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Sean reports in from our Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

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A Golden Eagle stares straight down the lens at the photographer photographed during the NaturesLens 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

Some of Jayne’s images from our Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday

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An Alaskan Bald Eagle Barks In The Air After Successfully Dragging A Fish From The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The moment we see the last client off when we’ve ended one of our photography holidays, usually sees us both breathe a sigh of relief, & the end of the recent Alaska Photography Holiday was no different; that point has normally been reached only by planning over a period of several years, by having planned contingency plans & contingency plans for contingency plans; at that juncture, we can perform the final few tasks to wrap the tour up, one of these is to send an email thanking our clients for their participation & inviting them to contribute some images that they captured whilst away with us, to our blog – we love showing off what clients achieve as we feel it is a good measure for other clients to see what can be captured in the relatively short time frame of one of our holidays.

So when our clients send in images or thank us via email we beam from cheek to cheek – it’s even more awesome when we receive a testimonial like this, from Jayne, regarding our Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday:

“Back home after a fabulous 10 days in Alaska. Been up for about 30 hours so it’s going to be an early night but just wanted to say anyone thinking about a wildlife photographic holiday I can’t recommend NaturesLens highly enough. Every detail is covered to make sure we have the best photographic opportunities & we always have a great laugh together. Thank you David Miles & Pui Hang Miles for everything you do.”

Jayne first published a blog posting of her own, with her recollections of the trip, you can read that blog posting here, then she sent us a selection of different images again, also of the Alaskan Bald Eagles, for us to publish on our blog – so here are those images:

An Alaskan Bald Eagle Barks In The Air After Successfully Dragging A Fish From The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

As Jayne mentions on her own blog posting, the main focus of our Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday is, rather obviously, the Bald Eagles & so these first photos show the varied behaviour of these amazing birds – all up & down the Chilkat valley & the river that has carved it’s course through the mountains, eagles will be found; they fish the chumming salmon from the river & feast on the bloated fish on the banks of the frozen river, upon landing a fish or ‘liberating’ it from another bird, the adult bald eagles typically throw their head back & bark into the air, showing their dominance & announcing that they are the ‘top of the tree’.

A Pair Of Alaskan Bald Eagles Jostle Over A Fish In The Shallows Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Trio Of Alaskan Bald Eagles Squabble Over A Fish In A Tributary Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Typically this dominance is short lived, other eagles will swoop in & attempt, in the case of the juvenile eagles, to intimidate the current fish-holder off the fish via a series of low-level swoops; in the case of the adult versus adult, the swoops are far more brutal, often resulting in contact & one bird being slammed to the ground.

It is not just eagle versus eagle contact that the fish-holder has to contend with, ravens constantly dot the river banks waiting to challenge for scraps of fish.

An Alaskan Bald Eagle Comes In To Land Upstream From Haines Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday An Alaskan Bald Eagle Eats A Fish Whilst Being Mobbed By Ravens On A Bank Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday An Alaskan Bald Eagle Banks In The Cold Air Of The Alaskan Winter Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Often times, the bald eagle will become so annoyed with the developing situation that he will take off with the fish & fly elsewhere to finish the meal.

An Alaskan Bald Eagle Spreads It's Wings To Slow It's Flight On A Frozen Bank Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Often times, between meals or whilst waiting for another eagle to land a fish, the eagles perch & pose, fly around & land, all on washed up trees & drift wood that has been swept downstream by the Chilkat river.

An Alaskan Bald Eagle Feeds On A Fish In The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday An Alaskan Bald Eagle Glides Through The Cold Air Of The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday An Alaskan Bald Eagle Perched On A Fallen Tree Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Like many of our photography holidays that mention a specific species in the title, the bald eagles were the main focus of the NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday, but many other species were spotted in the Chilkat Eagle Reserve & two further days allow participants to expand their portfolio out to further topics or species.

An Alaskan Bald Eagle Crows In The Air Perched On A Tree Close To One Of The Viewing Points Along The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Many of our clients produce calendars or photo books after a trip & a variety of images make these ‘pop’. So for one day, the group was offered the chance to head across the border into British Columbia & the Yukon for some high altitude landscape photography.

