This was my second year leading a group for NaturesLens on their Spanish Bird Photography Holiday that is focussed around the fantastic hides in Calera & once again they did not disappoint.
The stars of this area in Spain are the bustards & the black-winged kite but when Europe’s more common but still wonderful & colourful birds are also on your doorstep there’s really nothing not to like – add in some paella, sunshine & a few beers & I’m happy!
This year I had the chance to photograph a few species I missed last year. Starting with the charismatic little owl! I’ll share the others in my second blog but for now just look at those eyes…
I have been on wildlife photographic trips many times with David & PN. Sometimes as personal friends & sometimes as a client of NaturesLens, whilst discussing plans for 2017, David mentioned that he felt the Calera trip to photograph some of the Birds of Spain would be exactly what I wanted as I have for some time yearned to photograph the Little Bustard displaying.
As all wildlife photographers know you can go to the right place at the right time & still fail to get your shot. – this is exactly what happened on this trip! If it was easy it would soon become boring.
So did I come away disappointed from my trip? The answer is a resounding No as there were so many other great birds to photograph & in wonderful lighting that I almost forgot why I first decided to go on this trip.
After the Raptors trip & my overnight stop in Madrid, it was time to head back to the airport to meet the group arriving from the UK for the Calera tour. Greetings exchanged, Daniel met with, we were soon on our way. Calera is about 1h 30mins to the west of Madrid in the Castilla-la-Mancha region. It would be another week of early starts & longs days in hides but I knew it would also be a week of excellent bird photography & I was looking forward to it very much.
Earlier this year, David was part of a small group who headed to capture images of the birds of the Spanish plains with Pui Hang & myself, we spent a weekend photograph the various species that are to be found in the area.
Ordinarily, we had expected some of the species to have diminished numbers as they would have started to migrate following their successful breeding earlier in the season, however the season had been wet, many of the earlier clutches had sadly failed & so large numbers of birds remained & were trying for a second clutch – this certainly applied to the hoopoes, the bee-eaters & more.
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:
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 …
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. Continue reading →
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.