And now, the end is near …

October 27th, 2017
Some birders from 2017

Some birders from 2017

… and so I face the final … question, “How was it for you Frank, ol’ chum?”

Bloomin’ marvellous, and no doubt about it!

We’ve had a great year and have taken over one hundred and thirty individuals around southern Portugal during the last eight months to enjoy its wildlife – some of those you can see in the collage above. I’ve normally been too busy capturing the birds to take photos of the people so I apologize if you came out with us and you’re missing above.

So what’s this about the final curtain, eh?

Sadly, “Birding in Portugal” closes at the end of this week until next Spring, (apart from groups of course).

Some of you know that we also run “Paradise in Portugal” and, unlike the birding side of our lives, this has physical attributes that need maintaining, and for that we have to close for a couple of months each year when we don’t have groups staying.

However, as a souvenir to offset any disappointment, here’re some of the photos we took during the last few months that never made it onto these pages  …

Common Quail
Common Quail

… starting with a Common Quail. I hasten to add that these shots are neither in chronological, alphabetical or taxonomic order, they’re just as I found them scanning quickly through my computer.

OK, so it’s common enough to hear Quail every other day, but to see them? That’s another story;  it’s usually just a flash of brown-ness, wings beating furiously as it barrels across a field away from one before diving for cover just about the same time one’s picked up one’s camera, so to get a shot of one in the open and standing still was a red letter day and I was pleased as punch to have grabbed this shot in the three seconds this bird stayed put.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

I love playing around with reflections, and this Turnstone was a great model …

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

… as was this Common Kingfisher on the same day that allowed me to practice with colour and composition.

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatchers are one of my favourites in the few weeks they’re here as they’re such good posers too …

Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck

… unlike Eurasian Wrynecks that are usually gone before one can even find them so I was doubly pleased to grab this shot,

Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck

just before it flashed past my head and away. Thank you once again Ms McKinnon; your eyes are “something else”, and “a bit whizzy”!

Another sunrise ...

Another sunrise …

I have seen my fair share of these this year, but I’m glad to say we never missed being at the right place for the sunrise, and this I put down to all our guests. Thank you everyone – it’s thanks to you that we’ve seen all we’ve seen.

Common Waxbill

Common Waxbill

I’ve noticed a general increase in Common Waxbills this year; maybe climate change is suiting them? It’s been an Indian Summer and no mistake – we’re now at the end of October and have had one evening of showers since the beginning of May. Everything is very dry and there have been horrendous fires in the north of Portugal, though luckily none too bad down our way. I’ve seen some awful statistics, over one hundred dead and 5% of Portugal’s forest burnt to a crisp, over a million acres … most of it eucalyptus and pine, and one wonders whether there will be a sustained movement against eucalyptus now, (something I have been advocating for years), or whether it will just be swept under the carpet by the politicians and their paymasters in the paper industry. Unfortunately I fear the latter.

Ocelated Lizard

Ocelated Lizard

Birds of course can fly from a forest fire and can survive afterwards by moving to where there is food, but the devastation to other wildlife is immense and lizards especially  will have been very hard hit, species like the Ocelated Lizard above and the Large Psammodromous, below,

Large Psamodromous Lizards mating

Large Psammodromous Lizards mating

or the beautiful, (though slightly scary from this angle!), Saddle-backed Bush-Cricket.

Head on to a Saddleback Bush Cricket

Head on to a Saddle-backed Bush-Cricket

Very sad.

Greater Flamingos

Greater Flamingos

OK, let’s not get too morbid … and how better to lighten the spirits than a fly-by of Greater Flamingos?

Purple Heron

Purple Heron

Or this beautiful Purple Heron? I saw many when Daniela and I visited Sri Lanka in February, but it’s always nice to see them here, and this one feeding in a rice paddy was just too perfect not to include in this little slide show.

