  Clothing for hide work should be camouflage or neutral browns & greens.
  •  Water bottle or flask for tea & coffee.
  •  Sunscreen.
  •  Travel sickness pills.
Camera Equipment

  • Digital camera body.
  • Lenses in the range 70mm – 500mm.
  • Lenses with f2.8 will give the best light capture and speed of focussing.
  • An alternative to long telephoto lenses is a tele-converter (e.g. 1.4x or 2x).
  •  Monopod or tripod.
  • Remote shutter release.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare battery.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  •  Camera and lens waterproof cover.
  • Laptop or another type of storage device – we will be shooting lots of images.

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 4 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.

Unless stated otherwise, all NaturesLens wildlife photography holidays are suitable for single travellers, we design our holidays so that each participant gets their own room, there is no sharing & no single supplement.

BOOKING FORM