Tag Archives: spain

Dan’s images from the Winter Birds of El Taray

A lone Marsh Harrier stares intently at the photography hides within the estate of El Taray in Spain photographed during the NaturesLens Winter Birds of Toledo photography holiday

This was my second visit to the estate of El Taray, but the first time I have visited during winter. The contrast was fantastic with temperatures exceeding 35C in summer, but now, in winter we were looking at sub-zero misty mornings. The summer migrants have gone, but the raptors have swelled in numbers & the bearded tits are making use of the food on offer – if anything, winter makes the setting even more impressive!

While the Winter Birds of Toledo photography holiday offers a vast range of raptors, I loved photographing the bearded tits. They are incredibly tame & continuously active in front of the hide giving great opportunities for a range of photos including what became known as ‘The Money Shot’ amongst the guests – an adult male strangled between two reeds. Not an easy shot because of their speed but there are lots of chances to nail it & with a few goes in the same hide most people were able to hone their focus & get the shot!
The hide is in a vast reedbed, so there are excellent opportunities for something smaller in the frame as well as natural feeding behaviour on the reed heads surrounding the hide. Other species visit too, including Spanish sparrow. bluethroat & cetti’s warbler.
The constant stream of visitors makes this an energetic hide, knowing which way to point your camera is the biggest challenge, & that’s no bad problem to have! There are so many opportunities, especially once the sun casts warm light over the scene in front.
Of course, we were all here for the eagles, myself & the guests had an incredible visit from a Bonelli’s Eagle, the bird fed in front of the hide for well over an hour. It sent everything else scattering when it arrived! Once the eagle had fed & moved on the marsh harriers returned & put on a brilliant display in gorgeous light. The flight path of the harriers became relatively predictable, so flight shots were not too tricky. We also had lovely opportunities with buzzards & a hen harrier as well as small passerines such as this water pipit, a species usually tough to find & photograph in the UK.
The setting in front of the hide is lovely and natural, representing the Spanish plains with the odd low tree stumps and picturesque branches. When the Bonelli’s eagle started moving around all the beautiful perches, we couldn’t believe our luck.
Such an impressive and powerful bird and being eye level while it fed on the ground gave a great perspective. The area is an essential place for juvenile dispersal, so there were at least six individuals visiting the estate at the time of our visit.
As the sun sets behind the marsh harrier hide, with the eagle long gone, we were blessed with a moody sky and warm light. This allowed for some striking portraits as well as evenly lit flight shots.
It was a perfect way to end the session there and fill up the few spaces left on our cards after the eagle! This final close up flight shot from the afternoon shows how close they come while swooping in to land either on the ground or one of the perches.
The estate of El Taray is wonderful at any time of year, but with the comfortable temperatures & shorter days, this trip was brilliant. Add in lovely home-cooked food, friendly staff & spacious rooms & there’s no negative. Every evening an impressive starling murmuration would form with the odd flock of cranes also moving over ready to roost. Magic!

PHOTOGRAPH THE WINTER BIRDS OF EL TARAY YOURSELF

To photograph the Winter Birds of El Taray yourself, join Dan, in Spain during January 2021, 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, that call the estate of El Taray their home during the winter months.
Our Winter Birds of El Taray 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 the end of March 2020, there is a special offer reducing the price to £1599.
All the details of the Winter Birds of Toledo photography holiday are available on the dedicated event page.

Birds of Central Spain at El Taray

One of the estates fabulous raptors flies across grassland photographed during the NaturesLens Birds of Toledo photography holiday at Hides del Taray

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.
But what really puts this trip a cut above all the rest, is the fact that we have permission to stay on the actual estate throughout the course of our trip. And what’s more, we have the services of an amazing cook to prepare delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. All of this just makes for a more relaxing trip when you are not in the hides photographing the incredible wildlife.

The hides at El Taray have all been custom-built and include ground-level, floating, water-level & sunken hides, allowing you to capture dramatic images from the best angles. Ellen’s images of the stone curlew are some of the best that I have ever seen.

With seven nights at the estate, there are plenty of opportunities to brush up on portrait and flight shots of the various raptors.

The hoopoe is always a popular bird to photograph and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Our Birds of Central Spain photography holiday will provide you with a week packed with hide sessions, where your photography will benefit from unparalleled access to locations and the best opportunity to photograph a stunning range of bird species.

Ellen said: “I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the entire experience – the birds, the photographic opportunities, staying on the Estate with all the comfort and convenience that provided, and the leadership/organization of the trip.  I thank you both and I very much hope to repeat this trip in the future (maybe 2021).  Please note that I usually do not repeat trips!”

Thanks to Ellen for sharing her images. We hope to see you again soon!

PHOTOGRAPH THE BIRDS OF CENTRAL SPAIN FOR YOURSELF

Our first summer trip to Toledo is already fully booked but we have places available on our second trip in early July 2020.

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 David. Until the end of March, there is a special offer reducing the price from £2499 to £2249 – that is a saving of £250!
All the details of the Birds of Central Spain, Toledo photography holiday are available on the dedicated event page.

21 fabulous images of the wildlife of the estate of El 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 the estate of El Taray & I was blown away by the accommodation, the setting & the wildlife.

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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 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.

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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 the estate 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 of El Taray.

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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 of El Taray 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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15 images of the diverse birdlife of Spain’s plains of Calera

A Lesser Kestrel rests on the tiles of a derelict barn photographed during one of the NaturesLens photography holidays to Spain

In this second trip report on the birdlife of Spain, I look back at our week in Calera. We arrived in Calera Y Chozas after a week of predominantly raptor photography in the Sierra Morena area.

The Spanish Birds of Calera has been running every year for the last five years. The focus of the tour is to capture images of owls, kites & other endemic Spanish birdlife. I’ve seen some incredible photographs from my colleagues when they have guided in this location previously. The area is rich in wildlife with a diverse range of species available, a wildlife photographer’s nirvana! However, would it match our high expectations after an astonishingly fruitful week in the Sierra Morena?
Day one saw one of the guests & I in the Carrion hide to photograph Griffon & Eurasian Black Vultures. I was confident we’d get some excellent access to these scavenging raptors as I had heard much about this hide. I also have to admit to being a bit excited about photographing Eurasian Black Vultures after seeing them in Adamuz.
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