I travelled back to the mountains of the Sierra Morena in Spain in mid-April to lead the NaturesLens Golden Eagles & Raptors of Spain Photography Holiday for the second time.
Last year's trip had been amazing & the whole group came back with some phenomenal images, including some from the now famous red fox versus golden eagle encounter. I couldn't wait to go back & see what 2018 had to offer & I was not disappointed.
We took the first flight out of Gatwick to Malaga & then transferred to Adamuz which was our base & home for the duration of the trip. This provincial town is situated in beautiful natural surroundings & its picturesque location made it the perfect place to sit around for a beer or two after the photography sessions.
When we arrived, we dropped our bags at the hotel & headed straight out to the Golden Eagle hide. The location of the hide is about 20km from the hotel driving through some of the most scenic landscape. In case you are wondering, there is no long walk to the hide as we are dropped off right outside!
The Eagles decided that they did not want to play ball that afternoon. But that was ok, because the 50 Griffon Vultures that arrived kept us very busy! I love these scavenging raptors, so for me, this was vulture heaven!
The target species on this trip are raptors, large & small & of course, the majestic Eagles. Yes, I know Eagles are raptors too but I think that they really do deserve a special mention. At this location, we have the opportunity to photograph the Imperial, Golden & the very pretty Bonelli's Eagle.
The group unanimously agreed that they wanted to return to the Golden Eagle hide, for another session, the following afternoon. This decision turned out to be a good call. Just as the sun was slowly dipping towards the Sierra Morena landscape, a male Golden Eagle arrived. The males are smaller than the females but they are no less impressive.
Lady Luck was clearly smiling down on us. Just as the Eagle arrived, we were blessed with the most beautiful bit of evening light. I think it would be safe to say that everyone got some amazing images & came away very happy!
The Golden Eagles & Raptors tour consists of morning sessions followed by an afternoon or evening session. The timings of these sessions are designed to make the best use of the light available.
Our group got opportunities to photograph the stunning Bonelli's Eagle, the Golden Eagle, Vultures, Bee-Eaters & Little Owl to name just a few of the species available.
For me, the highlight of the trip was photographing the Bonelli's Eagle. This beautiful raptor is in decline everywhere except in Spain & Portugal where its population is considered to be stable. I was blown away by the opportunities presented to photograph this classic Mediterranean bird of prey.
I just love the excitement of photographing big raptors, especially eagles. The anticipation you feel when you see their shadow moving around on the ground as it soars above you. And then, that heart-stopping moment when it appears in front of you. Yes, I really do get excited every time I see those shadows!
While waiting for the Bonelli's Eagle, we were visited by some other beautiful birds, including the gorgeous Blue Rock Thrush & the Woodchat Shrike.
I mentioned earlier in my blog post that I love vultures. As we were waiting for the Imperial Eagles to show up, we were visited by a couple of Griffon Vultures. I was delighted to see them on the ground since this provided an excellent opportunity to get some lovely low-level portraits as they were walking around the long grass.
I am so excited about next year & cannot wait to see what the 2019 trips have to offer. If you would like to join me, I am leading both the Golden Eagles & Raptors of Spain & immediately afterwards, the Spanish Birds of Calera. Why not join me on both trips & spend two weeks in Spain photographing some of the best bird species that I have ever seen!