When I first visited the estate of El Taray that we would use for our Spanish Birdlife of Toledo Photography Tour during the summer of 2018, I knew that this was going to be something extraordinary indeed. The estate owner, an ex-hunter, had dedicated himself, along with his collaborative partner, entirely to the project & were already a long way to establishing what looked to be one of, if not the best-equipped hide network that I had seen in Spain, if not worldwide! The attention to detail was meticulous. Camilo, having swapped his gun for a camera, wanted every shot to be perfect. In this task, the pair have primarily achieved their aim, with only nature set to thwart them once or twice!
Fast forward to July 2019
, & 7 guests of NaturesLens were to stay on the estate of El Taray
, make use of the hides & immerse themselves totally in the environment to capture images of the birdlife of Toledo
. But as you will see from this blog post & others, one of the more popular subjects were the large-eared mammal visitors to the waterholes, hence the hare at the top of this post
George, who has kindly contributed the images on this report to our blog, was a member of that first group of guests. He described the holiday as “Excellent birds, excellent accommodation & food, excellent leaders”. I was only present for the first part of the trip, (Dan Trim
was the leader for this tour), but I was there to capture images for the site & to ensure the smooth running of this inaugural trip. I need not have been since everything just worked as we hoped.
The more extensive lagoons were sadly dry, due to this area of Spain being in the grip of drought conditions. But the waterholes were pulling in many more visitors than expected, including, a healthy population of European Roller
, who came to bathe & drink. Another visitor was the Stone Curlew
who became a firm favourite with all our guests.
The Stone Curlew
was a virtually guaranteed visitor to the waterholes but not just one! Many of the guests witnessed multiple individuals visiting, providing them with opportunities to capture images of this bird approaching the location, drinking, posing & bathing.
While the waterholes provided the birds & mammals of the estate with a location to drink & bathe, they also presented our guests with opportunities for beautiful reflection images. We made use of the best light by being in the hides early in the morning & later in the evening.
A personal favourite of mine is the hide that in Winter is visited by the Bonelli’s Eagle.
However, in the summer, buzzards & harriers
make use of this area. In 2018, there was a Goshawk
present, but this year, while still on the estate, these birds visits were infrequent.
There was much excitement when it was revealed that the estate had not just one or two working hoopoe
sites, but three! And then a fourth came alive later in the week.
One of the reasons for scheduling the trip as we did in 2019 & have again in 2020, is for the activity at the Lesser Kestrel colony.
I have said previously, that this is probably the most amazing colony & hide setup that I have seen. Consisting of old farm buildings that the Lesser Kestrels
have colonised, the photographic opportunities were just fantastic. Exactly as we hoped for, the young
Lesser Kestrels were emerging from the tiles in all stages of development; some were learning to fly, others sat on the roof tiles looking indignant. But all were hungry & demanded a constant supply of food from their long-suffering parents! All of this led to action-packed photography sessions, each & every time someone spent time in one fo the hides at this location.
As seen above & in the following two images, even the less-appreciated species look fantastic in good light. The Spanish Sparrows
were frequent visitors to the hides, & over the week became favoured photographic subjects due to their constant bathing which provided great opportunities.
PHOTOGRAPH THE SPANISH WILDLIFE & BIRDLIFE OF THE ESTATE OF EL TARAY YOURSELF
To photograph the Spanish Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo yourself, join Alan, in Spain during June & July 2020 for a trip lasting seven nights. This photography holiday is ideal for photographing a wide variety of Spanish Birds, including common buzzard, common reed warbler, common sandpiper, crested lark, hoopoe, Iberian hare, lesser kestrel, little owl, harriers of varying type, spotless starling, starling, stone curlew, wild rabbit & more besides!
The photography holiday to the estate of El Taray is offered on a full board, non-shared basis. Group size for this photography holiday is a minimum of 5 participants & a maximum of 7, plus Alan. Until September 13th 2019, there is a special offer reducing the price to £2249 available
All the details of the Spanish Birdlife of Toledo photography holiday
are available on the dedicated event page