Hello friends and fellow photographers. I just returned from my northern Spain tour. Below, I share just a bit of the experience with you. I hope you enjoy the story and images. As always, thank you for being a part of Whistling Wings.
Northern Spain, to say it was a great and productive trip would be an understatement. This area of Spain has so much to offer wildlife photographers. I want to say a special thanks to Edi and Pablo with Spain Adventures for all they did to make this tour great. Thanks so much! Your the best!
Below are images of just a few of the species with which we had photo opportunities. We photographed from blinds/hides, vehicles, and on foot. Many of the images are full-frame or near full-frame at 400mm. Lenses in the 100-400mm and 600mm range on full-frame bodies served us well, providing all the focal lengths needed.
We visited a small village in the Cantabrian mountains and areas in the high Pyrenees. In all we saw and photographed over 40 bird species.
It was a true adventure!
Our first stop was a small village north of Leon. Here we stayed in a small casa where we ate home cooked meals and drank local wines. Oh, and we photographed some birds too.
Our next stop was a village in the Pyrenees. This area had more snow then they have had in 30 years. Moreover, it was still snowing in the higher elevations when we were there in mid-May. This was very unusual weather and made for some real adventures in photographing the birds we were after.
One of the birds we were after was the capercaillie; the largest grouse in the world. This species is not doing well and to find them you often need to go high into the black pine forests. This year, due to the record snow, the birds moved to a hard to reach area. We had to hike up a 40 degree slope for over an hour to get to the lek where the blinds were set up. We then had to overnight in the blinds to be in position for the birds when they came down out of their tree roosting sites the next morning. The fact that it snowed another foot that night made it even more interesting. Given the conditions, we only tried for the capercaillie the one morning and only myself and one client gave it a shot. All the snow kept the birds from displaying. Instead they just flew down from their roosts and sat under the black pines where the snow was only an inch or so deep. I did have one male venture out for a bit and I was able to get one rather obscured shot of him. Mark my words, we will be back to photograph this amazing species in the future. I just hope the weather helps us out next time rather than being a total hindrance. But, hey, that is wildlife photography. You are at the mercy of the elements and the birds.
There were other birds up on the mountain; like this little goldcrest (above). An active little bird that barely ever stops moving. They are closely related to N.A. kinglets. Below, red kite, golden eagle, and a fox. I felt sorry for this vixen as it appears she has had a hard life making a living high on the mountain.
Our last stop for photography was on the other side of the Pyrenees closer to Barcelona. No snow on this side of the mountains. Here our goal was to photograph the Lammergeier. This bird is very rare and I was absolutely thrilled with the photographic opportunities we had with this amazing bird. Not only did we get to shoot the Lammergeier, but we were able to photograph all four vulture species at this one location; griffon, Egyptian, black, and Lammergeier. Not an easy thing to do. Thanks so much to Jordi for being such a great host and giving us the best chance to experience such a wildlife spectacle.
The plateau high in the mountains where Lammergeier live. Pictures just do not do this location justice.
Jordi, cleaning off the glass front of the hide (above, top). Jordi was our host at this location. He has been and continues to work toward the conservation of the Lammergeier and other large vulture species; none of which are doing well. It was great to talk to Jordi, biologist to biologist, about the plight of these birds and what is being done to save them. Keep up the good work, Jordi!
I have many more images to go through from this tour, but I hope you have enjoyed this quick glimpse at the experience that is northern Spain bird photography. It is a true adventure. If you are interested in joining me in Spain for such an experience please send me an email.