Little Tern

Little Tern

Action shots are always hard to come by as a Guide – our guests come first so one can’t wait for hours hoping something’ll happen – but occasionally we’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I watched this Little Tern catch a fish half as long as himself,

Little Tern

Little Tern

deftly turn it around in mid air and catch it again head first,

Little Tern

Little Tern

so it slipped rather inelegantly down its gullet.

Juvenile Water Rail

Juvenile Water Rail

Another rare site, or at least one I certainly had never seen until this year, was a juvenile fledged Water Rail. This proved once again the benefits of our Water Rail and Kingfisher Hide down in the village.

Eurasian Jay

Eurasian Jay

Another rarity was to capture this Eurasian Jay at such close quarters. I was sat quietly on a fallen log under some Scrim net when this chap landed along the same branch as me … the trick was to move the camera up and my head down slowly enough to not spook him and fast enough to get the shot …. how many times have I failed at that little manoeuver?!!!

Sardinian Warbler

Sardinian Warbler

I’ve loads of Sardinian Warbler shots of course, but this one stood out from the crowd,

The Three Musketeers with D'Artagnan

D’Artagnan with Athos, Porthos and Aramis

and these three also caught my eye – Daniela likes it as well, and I’ve learnt by now that I should listen to her advice!

Little Owls waking up

Little Owls waking up

Another species I have far too many shots of is Little Owls, but it’s seldom one catches two adults in the same frame, especially so when one of them is so bored with your presence that he takes the time to let you know …

Hoopoe with Mole cricket

Hoopoe with Mole cricket

… and Hoopoes with their preferred food source, Mole Crickets? Seen them dismember the latter a few times now, but I’ve always been too slow to get a shot of the action before the opportunity’s been lost …

Lesser Kestrel with locust

Lesser Kestrel with locust

… and the same goes for Lesser Kestrels bringing food to the nest, especially so now that there are strict injunctions against any legal Guide taking guests near any known breeding colonies.

Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear

This shot I liked for the composition and the flowers just as much as for the Blçack-eared Wheatear,

Water Rail

Water Rail

and this final shot I included because, well, why not? It’s difficult to get down to eye level with a Water Rail out in the open, and as I particularly like the species I was doubly pleased to grab this shot.

That’s it for now, I must get going with the paint brush, cement mixer and trowel … see you next Spring if not before. Ciao.

Last chance

September 16th, 2017
Great Bustard

Great Bustard

Well, we’ve drawn the raffle again and some lucky winners had the good fortune to claim their prizes and have already reserved their room for next year, so we’ll look forward to seeing you Chris and Vic!

We’ll look forward to hearing from you – and to showing you Bustards and Bee-eaters amongst other species!

European Bee-eaters

European Bee-eaters

Birdfair Raffle

September 13th, 2017

Sunrise on the Alentejo Plains

So the first winners of the Birdfair Raffle never claimed their prize. so we’re drawing it again this Saturday, the 16th September – and I look forward to someone winning!

Juvenile Black Stork
Juvenile Black Stork

The first prize is a week’s accommodation for 2 people at “Paradise in Portugal” in either a double or a twin bedded room anytime next year between 15th March and 15th July or 15th September and 31st October.

There are two runners~up prizes of three free mid-week nights or 2 people at the same location in either a double or a twin bedded room during the same windows as above.

We’ll publish the winners names here on the 16th and you’ll have a week to claim your prize by simply emailing the Quinta through their website with the same address you gave us at the Birdfair.

Nothing simpler, so “Good luck” and we look forward to hearing from you.

Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed Eagle

Why the pictures? Well, why not include a few of snaps from the last week, eh?

A good year? No, a VERY good year!

September 6th, 2017
This year's Birdfair Stand team, Sula, Fiona, Tony, Calum, Frank & Araby

It’s been a hectic past few months for our Birding team – and the Quinta in general! We’ve ever been so busy but the most exciting part was the number of returning guests – Sheila’s like a rubber ball and we’ve hosted her on thirteen occasions now, but Calum’s steaming up fast along with several others.  It’s seldom that we haven’t had returning guests, and those guests – who quickly become friends – are the best part about running this place! It’s positive feedback that we’re doing it right, so many thanks go to all you who’ve come birding with us this season – and we look forward to showing you around again  in the future!

