Our photography tour to El Taray to photograph the Birds of Central Spain was a new trip for 2019 but I can see how it may well become our flagship Spanish birding tour. There is literally something for everyone whether you like raptors, pretty little birds or wading birds.
Ellen was one of our guests on our inaugural trip and she very kindly sent in these stunning images for us to share with you.
We were originally attracted to El Taray because it is home to the largest colony of lesser kestrels that we have ever encountered. However, we soon discovered that the number of species that can be photographed here is simply phenomenal! This includes wild Goshawk that is not live-baited.
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 the estate of El Taray & I was blown away by the accommodation, the setting & the wildlife.
Graham was one of the group of guests that joined me & Dan in Spain during July 2019, to photograph the fabulous Wildlife & Birdlife of the estate of El Taray – 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.
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 Trip 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!
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 of El Taray.
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!
I mentioned in my previous blog that during this year’s trip to Calera, for the NaturesLens Spanish Bird Photography Holiday, that Spring was far more advanced than the year before. Previously the rollers hadn’t even turned up yet whereas this year they were already establishing nesting locations & ferociously chasing anything that came near, including a kestrel at one stage! They weren’t feeding young yet so the visits weren’t so frequent but there aren’t many birds in Europe as stunning as these & it was a pleasure to photograph them.
A firm favourite amongst everyone is always the carrion hide. The action is constant with varied species & even the odd guest appearance from a fox or if you’re really lucky an imperial eagle! The regulars are just as fun though & watching lots of griffon & black vultures feasting is quite a sight! This hide really fills up the memory cards!
Speaking of favourites, my favourite hide in Calera is that of the lesser kestrels. They are charming small falcons & a joy to watch at the colony as they bring back all sorts of tasty morsels. With the odd hen harrier flying by in the fields behind & the bubbling from bee-eaters overhead it’s a great hide to spend an afternoon or two in!
During this year’s trip I took a drive with our local guide to look for red-legged partridge. An introduced species in the UK but don’t be put off – the birds in Iberia have quite striking markings & make a nice subject. We stalked them in the car in the surrounding countryside & the array of photos you can take make a nice addition to the hide work here.
I’ll finish with another common european bird but also another wonderful one; the hoopoe! I can’t think of anyone that doesn’t like seeing or photographing one of these. When they raise their crest there are few European birds that look more tropical!
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.