The Stunning British Columbian Mountains Soared Towards The Clouds Just Across The Border Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

For another couple of days, Jayne & several others took the opportunity to visit the Kroschel Wildlife Centre, this is not a game farm like many of the ‘wildlife centres’ in the USA are, the centre takes in orphaned or injured animals from across Alaska, the owner, Steve, frequently gets calls from vets all over Alaska & is asked if he can rehome a certain species. The centre is ‘home’ to a wide variety of animals including bear, wolverine, lynx, porcupine, red fox & wolves, some of which are shown in images, captured by Jayne, below:

A Lynx Yawning After Waking From It's Slumber At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Porcupine Caught In A Fall Of Snow At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday One Of The Rescued Snowy Owls Of The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Rescued Grizzly Bear Orphan Who Now Lives At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Rescued Alaskan Red Fox Who Now Calls The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Home Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Rescued Alaskan Red Fox Demonstrates It's Inquisitive Nature Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Orphaned Alaskan Wolf Who Now Calls The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Home Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography HolidayWhilst 2017 is too busy to prompt a return to the Chilkat Valley of Alaska & the wonderful wildlife that exists within this harsh environment, NaturesLens will be returning to Haines in 2018 or 2019 – if you would like to join us on for another Alaskan Photography Holiday, send us a message & we will add you to a list of interested clients.

An Alaskan Bald Eagle Soars In The Wintery Air Against The Backdrop Of The Mountains And Forests Of The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Ian’s images of the Bald Eagles of Alaska

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The Silhouette Of A Soaring Bald Eagle Over The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Late November 2016 saw the inaugural NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography Holiday to South East Alaska to photograph the Bald Eagle ‘Council’. The ‘Council’ is the annual gathering of thousands of Bald Eagles on the shores of the Chilkat River to feed up for Winter on the late run of Chum or ‘Dog’ Salmon. NaturesLens based the photography holiday in Haines, a small town on the Alaskan coast – & it would be difficult to find a friendlier place.

A Bald Eagle Perched In One Of The Trees That Line The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

As usual David & PN had sorted out all the travel & accommodation detail &, in addition to their presence, we enjoyed the company of 2 local guides, Joe & Thomas, both of whom know the area intimately & are accomplished photographers in their own right. The omens were therefore well set for finding the best sites for capturing images of the main subject for this holiday, the Bald Eagles of Alaska.

The Famous Alaskan Passage Lighthouse That Greets Those Who Travel Up To Haines By Ferry Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The scenery of the Alaskan ‘panhandle’ is the stunning product of glaciation – high snow-covered mountains & deep, wide valleys. We journeyed in from Juneau by ferry, which enabled us to take in the scenery at a leisurely pace & also to acclimatise to the temperatures (cold or, alternatively, bloody freezing, if you choose to go on deck at 0∘C when travelling at 15 knots). For much of the journey, we were glad to be scenery peepers from the comfort of the lounge!

The Silhouette Of A Soaring Bald Eagle Over The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Bald Eagle Soars Through The Wintery Air Of The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A juvenile bald eagle attempts to steal a fish from an adult bald eagle - on the right - the juveniles go through several distinct moults prior to adulthood - photographed on the NaturesLens Bald Eagles of Alaska Photography HolidayA Quintet Of Trumpeter Swans, These Are Also Commonly Found In The Bald Eagle Preserve Of The Chilkat Valley Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

There’s not a lot of usable daylight in Alaska in November so, having breakfasted in our comfortable apartment rooms, we usually set out soon after 7am to get to the prime Bald Eagle viewing sites. We became intimately familiar with the ‘pull-outs’ on the Highway North West of Haines. One because it was a good starting site & a second because it had a loo (don’t get too excited – no water, no heating, no warm seat (unless you got in fast after the last occupant!)).

The daily morning challenge became to balance high ISO against available light to get images which were not too grainy, but in which the birds were sharp. Later as the light improved, the sites were beautifully side lit by sunrise, leading to some stunning golden tinged imagery. The hunt was always on for the iconic images – low flying over the river with wing-tip grazing the water, the mid-air ‘L’ shape, & the fights over fish. We moved around freely, picking sites down at water level or alternatively high on the bank to get the best vantage points. There was sufficient space for everyone, even when organised groups converged with the many independent photographers on a particular highlight.