Marie Therese King’s “Batik’n'Birding” week is running again in a few week’s time, and there’s still one or two rooms left so get in touch with her soon if that rings your bell -  with the weather we have at the moment it’ll be fantastic!.

Batik'n'Birding group 2016
Batik’n'Birding group 2016

This Spring was especially busy, and in June we closed the Quinta for five days to give Daniela and I a break. Daniela shot off to Vienna to see her parents and Elias while I of course went birding! Des took me up to the Farne islands where we had a wonderful time, (there’s a little taste below but you can see some of the other pictures we took here), and I had a smile from ear to ear for weeks! Heartily recommended!

Puffin-1767

The Puffins were like bullets out of a gun, whipping past our heads and all seeming to have a good beakful of sand eels which the gulls were constantly trying to steal,

Puffin-2560

and, yes, they were comical too …

Puffin-1813

Then it was the summer and it was busy, busy, busy (with the Birdfair in August as well, where we once again donated over £500 towards their conservation efforts worldwide), and now … well, the Autumn migration’s begun and we’re straight into it as it seems to be an early kick-off this year.

European Bee-eaters doing what it says on the tin!
                         European Bee-eaters doing what it says on the tin!

Our Bee-eaters are normally very punctual as to when they arrive and leave, but this year they were gone 5 days earlier than normal and our first Northern Wheatears were coming through before the end of August, which is again early. Archie’s running a chateau in the south of France this summer and when I spoke to him earlier today he said he’d noticed it too; large amounts of Wheatears, Flycatchers and raptors heading south across the Pyrenees.

We drew the raffle last week but nobody’s claimed their prize – it’s surprising how often it happens, so we’re going to send out an email to everyone who entered as a reminder and draw it again on the 16th September. That’s what happened last year and we’re looking forward to welcoming Kenny & Chris, last year’s second week’s lucky winners, who are coming over next month.

Kenny & Chris

Kenny & Chris

Last year’s winners – on the second draw!

Sleepy-head

May 24th, 2017
Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron

It’s been a “Full-on” couple of weeks and I really need to get some sleep tonight as I’m out early again tomorrow, but before I go – here’re some of the shots since I last posted here … above a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron that took us by surprise at Sto André recently, and below a Common Redstart that the books show as not breeding hereabouts – but they certainly do, as I hope to record in the CAC, (Census Aves communs – Breeding Bird Census), later on this week.

Common Redstart

Common Redstart

A nice touch a few days ago was to get a half decent shot of a Common Whitethroat and a Spectacled Warbler on the same day.

Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

The Whitethroat likes it chillier than we normally have it around here – it was 35º today – so keeps to the high hills near Monchique, but the Spectacled Warbler likes low coastal scrub and we find it near Sagres.

Spectacled Warbler

Spectacled Warbler

I always like getting them both on the same day so one can spot the differences for future identification – always easier to remember if one does it in the field than if one tries to do it from the field guide.

Common Buzzard with snake

Common Buzzard with snake

One day on the Plains produced this Common Buzzard with its breakfast. Poor shot due to it being up-sun of us and no snake id unfortunately either.

European Water Vole

European Water Vole

Easier on the id front was this European – or Southern – Water Vole. A good deal larger than those found further north in Europe, this is the size of a small rabbit rather than being the size of a mouse.

Kentish Plovers

Kentish Plovers

Kentish Plovers are always sought after and usually easy enough to come across at Ludo, near the airport, unlike Cetti’s Warblers which call from thick cover, so we were grateful to the one below preening itself out in the open.

Cetti's Warbler

Cetti’s Warbler

Easier to see anywhere in southern Portugal, and especially near the Quinta, is the Iberian Magpie.

Iberian Magpie

Iberian Magpie

On a “blue” note, this Blue Rock Thrush showed well a few days ago near the lighthouse at Sagres.

