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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Portugal.3 Types Of Eagle.

Golden Eagle really close!
A sub adult bird gliding on the thermals!

Golden Eagle, just beautiful to admire!

Short Toed Eagle
Booted Eagle.

Simon my guide decided it was time to head up into the mountaineous region of the Alentejo to see if we could spot any more raptors.It was after midday and the thermals would suit anything that was out hunting.He has a couple of favourite places he goes to and was confident that a few birds would be coming through.A few pair of Golden Eagles patrol these high ridges as well as Vultures and other Eagle species!Anticipation was high as we made our way past a few small villages which eventually brought us to the viewing area.Being so high up the vista before us was staggering.Away in the distance was Spain and as we looked behind us you could see as far as the Monchique mountain range!

Slowly but surely odd Griffon Vultures would drift lazily past us with a few Black Vultures for good measure,A short Toed Eagle was spotted hanging in mid air looking for snakes its main prey item, then a Booted Eagle appeared shortly after!On the whole it was preety quiet on the raptor front so we decided to move onto to another area that Simon knew.Stopping every now and then on the descent we would scan the rocky out crops,Simon was suddenly scrutinising this particular cluster of boulders when he suddenly exclaimed`quick Paul take a look at this`.Through his scope something slowly moved away, he`d chanced upon an Eagle Owl hidden amongst the rocks,what a find!He`d always knew they must be about this particular areabut had never actually seen one here before,A new site for him which he was going to monitor closely.A survey had been done previously on breeding Eagle Owls and up to 30 pairs had been recorded about the region!!Driving on a little way I caught a glimpse of a large raptor disappearing over the ridge to our right,Simon was immediately out of the car and crashing through the bushes in pursuit,he leaves nothing to chance.Golden Eagle he exclaime and its bloody close.I couldn`t set the camera up quickly enough and was on it in a flash.It hadn`t spotted us and was cruising the ridge looking for prey.It was a sub adult bird that Simon had seen before right in front of us and with the backdrop of the plains below, made for some wonderful photography.`Wow how good was that` then Simon shouted,`doesn`t get much better mate`I totally agreed.On that note, we made our way back down the bumpy track to go and have lunch at the small restaurant Simon uses and have a few cold glasses of beer,It had been a long morning out in the baking heat and we both needed time out to recharge the batteries for the late afternoon!

Friday, 17 June 2011


I`ve posted this image of a Lesser Kestrel as it isanother bird of the plains. Black Shouldered Kite country

Hovering right in front of us!

Looking straight at me!

The Alentejo region of inner Portugal is a real mecca for raptors which are always a magnet to any birdwatcherOne of the birds I hadn`t seen on my previous visit was the black shouldered kite .This bird favours the large open plains with a scattering of trees in which it breeds.When seen at close quarters it looks nothing like a Kite species at all but what a stunning bird it is.What struck me most was its small size and striking grey plummage with black tipped wings,its eyes were a distinct blood red.Simon had discovered a pair on breeding territory and we watched one of them hovering right before our eyes looking for prey.It was a magical moment for me and I can`t wait to spend more time with these birds at a later date.I managed one or two images of the birds before the light disappeared and I left the site with that wonderful glow of contentment one feels when youv`e had a really good day out

with the camera!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Portugal may 2011

Azure winged magpie common throughout.

Iberian Yellow wagtail.

Male Golden Oriole calling.

A star bird.

Unfortunately not the best light,but a pleasure to watch!

Common resident the Hoopoe.
Early May in the Algarve is a must for any birder with an interest in photography.I`m glad I made the decision to return at that time of year, as many of the birds have returned from Africa
back to their breeding grounds.All the birds are in their best plummage and the woods,valleys and meadows are full of birdsong.

The first day of my weeks stay was spent around the local area trying to photograph some of the more common species that reside.Unfortunately it was raining and opportunities were rather limited but I still enjoyed being out with the camera never the less!A good start was made when I heard Golden Oriole calling around some large Cypress trees,waiting patiently out of sight, they came within a reasonable distance to enable me to grab a few shots.There were two males chasing each other around probably fighting for territory.A few Azure winged magpies were resident and these too came quite close.

I moved down to Salgados lagoons or Pera marsh as it is more commonly known.A Hoopoe was drying itself out on top of one of the signs to the reserve,it was calling constantly trying to attract a mate,its crest being raised then lowered in unison.Iberian Yellow Wagtails were abundant, picking off the flies and insects that were buzzing about the water.The last time I was here in August the lagoon was home to a large flock of Flamingoes but they had all moved further North to breed.A few Spoonbill were sifting through the shallow waters but too distant to photograph.I was well pleased with with my first days stay despite the weather being poor, as tomorrow I knew it was to change to sunshine and high temperatures.Again I`d hired the services of `Algarve birdman` Simon Wates and the next day was to be spent in the Alentejo region of inner Portugal.I`ll tell you how I got on in `day 2 on the Algarve`.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

More of the Long Eared Owls.

Just a few more of my latest images I obtained recently of the Owls.At last I managed to get one land ouite close to me on a fence post,I made the most of the opportunity!!!T hen the owl hovered tantalisingly close!!!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Part Albino Blackbird!

Whilst taking a short break with the familly last week in the Yorkshire Dales,I came across this part albino Blackbird.Initially it flew across my path and for a while had me flumaxed as to what it was.It was nearly dark and also I didn`t have my camera with me ..Up bright and early the next day I took the same route, keeping my eyes peeled.Before long it duly appeared, singing its head off perched atop a telegraph pole and later flitting about the area in general.I achieved a few decent shots as it sat proud on the wire not at all bothered by my presence!

Going back over the years, I`ve seen a few albino crows and a Jackdaw, so this was another of those throwback to nature birds.I think the song of a Blackbird is one of the most beautiful of our songsters and is always a pleasure to listen to,especially last thing at night, as dusk falls!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Long Eared Owl

A vole has been spotted!
Graceful birds.

Low to the ground listening!

Away she goes!!!

At rest!!

For the last couple of weeks,I`ve had the good fortune to watch a couple of my local Long Eared Owls hunting the moorlands.It is at this time of year you get the chance to view these fantastic birds during the last couple of hours of daylight as they are feeding their young.

One of the Owls is a new bird previously unknown to me,it flew across the front of the car as I was heading to another LEO site a few miles away!!This bird hunts close to the roadside, so is quite easy to get close to without disturbing it.I never tire of watching these graceful birds hunt the open moorlands and many an hour has been spent in their company.Again it seems to be a very good Vole year which enables the parent birds to satisfy the young owlets insatiable appetite,there is nothing like the call of the youngsters echoing across the pine forest on the edge of darkness.

I`ll be closely following the Leos over the next month or so,as the youngsters are dependent on their parents to provide for them even though they are fully fledged and able to fly quite well.Again I hope you enjoy my pictures I managed of the adult birds!!!!