My first two trips as a photography guide for NaturesLens took me to some beautiful wildlife hotspots in rural Spain during April & May of 2019, the focus of the tours, to photograph the diverse birdlife of Spain.
In this, the first of two trip reports, I'll be looking back at our week in the Sierra Morena where Spanish raptors were our main subjects.
After arriving in Malaga & meeting our NaturesLens guests, we headed to the village of Adamuz, our base for the week. After settling in at our accommodation & enjoying lunch in the sun, we headed out to photograph Golden Eagles from a purpose-built hide with the most incredible mountain & woodland vista as an unspoilt background.
Hide photography can often be a trial of patience, but we didn't have to wait long for the star of the show to arrive. As a pair of Golden Eagles circled effortlessly above us, we enjoyed visits from Azure Winged Magpies & Jays. But Golden Eagles were to be our target subject for our first afternoon, & they didn't disappoint. It was an incredible opportunity to photograph these fantastic raptors at such proximity, & it's fair to say it set the bar very high for the week ahead!
Throughout the week, we visited different hides aimed at photographing different species. Our group had options of returning to hides as opportunities were available to photograph species again to consider different compositions or in a different light or to capture different behaviour.
One of the highlights for all of our group were the sessions with the wonderful Bonelli's Eagle. For some of us, it was the first time we had seen the species so to be able to photograph it too was very special. Like the Golden Eagle hide, position & backdrop were very well considered. Our low viewpoint also offered us fantastic opportunities to photograph bird species such as the Blue Rock Thrush & Woodchat Shrike amongst the grass & wildflowers.
A large & fast-moving shadow would give us the heads up that the Bonelli's Eagle was close. Some hide discipline was required, & we allowed several seconds to allow the Eagle to land, become comfortable & feel safe before taking photographs.
Our group also enjoyed photographing Little Owls in a beautiful olive grove, an Imperial Eagle, Common Buzzard & Common Kestrels too. Although raptors were our main subjects, we also had the opportunity to use hides in an area visited by European Bee Eaters, a stunningly beautiful & photogenic small bird. It is easy to see why it has enduring popularity with wildlife photographers! Much to the joy of our group, the odd Eurasian Hoopoe also popped up too.
At times, our weather conditions were not what we'd typically associate with springtime in Spain with periods of intermittent torrential rain & hailstorms. We can't control the weather, but I'm a great believer in changing our approach & working with the conditions we were given.
During this time, & on one of our last visits to the Golden Eagle hide, I encouraged our group to experiment with slower shutter speeds to create ‘streak' effects with the rain. A little bit of timing & luck is required to maintain sharpness on the subject, especially when working with untypical wildlife photography shutter speeds as low as 1/70. The rain gave us something different & I have to say, it looked incredible on the Eagles.
After a fabulous week of wildlife photography in superb locations, we said goodbye to Adamuz & the Sierra Morena & headed north to Calera Plains for week two – which would add even more images of the birdlife of Spain to our photographic portfolios.