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

Unfortunately we arrived fairly late in the day, around 10.00, and the hordes of tourists there soon made us want to leave, but, hey, we enjoyed him while we were there and the close views of this Black Kite shortly afterwards soon took our minds off him!

Black Kite

Black Kite

Closer to home, I spent an hour under some “scrim net” near Santa Clara a few days ago and loved seeing these Grey Wagtails up close feeding their fledged chicks on the lilly pads.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

It wasn’t the only thing there either.

Yes, I know Collared Doves aren’t exactly special – after all, they’re the most successful species since records began – but I loved the way the ripples reflected onto the breast of this one that came down for a drink on the other side of the river.

Collared Dove

Collared Dove

They weren’t the only ones wandering around either, as this Water Rail treated me to five minutes well out in the open.

Water Rail

Water Rail

Then, to top it all off, two Turtle Doves landed by my feet. I only got one shot off before they skedaddled once the shutter went, and sadly I had to shoot through some leaves and there was no chance of getting a catch-light, but hey, not bad for a full-frame shot.

Turtle Dove

Turtle Dove

Back at home the same day, we found this Rock Bunting feeding a chick just outside our bedroom door.

Rock Bunting

Rock Bunting

The next day we were out at Sto André again and had a fun half an hour with some very confiding Reed Warblers. Spell-binding when they’re this close and seemingly un-fazed by one’s presence …

European Reed Warbler

European Reed Warbler

On the way home again we also found a small kettle of 6 Vultures, 4 Griffons and 2 Eurasian Blacks; the latter seem to be becoming more numerous here over the last few years.

Eurasian Black Vulture

Eurasian Black Vultures

As a Nature Photography lesson, we decided to go for the Rufous Bush Robin, and spent a delightful couple of hours watching them only a few meters away. I must remember to take some cushions next time though – those rocks are hard on one’s posterior after a little while!

Rufous Bush Robin

Rufous Bush Robin

We’d been protected from the high wind on the day in question as we’d been down in a steep-sided gulley for the Bush Robin, but once we came out it was literally blowing a gale so opportunities were few for anything else – except of course the ubiquitous Little Owls that we practiced on for composition and “slow-shutter/blurred grass” shots.

Little Owl

Little Owl

What else? One last one from today, an old favourite and one that’s easy enough down near the airport when I have to drop or pick-up, a Little Bittern, but it’s not so easy getting a sharp shot of one in flight, so I was pleased with this.

Little Bittern

Little Bittern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last week …

May 9th, 2017
Black-winged Stilt and reflection

Black-winged Stilt and reflection

I suppose the photo above of a Black-winged Stilt was one of my favourite shots from this last week, which has again been busy on the birding front.

I always try to get to this particular lake before any hint of wind ruffles the surface, and, bearing in mind it’s over an hour’s drive away, I normally fail, but yesterday we hit the nail on the head and were rewarded with opportunities like that above – and the one below of one of my favourite species, Collared Pratincoles.

Collared Pratincole and reflection

Collared Pratincole and reflection

I had to get down fairly low to capture this image, but the proof of the pudding was being rewarded like this.

Spanish Imperial Eagle

Spanish Imperial Eagle

In the same area we also had good views of a mature Spanish Imperial Eagle; a distant view to be sure, but a nice one nevertheless.

Little Owl through the grass

Little Owl through the grass

Little Owls continued to thrill us, and the shot above I thought looked better black and white than with the normal blue sky and yellow grass.

One has to look hard for them sometimes, so well camouflaged are they, but they’re easy enough out on the Plains where their preferred sites are piles of rocks. They’re much harder to find in woodland, so I was gratified to find the one below concentrating hard on his next meal earlier on this morning in Corte Brique.

Little Owl in wood

Little Owl in wood

Another woodland find was this male Chaffinch, which posed nicely long enough to grab this quick shot.

Common Chaffinch

Common Chaffinch

It’s easy to forget just how colourful they are – not the case at all with European Bee-eaters, which also gave us a show again this morning down in Bee-eater valley.

