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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.

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

Some thoughts on the Birds of the Spanish Plains

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The rare & elusive Black Winged Kite - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday in Spain

Spain’s central plains, about 90 minutes from Madrid, retain their rustic charm & beauty with dilapidate terracotta roofed buildings, rusty farm machinery & very few built up areas. Subsistence farming mixed with large areas of cork oak, olive groves & wilderness create a wide range of unspoilt habitats for the birds of the Spanish plains. This all has the wonderful backdrop of the Sierra de Gredos, a stunning mountain range home to Iberian Ibex, Imperial Eagle, Black Vultures & much more! What really struck me though was the abundance of invertebrates & small birds. A clear indication of how productive the area is. Read more

The first client images from the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

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We’ve been sent some great images from clients in the last week, we will start with a few images of the Birds of Spain, from one of the participants that attended the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday at the end of April, Andrew Oldacre, who had this to say about the trip …

“The hides, their location & backgrounds, all worked well & the opportunities to take some stunning images were many & regular … Overall I can heartly recommend this trip!”

More on these particular birds in an upcoming post from Dan, but the lake hide & the black-winged stilt that was in attendance appears to have been a hit with quite a few of the participants.

A Black Winged Stilt photographed from a lake-side hide - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday
A Black Winged Stilt walks along the shoreline photographed from a lake-side hide - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

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Birds of Spain, a week of amazing photography

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Montagus Harrier photographed in Calera from the hides used on the NaturesLens Calera Photography Holiday

During Mid-April 2015, NaturesLens have been offered exclusive use of some hides in Spain. Located not far from Madrid, the hides provide some great photography of some of the birds of Spain, in short, some stunning species at some awesome locations! This is a trip that offers unique wildlife photography of some of Spain’s best bird species from some of the best hides we know of.

Great Bustard at Sunrise photographed in Calera from the hides used on the NaturesLens Birds of Spain Photgraphy Holiday

Species you should be able to capture incredible images from the hides include the following:

  • Great Bustard
  • Little Bustard
  • Kestrel
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Kite
  • Black-Shouldered Kite
  • Marsh Harrier & Montagu’s Harrier
  • Hoopoe, Bee Eater, Shrike, Roller & Magpie
  • Curlew & more from a Lake hide
  • Black Vultures

If you’d like to see more sample photos of some of these species, these are available on the booking page – all were taken at the hides that we will be using. If you want to see any further photos, please contact us by email.

Reserve a place on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera, Spain Photography Holiday, with a deposit of only £300, balance due February 2015.

Flights to Madrid are not included in the trip price, but are currently available for an approximate cost of £100.

Montagus Harrier photographed in Calera from the hides used on the NaturesLens Birds of Spain Photgraphy Holiday