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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

One of the Barn Owls typical of the kind of images that may be captured on the NaturesLens Bird of Prey Workshops

April’s Bird of Prey Workshop

April 2017 saw David & I running the first of our Welsh Bird of Prey Workshops of 2017. This photography workshop is a particular favourite of mine because it is so relaxed & intimate due to the group size & everyone comes away with some fabulous images & new friendships made.

We brought some new props along to the workshop to mix things up a bit. These included a milk churn, a couple of storm lanterns & a variety of different wheels – perfect for getting a little creative as well as honing one’s composition skills.

One of the Barn Owls typical of the kind of images that may be captured on the NaturesLens Bird of Prey Workshop 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

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

A Photogenic Barn Owl Posed On Wooden Farm Wheel Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

Our Welsh Birds of Prey Photography Workshop dates for 2017

We are happy to announce – & to be accepting bookings for – our Welsh Birds of Prey Photography Workshop dates for 2017, as in previous years, these are to be held in a small village near Welshpool, these workshops are ideally suited to both amateur & semi-professional photographers looking to expand their portfolio. Photography leaders from NaturesLens will provide guidance & advice when needed to assist you in making the most of every photography opportunity.

You can be assured that we are already on the look out for some new props to bring up for posing the birds upon.

You can view the individual event pages here – Spring 2017 Birds of Prey Photography WorkshopAutumn 2017 Birds of Prey Photography Workshop.

Spring 2017 Birds of Prey Photography Workshop – 22nd & 23rd April 2017.

The fresh spring air & green foliage make the setting hugely attractive for photographers, & if we’re lucky, there may even be a bluebell or two. Both Pui Hang & David will be on hand to assist you in honing in your composition & motion photography skills so that you obtain editorial-quality images to cherish for years to come. Over the Saturday afternoon & full day on Sunday you will have abundant opportunity to use the varied lighting conditions & different locations at your disposal.

The Wonderful Little Owl Inspects The Outside World From A Broken Barn Door Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

We will have extensive access to our falconer’s land over the course of the workshop, providing you with optimum choice of positions from which you can photograph the elusive owls & raptors as they are held & released within the perfect controlled setting for you to capture impressive images. Our falconer has an experienced eye for photography, so he knows what nature photographers will be looking for & will assist accordingly when needed.

The format of this workshop consists of a special late afternoon/early evening session with an owl on the Saturday, giving you an amazing opportunity to get up close to this magnificent bird & take close-up images; followed by a full day of birds of prey photography on Sunday.

The Little Owl That We Have Available To Photograph Poses Perched On A Wheel Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop The Long Eared Owl Poses Beautifully On A Weathered Fence Post Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

Autumn 2017 Birds of Prey Photography Workshop – 21st & 22nd October 2017.

NaturesLens invites you on a 1.5 day photography workshop, based near to Welshpool, capturing impressive images of birds of prey using the varied backdrops which the locality has to offer; including disused quarries, barn & farm areas & expanses of woodland. Our guides will offer advice to ensure that you obtain magnificent photographs of these bird species both posed & in-flight.

The Peregrine Screams Out From It's Vantage Point In The Quarry Area That Is Available For Our Use Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

Autumn brings rich textures & colours to rural areas, as the leaves turn to red, gold & brown, & begin to form a soft blanket which covers the ground. This provides a stunning backdrop for nature photography, & the soft light & warm colours will allow you to capture breathtaking images of bird species.

A Portrait Of A Barn Owl Which Is Perched On A Wooden Farm Wheel Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

The Peregrine Falcon That We Make Use Of, Poses In Stone Quarry Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

A goshawk image captured from the hides used on the Golden Eagles & Goshawks In Winter Photography Holiday

Announcing two New Exciting Bird Photography Holidays

Following on from our Bears of Finland Photography Holiday announcement of earlier this weekend, today we are spilling the beans on a further two new bird photography holidays for 2017 that should be packed with superb opportunities to add some stunning images to your portfolio.

Eagles & Raptors of Spain Photography Holiday

An image of a Bonelli's Eagle - typical of the images that may be captured during the Eagles & Raptors of Spain 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 NaturesLens leaders where needed. Spaces are therefore limited, so book early to avoid disappointment!