They’re feeding up well and there must be over 50 pairs down there this year.

European bee-eater tossing bee

European bee-eater tossing bee

Another colourful species captured this morning from an hour’s visit to the Water Rail hide in Santa Clara was this female Kingfisher.

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

What else? Let me see … how about the Black-eared Wheatear below?

We spent and hour or so trying to find them three days ago with very little success, much to our disappointment – but yesterday was a different story. Females of course are sitting on eggs now, but males were everywhere.

Black-eared Wheatear with poppies

Black-eared Wheatear with poppies

Another species that I’ve been eager to find again this year is probably our last migration arrival, Rufous Bush Robins, and yesterday we broke our duck for the year with the individual below.

He sang well from the top of several prominent perches, but I particularly liked this shot of him in flight.

Rufous Bush Robin in flight

Rufous Bush Robin in flight

Much easier to find of course are Black Redstarts, as most cliffsides hold considerable numbers, but the opportunity to grab a shot like the one below is a bonus.

Black Redstart

Black Redstart

The easiest species of all are the White Storks that cover southern Portugal with their nests, and it seems that good sites are becoming hard to find, if the battle that the two below waged tells us anything.

It was a stack out at sea, (the possession of which was also being disputed aggressively by a Yellow-legged Gull), but these two Storks literally sent the feathers flying …

White Storks disputing nesting site

White Storks disputing nesting site

 

 

 

 

 

An overcast week

May 1st, 2017
European Bee-eaters passing food prior to mating

European Bee-eaters passing food prior to mating

The weather wasn’t kind to us last week unfortunately, just windy and overcast – we didn’t even get the rain that was forecast – so good shots were hard to get, although some of the photographers who stayed here managed much better ones than I did. Notwithstanding my dearth of creditable shots, I promised to post some of the ones I did capture, so here goes.

Above are a pair of Bee-eaters, the male on the left passing a nuptial offering of a Small Skipper to its mate, (pity about the leaves), and below a Little Bittern with a fish fry – species unknown!

Little Bittern with prey

Little Bittern with prey

We managed to pin down several nesting sites, one of the most interesting being a a dead poplar with this Lesser Spotted woodpecker nesting a meter above an Iberian Green Woodpecker and one meter below some Spotless Starlings.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at nest

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at nest

In the same valley near the Quinta we found probably the same Nightingale occupying the same patch of scrub as last year; at least it was displaying the same unusual behaviour as one that was there last year anyway, singing right out in the open from the top of a telephone post.

Nightingales seldom sing in the open!

Nightingales seldom sing in the open!

Down on the coast we bumped into some Red-billed Chough,

Red-billed Chough

Red-billed Chough

and also a confiding Tawny Pipit,

Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit

along with an equally confiding Sardinian Warbler. They really can be the most annoying species sometimes, hiding away while anyone wants to photograph them and singing loudly out in the open as soon as their back is turned.

Sardinian Warbler

Sardinian Warbler

Another species that’s normally difficult to capture is the ubiquitous Iberian Magpie with its beautiful blue wings and tail, but there are places where this bird has lost nearly all its fear of man and one can capture close shots from time to time.

Iberian Magpie

Iberian Magpie

This was certainly the case with the one above, and the same goes for the Booted Eagle that gave our group a close inspection,

Booted Eagle

Booted Eagle

allowing us to clearly see its diagnostic white “headlights”.

Finally a Yellow Wagtail that posed well for me against a backdrop of a brackish lagoon.

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

 

The Calum Cup

April 23rd, 2017

We’ve had a wicked few days recently and captured some great images of difficult to see or find species … high winds and several days of low cloud haven’t helped, but I’ve got to be on the top of my form because it’s the week of “The Calum Cup” at the Quinta and the pressure’s on with some great photographers taking part this year, Calum Dickinson of course, but there’s also Sula Riedlinger, Stu Allen, Tony Cox and a new, late entrant, Steve Bartlett … I was out getting ready for the Cup a few days ago and caught this Greater Short-toed Lark.

