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21 fabulous images of the wildlife of Laguna del Taray

Locked in the stare of a harrier an example of the wildlife of Laguna del Taray that may be photographed during our Spanish Wildlife Birdlife of Toledo Photography Holiday

This was my first visit to the hide network that David had spent a year raving about; this hide network facilitates photography of the wildlife of Laguna del Taray & I was blown away by the accommodation, the setting & the wildlife.

Once you come to the end of the 4km dirt track from the main road you pull through some gates & the sweeping walls of the ex-hunting estate welcome you as tens of swallow explode out of the old stable block that is now used for car storage. The inside is very traditional & combined with the excellent home cooking, wine & sangria really sets the scene for a beautiful week in rural Spain.
The estate is now turned back fully to nature with no hunting & as a consequence the wildlife of Laguna del Taray has really bounced back with several raptor species doing well & some super mammals even cropping up on trial cams!
The raptor hides provide loads of opportunities for marsh harriers & common buzzards, if you’re lucky something even more special can turn up too!
There are some great European pin-ups on offer too with several reliable roller hides & hoopoes popping up in front of just about every hide! In fact, I’d never seen so many, hoopoes were extremely common on the estate.
One of my favourite hides was, of course, the lesser kestrels. These tiny birds are incredibly entertaining as they bring prey back for their semi-fledged young lined up on the roof. The constant activity is enough to keep even the most conservative shooter firing multiple frames a second!
This year was unusually dry which meant a lot of the water hides couldn’t be used, however the water holes are kept filled to the brim & these proved to be fantastic with loads of visitors throughout all the sessions. These were the hides that left photographers a bit worn out because of the endless opportunities to capture. A week with the wildlife of Laguna del Taray can only be described as a brilliant experience & the images shown both above & below are just a small selection to give an idea of the variety!
I’ll be returning in January 2020, for the Winter Raptors & can’t wait to see the changes & variation over the seasons!

PHOTOGRAPH THE SPANISH WILDLIFE & BIRDLIFE OF TOLEDO YOURSELF

To photograph the Spanish Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo during the Winter, join Dan, in Spain during January 2020 for a trip lasting 5 nights. Over 4 ½ days of photography, you will have the use of a collection of brilliant hides to capture images of a range of birds, including the raptors of the estate, that call Laguna del Taray their home during the winter months.

This winter photography holiday 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 Dan. Until September 13th 2019, there is a special offer of £1699 available.
All the details of the Winter Raptors of Toledo photography holiday are available on the dedicated event page.
However, should you wish to visit this magnificent hide network during the summer, then you can join Alan, in Spain during June & July 2020 for a trip lasting 7 nights. This photography holiday is ideal for photographing a vast 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 summer photography holiday is also 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.

9 images showing off the beautiful birds of Lake Kerkini

One of the squacco herons landing on Lake Kerkini photographed during the Spring Birds of Kerkini photography Holiday conducted by NaturesLens

Steen has visited Lake Kerkini with NaturesLens on several occasions prior to this visit; although those visits were all during the winter. During that colder season, the birds of Lake Kerkini are composed mainly of flamingos, cormorants & of course, the characterful Dalmatian Pelicans. When we announced our new photography holiday for 2019 to focus on the Spring Birds of Lake Kerkini, Steen signed up & along with the other guests, waited for the months to pass, knowing that the spring visit would be very different to that in Winter!

One thing was for sure, the bulk of our photography would be conducted from dawn to mid-morning & then again late-afternoon to early-evening. The rest of the time, the light would be too harsh to even contemplate anything in earnest. With so many beautiful birds on offer, we headed out to the lake, to the area which contained a submerged forest. This is the area that the birds of Lake Kerkini make a home within during the Spring & build nests to bring their new generation of young up in.
The first pair of images above, show Squacco Herons. These are found throughout the wetlands, but mainly on areas of floating logs or pads in the water. This meant that we spent considerable time just playing with reflections or trying to get them in interesting poses. The contrast of their plumage to the deep greens of the foliage & blues of the lake waters meant that they really popped out! Lake Kerkini in Spring is home to many different types of Heron, including the Squacco Herons, Grey Herons & Night herons plus we observed & photographed Spoonbills & Storks, various kinds of egret & of course White & Dalmatian Pelicans. The Dalmatian Pelicans are not nearly as numerous in number as during the winter season, nor are they as impressive looking.
Whilst the outskirts of the submerged forest is the habitat of the Herons, the deeper we ventured into the ‘drowned forest’ at the north end of the lake, the more we found a cacophonic environment which is actually a spectacular breeding colony of pygmy cormorants, all the herons, at least three types of Egret, Little Bittern & Glossy Ibis. Each of our 4-hour boat trips onto the lake allowed us to get superb close-ups of these stunning birds.
As we drifted through their habitat, the majority of the birds remained unconcerned by our presence & carried on as though we were not there. Females with hatched young attended to their feeding, many paired birds continued to build nests, other solitary birds posed on branches, cormorants dived for fish & then dried their wings in the sun whilst posing on floating logs.
We were lucky enough to hear about a pair of Penduline Tits that had been building a hanging nest in an area adjacent to the lake. We visited this several times during the week, & each time the progress of the little family was measurable, with the adults firstly building nests & later in the week the male bringing the female food.
New life was to be spotted all over the lake & the surrounding areas, every day this was a constantly changing landscape of freshly hatched young clamouring for their parents’ attention & food.
Towards the latter part of our stay, we ventured out onto the lake earlier than normal, so that we were in position in the middle of the lake prior to sunrise. Each morning we were joined by several pelicans, which of course, lead to some stunning silhouette images of the birds that Lake Kerkini is most famous for against the mountains with the whole scene illuminated in rich amber & golden tones.