A Pair Of Trumpeter Swans Attempt A Take Off From The Chilly Waters Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Portrait Of One Of The Chilkat Valley Bald Eagles Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Pair Of Bald Eagle Squabble Over A Fish In The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The weather varied from dry & bright to overcast to falling snow. The latter was particularly challenging as, whilst it gave us atmospheric images, autofocus tended to lock onto the snowflakes rather than the birds. On the other hand, we had some star birds that took up a stance in a nearby tree at an accessible height, & were very tolerant of the surrounding throng on cameras.

As the good light was generally over by 2pm (it was dark by 4pm), lunch was usually a snack & the evening meal was taken early in keeping with American custom.

It was off-peak season in Haines so the choice of eateries was limited but nonetheless no disappointment. Of course, the cuisine leaned towards archetypal American influenced international, but a local Bakery became a firm favourite with both a Thai & American menu. The fact that it’s run by a crazy, fun Thai lady was the added bonus. We were there for the Thanksgiving weekend – a family holiday with most of the shops closed. Nevertheless, the Bakery whipped up a takeaway Thanksgiving Supper for us, & the hotel kindly let us use a Conference Room so we could sit down together. A further highlight for the connoisseur of international imbibition, was the micro-brewery right next door to the hotel. A peculiarity of local licensing laws was that it could not operate as a bar; however, it was permitted to allow ‘tasting’ so long as no-one consumed more than the equivalent of 3 pints in any 12 hour period! There’s also a gin distillery but we never quite made it that far.

A Bald Eagle Touches The Tips Of One Wing In The Frozen Waters Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday A Bald Eagle Flies Gracefully Above The Waters Of The Chilkat River Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday Eyes Focused On Target, The Bald Eagle Is A Formidable Bird When In Flight Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

The photography was not all about bald eagles though; some of the group took the opportunity to travel over the border into Canada & the Yukon interior where there was plenty of opportunity for landscapes & cloudscapes, & we even came across 3 moose, although the grab shots did not do them justice.

The Snowscapes Of British Columbia, Located Just A Few Miles Over The Border From The Normal Locations That We Made Use Of Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

There is also the Kroschel Wildlife Sanctuary, with examples of Alaskan fauna such as Red Fox, Grizzly Bear, Wolverine, Wolf, Pine Marten & Silver Fox. The animals are all orphans or rescue who would otherwise not have had a future. They live in large free-range enclosures & are habituated to their handler, but other than that they are ‘wild’ & many have been stars in wildlife documentaries. The enclosures are constructed to facilitate photography & this was a good opportunity to get close to animals that are either seldom seen or only from afar.

A Red Tailed Hawk Who Now Lives At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday One Of The Pine Martins Who Are Now Resident At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday Jpg An Orphaned Red Fox, Named Isis, Who Now Lives At The Kroschel Wildlife Centre Photographed On The NaturesLens Bald Eagles Of Alaska Photography Holiday

Our departure day was due to include half a day’s photography before a charter flight out to Juneau. However, an imminent storm meant we were called urgently to the airport & managed to ‘escape’ shortly before the weather arrived, dumping over a foot of snow.

I mentioned this was the inaugural Bald Eagles of Alaska photography tour, the implication being that there will be others. David & PN have confirmed this, although the dates are not yet set. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in capturing these iconic birds, in a stunning location & a fun atmosphere, let them know.

Announcing two New Exciting Bird Photography Holidays

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

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

Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday

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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

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 7 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 the early mornings – 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.

  •  Warm fleece for early mornings and once the sun has set.
  •  Clothing for hide work should be camouflage or neutral browns & greens.
  •  Water bottle or flask for tea & coffee.

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).
  •  Tripod.
  • Spare memory cards.
  • Spare battery.
  • Battery charger.
  • Lens cleaning cloth.
  • 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, most 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 - if this is unclear for any event, please check the accomodation arrangements prior to making a booking.

Please note the cuisine on many of the NaturesLens wildlife photography holidays is authentic & typical of the region in which you are travelling, international or western cuisine is often NOT available - if this is unclear for any event, please check the cuisine arrangements prior to making a booking.

Spanish Raptors Photography Holiday BOOKING FORM

All bookings are made subject to our terms & conditions.

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