Greater Short-toed Lark

Greater Short-toed Lark

One of my favourite LBJs – I wonder why I’ve always been a fan of a little ginger on top – they’re nearly impossible to find on their preferred nesting habitat, broken, stony ground so I was pleased with this shot. Lovely bird, but not a good enough shot for the Cup … but what about this one of a Squacco Heron from yesterday?

Squacco Heron battling the wind

Squacco Heron battling the wind

Or this one of some squabbling Black-winged Stilts?

Black-winged Stilts

Squabbling Black-winged Stilts

Or this one of a pair of Black-eared Wheatears?

Black-eared Wheatears

Black-eared Wheatears

Or this one of a Great Spotted Cuckoo from a few days ago?

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Ha! Not a chance unfortunately, as they’re all disqualified as being taken before any of the other participants arrived.

Bah, humbug …

I suppose I’ll just have to enter these two for today … we popped down to the hide in Santa Clara for half an hour before lunch and, with some diligent searching found this skulking Water Rail doing what it does best, hiding silently well hidden in the reeds …

A skulking Water Rail

A skulking Water Rail

… but then I was lucky enough to capture it in flight, something I’m particularly proud of as it’s nearly impossible to do – yes, you’re right, I am patting myself on the back – pretty damn hard too!

Water Rail in flight

Water Rail in flight

So the race is on chaps, and may the best shot win!

 

Some photos from the last week …

April 20th, 2017

I’ve been asked several times to post a selection of photos from the last week, so here goes and I hope you like them!

Zitting Cisticolas are everywhere - but seldom this close.

Zitting Cisticolas are everywhere – but seldom this close.

A female Woodchat Shrike.

A female Woodchat Shrike.

Bee-eaters continued to offer heaven-sent opportunities throughout the week.

Bee-eaters continued to offer heaven-sent opportunities throughout the week.

An uncommon Yellow Wagtail - is it a thunbergi or a feldegg?

An uncommon Yellow Wagtail – is it a thunbergi or a feldegg?

Whinchats were more forthcoming than usual.

Whinchats were more forthcoming than usual.

A displaying male Little Bustard about to be surprised by his rival.

A displaying male Little Bustard about to be surprised by his rival.

My first Spectacled Warbler of the year. At last I've broken the duck!

My first Spectacled Warbler of the year. At last I’ve broken the duck!

Blue Rock Thrushes were abundant.

Blue Rock Thrushes were abundant.

A posing Rock Bunting.

A posing Rock Bunting.

This Water Rail could not have been less shy or more accommodating for the photographers in the group.

This Water Rail could not have been less shy or more accommodating for the photographers in the group.

A female Little Tern with a recently offered nuptial gift.

A female Little Tern with a recently offered nuptial gift.

A request for a down-sun Sardinian Warbler in the open came up trumps.

A request for a down-sun Sardinian Warbler in the open came up trumps.

Wrynecks are much smaller than their reputation or voice leads one to believe.

Wrynecks are much smaller than their reputation or voice leads one to believe.

Normally a shy bird, this Iberian Magpie couldn't have posed better.

Normally a shy bird, this Iberian Magpie couldn’t have posed better.

A pair of Red-crested Pochards at dawn.

A pair of Red-crested Pochards at dawn.

Black-headed Weavers seldom "frame" themselves so conveniently.

Black-headed Weavers seldom “frame” themselves so conveniently.

Flight shots of Little Bitterns require an absence of anyone within lens-length!

Flight shots of Little Bitterns require an absence of anyone within lens-length!

Short-toed Treecreepers are normally horribly back-lit, so I was pleased to get this one - with nice detail of the cork too.

Short-toed Treecreepers are normally horribly back-lit, so I was pleased to get this one – with nice detail of the cork too.

Marsh Harriers were seen on three different occasions.

Marsh Harriers were seen on three different occasions.

A nice Tree Sparrow - a difficult species to find this far south.

A nice Tree Sparrow – a difficult species to find this far south.