PHOTOGRAPH THE SPRING BIRDS OF LAKE KERKINI YOURSELF

To photograph the Spring Birds of Kerkini yourself, join Robin, in Greece during June 2020 for a trip lasting five nights. This photography holiday is ideal for photographing a wide variety of migrant & resident birds, including bittern, black stork, cattle egret, cormorant, dalmatian pelican, great crested grebe, great white egret, grey heron, night heron, squacco heron, white pelican, white stork & more!

The photography holiday is offered on a full board, non-shared basis. Group size for this photography holiday is a minimum of 3 participants & a maximum of 7, plus Robin. Until mid-September 2019, there is a special offer reducing the price to £1599 available.
All the details of the Spring Birds of Lake Kerkini photography holiday are available on the dedicated event page.

21 images of the captivating Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo

A lesser kestrel perched on a tree photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Wildlife Birdlife of Toledo Photography Holiday

Graham was one of the group of guests that joined myself & Dan in Spain during July 2019, to photograph the fabulous Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo – we had a superb group of guests join us, who were a lot of fun, totally engaged & there to make the most of the week of photographic opportunities; along with the superb organisation skills of our hosts, this made for a most enjoyable time.

Graham was lucky in that he captured a few species & behaviours that others didn’t have the chance to experience including crows mobbing the larger raptors at the the various raptor & harrier hides in El Taray …
… & the bee-eaters; sadly the bee-eater nesting had all failed earlier in the summer, the birds tried for a second nesting, but this too failed; the end result of this was that the population of the colony had begun to migrate & disperse earlier than normal. This meant that opportunities with the bee-eaters were to be cherished & made the most of – & Graham did so.
As noted elsewhere, on previous blog posts, the rollers were increasing in activity through the week, with some hides working well earlier in the week, & others becoming highly active in the latter part of the stay; this meant that many of the guests were able to experience the birds in all their glory, & for Graham to capture the quintessential image of a roller tossing an insect into the air to catch in it’s mouth!
When I left, leaving the group with Dan & Luis, the hoopoes were increasing in activity, Graham took advantage of this with a number of visits to the hoopoe photography hides, resulting in some really beautiful images as shown above.
We had timed the trip perfectly for the action on the roofs which the Lesser Kestrel colony have made their nests within, & Graham capitalised upon this, with perched & in flight shots being added to his portfolio.
One of my favourite behavioural moments with Lesser Kestrels is food retrieval, the adults bringing insects back to their young or during the incubation period, the males to the females – the activity on the rooftops was frenetic, with the young demanding food, & the adults making content forays for insects, which they gently passed to the young.
As with each of the other guests, the Stone Curlews at the ware holes were a firm favourite, the drinking shots below, I think capture the pbehaviour of this bird throughout the week perfectly.
As a wrap-up, a few images of the smaller birds & passerines of the estate put on a good show, enabling our guests to capture some great images of them, whilst on a larger scale, the raptors, both harriers & buzzards made their presence known at the hides whilst Graham was ready with him camera.

PHOTOGRAPH THE SPANISH WILDLIFE & BIRDLIFE OF TOLEDO YOURSELF

To photograph the Spanish Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo yourself, join Alan, in Spain during June & July 2020 for a trip lasting 7 nights. This photography holiday is ideal for photographing a vast 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 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.

12 images of the fabulous Brown Bears & Cubs of Finland

One of the larger adult brown bears investigates a boat on the edge of one of the lakes image captured during the NaturesLens Majestic Brown Bears Cubs of Finland Photography Holiday

Jean & Kevin were guests on our Majestic Brown Bears & Cubs of Finland trip back in July. In this blog post, we showcase Jean’s images. I love seeing the photos that our guests send us at the end of a trip, but I was especially excited to see what Jean & Kevin would send in. They are both accomplished photographers & I couldn’t wait to “look through their eyes”.

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10 images of the awesome Brown Bears & Cubs of Finland

One of the brown bears peers across at the photographer whilst at the lake edge image captured during the NaturesLens Majestic Brown Bears Cubs of Finland Photography Holiday 1

Kevin & Jean were guests on our Majestic Brown Bears & Cubs of Finland trip back in July. They shared a hide throughout the trip, so I was intrigued to see how different their shooting style would be. Here, we showcase some of Kevin’s beautiful images from the trip.

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20 images of the fabulous Spanish Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo

A European hare stands on the ground glances at the camera photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Wildlife Birdlife of Toledo Photography Holiday

Like John & George, whose images we published recently, Tim was another of the guests that joined me & Dan for the Spanish Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo Photography Holiday during July of Summer 2019 – as you will see further down, Tim has a bit more of a ‘raptor thing’ going on, with the harriers, he’s my sort of chap! He did, however, capture some images of some rather splendid other species, including the hare at the top of this blog posting!

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12 images of the fabulous Spanish Birdlife & other Wildlife of El Taray

A crouched Hoopoe photographed during the Spanish Birdlife of Toledo Photography Holiday 1

John’s images of the Spanish birdlife & wildlife shows the enormous variety of species to be seen & images to be captured.  For sure, favourite species do get photographed by the group as a whole, such as the hoopoe. But as a group, our guests found enough variety on this trip to add to their portfolio without overlapping with one & other, thanks to the widespread network of hides across the estate.

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17 images of the fantastic Wildlife & Birdlife of Toledo

One of the estate hares stands alert photographed during the NaturesLens Spanish Birdlife of Toledo photography holiday

When I first visited the estate that we would use for our Spanish Birdlife of Toledo Photography Holiday 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!

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