Full details of the Eagles & Raptors of Spain Photography Holiday are available here – response has been great so far & we only have two places remaining available.

This photography holiday is being led by Sean Weekly, one of the NaturesLens guiding team since 2016.

Golden Eagles & Goshawks in Winter Photography Holiday

A goshawk image captured from the hides used on the Golden Eagles & Goshawks In Winter Photography Holiday

Join NaturesLens in the snow-covered forests & mountains of northern Norway, observing breathtaking scenes as golden eagles & goshawks soar & settle in their remote & unspoilt habitats. NaturesLens guides will assist you in taking stunning photographs of these impressive bird species, the Golden Eagles & Goshawks, as well as others, with the dramatic mountain landscape providing the perfect backdrop.

This is a wildlife photography excursion like no other, designed with photographers in mind to ensure you are given the best experience possible. Book early as places are limited.

Full details of the Golden Eagles & Goshawks In Winter Photography Holiday are available here.

This photography holiday is being led by Kevin Morgans, a veteran member of the NaturesLens guiding team since NaturesLens first started.

Events

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

A Close Up Of The Wonderful Long Eared Owl Who Is Always Popular On Our Photography Workshops Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

Autumn Birds of Prey Photography Workshop

Autumn Birds of Prey Photography Workshop

NaturesLens invites amateur & semi-professional wildlife photographers to experience the wonders of Welsh rural landscapes, capturing beautiful images of birds of prey against stunning backdrops on a variety of natural perches. This workshop is designed to give you a wide range of photography opportunities to hone your composition & birds in flight skills.

NaturesLens leaders will provide guidance & advice when needed to assist you in obtaining outstanding images to add to your portfolio. Booking early is essential as spaces are limited.

The Peregrine Falcon That We Make Use Of, Poses In Stone Quarry Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

NaturesLens invites you on a 1.5 day birds of prey photography workshop, based in Welshpool, capturing impressive images of birds of prey using the varied backdrops which the locality has to offer; including disused quarries, barn & farm areas & expanses of woodland. Our guides will offer advice to ensure that you obtain magnificent photographs of these bird species both posed & in-flight.

Autumn brings rich textures & colours to rural areas, as the leaves turn to red, gold & brown, & begin to form a soft blanket which covers the ground. This provides a stunning backdrop for nature photography, & the soft light & warm colours will allow you to capture breathtaking images of bird species. NaturesLens leaders will assist you in honing in your composition & motion photography skills so that you obtain editorial-quality images to cherish for years to come.

Our falconer, who is also a farmer, will allow you extensive access to his land over the course of the birds of prey photography workshop, providing you with optimum choice of positions from which you can photograph the charismatic owls & raptors as they are held & released within the perfect controlled setting for you to capture impressive images. He himself has an experienced eye for photography, so he knows what nature photographers will be looking for & will assist accordingly when needed.

A Photogenic Barn Owl Posed On Wooden Farm Wheel Photographed On The NaturesLens Welsh Birds Of Prey Photography Workshop

The format of this workshop consists of a special late afternoon / early evening session with an owl on the Saturday, followed by a full day of birds of prey photography on Sunday.  Shorter days move in during autumn, giving you the chance to use the soft light in our unique late afternoon / early evening session to achieve creative imagery.

Join us & delve into the expansive rural heartland of Wales, capturing majestic birds of prey on camera in picturesque natural habitat. Places on our autumn workshop are limited to ensure we can provide the best experience for every photographer, so book early to avoid disappointment!

Autumn Birds of Prey Photography Workshop Availability

Spaces available

Recommended Equipment

This list is a guide on what to take on the workshop. 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.

Clothing:

  • Waterproof coat.
  • Waterproof trousers.
  • Warm jacket or fleece for once the sun has set.
  • Sensible shoes or boots.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Hat.

Camera Equipment:

  • Digital Camera Body.
  • Telephoto lens - in the range 70mm – 300mm. If you have a 400, 500 or 600mm lens, bring it, we may get some use of it!
  • 1.4x Teleconverter/Extender.  If you have to buy one, 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.
  • Sturdy tripod with a gimbal type tripod head.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare batteries.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.

Additional Notes

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

NaturesLens workshops require a minimum number of participants, if sufficient workshop places are not sold the workshop may not be run, this tour has a minimum participant level of 6 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