A total of five Short-toed Eagles were seen during the week.

A total of five Short-toed Eagles were seen during the week.

Montagu's Harriers were displaying well.

Montagu’s Harriers were displaying well.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse are always a difficult species, but we were lucky again this week.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse are always a difficult species, but we were lucky again this week.

A nice flock of ten Gull-billed Terns was found at an inland lake.

A nice flock of ten Gull-billed Terns was found at an inland lake.

Another Little Owl ...

Another Little Owl …

Lucky with this one - a displaying Little Bustard with a fly-by of a Calandra Lark showing their diagnostic white trailing edge well.

Lucky with this one – a displaying Little Bustard with a fly-by of a Calandra Lark showing their diagnostic white trailing edge well.

Great Spotted Cuckoos were seen several times.

Great Spotted Cuckoos were seen several times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Displaying Booted Eagles. I could have watched them all day ...

Displaying Booted Eagles. I could have watched them all day …

A Nightingale singing in the open.

A Nightingale singing in the open.

Lucky with this one - a displaying Little Bustard with a fly-by of a Calandra Lark showing their diagnostic white trailing edge well.

Lucky with this one – a displaying Little Bustard with a fly-by of a Calandra Lark showing their diagnostic white trailing edge well.

 

Great Spotted Cuckoos were seen several times.

Great Spotted Cuckoos were seen several times.

Just a quicky

April 10th, 2017
Bee-eaters

Bee-eaters

OK, so they’re back, I get it, boring, run-of-the-mill, but it never stops me wanting to get “just one more shot”, and luckily I have them just beside the station, which always gives me an excuse to set off that little bit earlier than I should, “in case the train’s early, my love” – as if that was ever the case around here! – and just occasionally I get the chance of capturing a picture like that above …

This birding photography lark never seems to grow stale. I take about 400 shots a day I s’pose, (as I always give the guests I take out souvenirs of their day), and for the most part I take shots of the same species most of the time – sometimes of course of the same bird even – but as I say, it just never becomes “a job”, and the reason is that every now and again one just grabs the “essence”, which was the case with this Red-rumped Swallow below.

Red-rumped Swallow

Red-rumped Swallow

Added to which of course is the fact that it’s just incredibly beautiful.

Other times it’s because the species is normally so difficult to find or see well, like this Little Bittern,

Little Bittern

Little Bittern

or simply that it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime” shot, as was the case a few days ago when a dozen Black-crowned Night Herons flew in broad daylight right over my head. These are difficult enough to find singly at dawn or in the gloaming, but to have these in numbers during broad daylight – well, in over 25 years of guiding it’s the first time ever.

Black-crowned Night Herons

Black-crowned Night Herons

Finally, it always gives me a thrill to find the well camouflaged ones; I suppose it’s a “Gotchya” moment, only you don’t kill the poor li’l mite, you leave it for someone else to get some enjoyment out of also, and, at the risk of sounding “political” – never a good idea when writing a blog I’ve been told – this is where I disagree with the “Shootin’ ‘n’ fishin’ lobby”; no matter how well they may dress their actions up with the “If it wasn’t for us there’d be no countryside preservation” garbage, I’m sure there’d be a whole lot more of everything if, well, if they didn’t kill hundreds of Mountain Hares so they could kill even more deer, or if they didn’t shoot Hen Harriers so they could kill ever larger quantities of grouse, or if they didn’t release 37 million pheasants into the UK’s countryside every year for instance.  Woops, I think I just got a little political, didn’t I just. Naughty, naughty …

Anyway, Little Owls are one of my favourites in the camouflage stakes. They’re easy enough sometimes, even if they’re trying hard to be just another rock, like in this picture,

Just a one-eyed rock

Just a one-eyed rock

but sometimes they can take one’s breath away, so in that vein, how many Little Owls can you see below? I’ll post a larger version on my facebook birding page, www.facebook.com/birdinginportugal

Answers on a postcard please ...

Answers on a postcard please …