Some thoughts on the Puffins of Skomer


The enigmatic island of Skomer off the Pembrokeshire coastline comes alive in the summer. Recently I spent three nights on the island guiding a photographic holiday focused on the Puffins of Skomer for NaturesLens, with Richard Peters. I visit the island tens of times every year with my own business, but it’s always an exciting time to head over to this seabird paradise.

A puffin seeks out a burrow amongst the Sea Campion - photographed during the NaturesLens Skomer Puffins Photography Holiday

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Ian’s Memories of Skomer’s Puffins

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I count myself fortunate; I’ve been able to take photos from Alaska to South Georgia, India to the Masai Mara. What’s the relevance to Skomer? Well, Skomer, on our own doorstep, presents one of the more challenging environments to ‘get the shot’, the shot being that of Skomer’s Puffins.

A puffin lands at The WIck with a mouthful of sand eels - photographed during the NaturesLens Skomer's Puffins Photography Holiday

Put aside the “will I get there” conundrum – it’s only a 15 minute boat ride, but if the wind’s from the North & over 10 knots, “you ain’t going” (been there, done that), the climb once you get there (87 steps carrying everything you brought – teamwork to the rescue – you make friends quickly), & the basic living conditions (all very comfortable & clean, but ‘snug’ bedrooms, solar battery powered lighting, & the prospect of a cool shower (if you time it wrong!). The real challenge is your reason for being there – puffins. Read more

Birds of the Spanish Plains from a recent visit

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Although our main photography holiday for the birds of the Spanish plains takes place in late April or early May; for the first time this year, we additionally visited at the end of May, specifically over the bank holiday weekend. Our local guide opined that some of the species would have left & the young of others would have fledged, so there was a possibility of a lesser selection of species to photograph – this would not be a hardship, given only four photography sessions over the weekend & plenty of species remaining, we would still have plenty to photograph.

As it turned out, this was not the case, we had virtually the same species as those who had visited 6 weeks previous; due to rains earlier in the season, the bee-eaters were still courting, nest-building & mating, the black-shouldered kites had not departed for their migration south & many other species were still displaying a full set of behaviours.

Jason was amongst those who accompanied us on this trip to our location, which is about 90 minutes from Madrid, he has kindly sent in a selection of the images that he captured whilst on the Spanish plains, he had sessions with shrike, bee-eater, hoopoe & time in the carrion hide, which sees visits from black & red kites, storks, many vultures, ravens & more.

We have one place remaining available for the 2017 weekend, which will be held between the dates of May 27th – 29th 2017, if you’d like to attend & capture images of the birds of the Spanish plains for yourself, send us a message using our contact form.

Jason has kindly sent us a selection of his images that we are happy to publish below:

A male bee-eater delicately passes a freshly caught insect to a female of the species - photographed on a NaturesLens Photography Holiday to Spain to photograph the birds of the Spanish plains Read more

More participant photos of the Birds of the Spanish Plains

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We are pleased to post up another selection of photos of the Birds of the Spanish Plains, taken on the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday, these were taken & contributed by David Jones, who visited Calera with me in 2015, but was so taken with the area & the variety of species on offer that he decided to revisit in 2016, with Dan leading the trip on this occasion.

You can view some of the images captured by Andrew, one of the participants, on another blog post located here & some of those from Dan, who led the trip for us in 2016 & will do so again in 2017 & 2018, here! But for now, here are some great images from David

A Bee-eater captured tossing a bee before swallowing it - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday Read more

Some thoughts on the Birds of the Spanish Plains


The rare & elusive Black Winged Kite - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday in Spain

Spain’s central plains, about 90 minutes from Madrid, retain their rustic charm & beauty with dilapidate terracotta roofed buildings, rusty farm machinery & very few built up areas. Subsistence farming mixed with large areas of cork oak, olive groves & wilderness create a wide range of unspoilt habitats for the birds of the Spanish plains. This all has the wonderful backdrop of the Sierra de Gredos, a stunning mountain range home to Iberian Ibex, Imperial Eagle, Black Vultures & much more! What really struck me though was the abundance of invertebrates & small birds. A clear indication of how productive the area is. Read more

The first client images from the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

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We’ve been sent some great images from clients in the last week, we will start with a few images of the Birds of Spain, from one of the participants that attended the Birds of Calera Photography Holiday at the end of April, Andrew Oldacre, who had this to say about the trip …

“The hides, their location & backgrounds, all worked well & the opportunities to take some stunning images were many & regular … Overall I can heartly recommend this trip!”

More on these particular birds in an upcoming post from Dan, but the lake hide & the black-winged stilt that was in attendance appears to have been a hit with quite a few of the participants.

A Black Winged Stilt photographed from a lake-side hide - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday
A Black Winged Stilt walks along the shoreline photographed from a lake-side hide - photographed on the NaturesLens Birds of Calera Photography Holiday

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The last of the Dalmatian Pelican client images

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A solitary Dalmatian Pelican floats serenely on the milky lake - photographed by Richard Coles during the 2016 NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holiday

This is, I think, the last series of Dalmatian Pelican images captured by clients on the January 2016 Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holidays, Richard Coles attended the second trip, that was lead by Richard Peters. It appears that Richard & the guests were blessed with mirror-like stillness on the lake for at least one of the mornings – resulting in some great captures as shown below, but first, above you can see one of Richard Coles’ images in the style that I personally like best, the ‘ethereal shot’, executed beautifully with the viewer’s eye being drawn to that flash of orange & the eye of the bird peeking out from it’s ‘crazy hairdo’. Read more