Birds of Northern Spain
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Birds of Northern Spain

Birds of Northern Spain - Part 1 I just returned from an amazing bird photography trip to northern Spain.  The purpose of this trip was to prep for my upcoming bird photography workshops I will be conducting there.  I am teaming up with a very good friend of mine who owns a company called Spain Adventures.  We have been wanting to collaborate on workshops in Spain for a long time.  It is all finally coming together. If you have never been to the northern part of Spain, or Spain period, then you owe it to yourself to go.  It is a marvelous place of mountains and valleys dotted with small villages and an occasional larger city.  The bird photography in this area is second to none in my book, with some species you will not be able to photograph anywhere else.   In the next few posts I will present some of the birds I was able to capture as well as images of the surrounding landscape and villages. In this post I will feature a few woodpecker species of the area.   Please note that some images are presented full size and others smaller, but you can always view the full-sized image by clicking on it. This is a female black woodpecker.  Black woodpeckers are birds of deep woods and one of the largest woodpeckers in the world. They are larger than the pileated woodpecker found in North America.  One of its ...

A Morning with a Kingfisher
Monday, December 01, 2014
Birds of Northern Spain

Recently, I was lucky enough to find a pond on which a male belted kingfisher had set up his winter foraging territory here in central Florida.  As those of you who have ever tried to photograph belted kingfisher know all too well, this species is very hard to get close to.  Thus, getting good detailed images of them going about their daily activities can be very difficult.To get close to this particular bird I set up a blind and on the mornings I photographed entered the blind well before the first light started to show in the east.  I did this, because on many mornings the kingfisher would show up when it was still very dark. So getting in the blind early was a must.Over the past month or so I have been able to get some really nice images of this kingfisher, which I will share in the following post.  However, I have received far more than just nice images from my time spent with this bird.  I have gained a great appreciation for this bird and how it goes about surviving each day.  I hope you will join me on the following pictorial exploration of a bit of this bird's daily life. Each morning he would arrive early to a low perch over the pond.  It seemed apparent that this perch was this bird's first stop each morning.   After arriving on the perch he would often assume a posture with wingtips held low.  It appears this ...

Making Common Species Look Good
Monday, October 13, 2014
Birds of Northern Spain

Right now here in Florida I am impatiently waiting for cooler weather to set in and stay for longer than a day.  It has been a long hot summer. Last week we had our first taste of Fall here in east-central Florida.  But, alas, the cooler temps only lasted for two days.  It is 90 degrees as I am writting this post. During this time of year it can be difficult to find good, "fresh" avian photography subjects as the dog days of summer hang on into fall.  It is at this time of year I tend to turn to bird species that are common and tend to be somewhat overlooked by many bird photographers in the area.  I think of it as a challenge to go out and make these common species look their best in my images.  Whether it is really a challenge or not does not matter, because it serves the purpose of motivating me to get out there in the field.  Believe me, it is really easy to convince yourself to stay in the nice air-conditioned office instead of heading outside to instantly start sweating.  When I am in the field I try to focus on getting these "common" birds in great light and against interesting backgrounds as this tends to bring out the best in these subjects.  Of course having these elements fall into place for any image is never a bad thing.  Or, I go after a different perspecitive of a common species, such as a very close ...

Florida's Swallow-Tailed Kites
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Birds of Northern Spain

Swallow-Tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) I don't know about you, but for me, certain birds just make me stop and watch them.  Some birds just inspire a sense of awe in me when I encounter them.  Eagles, whether Bald or Golden or some other species, always get my attention.  It makes sense, given their size and power.  However, there is another, another raptor, one that is much smaller and not at all "powerful" looking that I just can't help but want to spend time with; the swallow-tailed kite.  It is the grace and awesome flight lines that this bird exhibits while living upon the rising air currents so prevalent in Florida that makes it such a wonder to me.  This bird can really fly.    We are lucky here in Florida to have a fairly large breeding population of these awesome birds of prey.  As a bird photographer I have been drawn to try to photograph these kites ever since I saw my first individual many years ago.  Over the years I did get some images, but they were poor as they were taken during harsh light with the bird soring over head.  I believe this is how a majority of people see this bird; mid-day soring in a thermal high above. More recently however, I have been able to watch and photograph this bird under much better circumstances.  All I can say is wow. What a great bird and what a ...

North America's Smallest Duck
Monday, March 17, 2014
Birds of Northern Spain

OK, who can tell me what the smallest duck in North America is?  Let me be more specific.  The smallest dabbling duck?  Yep, you are correct if you said the Green-winged teal (Anas crecca).green-wing teal pairAlong with being the smallest duck, an argument can be made that it also is the prettiest.  Well, at least the male.  Now a lot of people will be saying to themselves at this point, 'no way the male wood duck is the best looking duck.'  OK, well let's take a closer look at the male green-wing.Now you have to admit that is one good looking duck.  Look at that chestnut and green head, the spotted breast, the flankes, the tail area.  Personally, I rank this guy right up there with the wood duck and American wigeon for looks.  Well I guess it really does not matter which duck is the best looking overall.  So many duck species are very striking in appearance.   So, what about being so small?  What does it mean for this bird?  Well, given that they often times forage by 'tipping-up' to reach food (seeds, insects, snails) located at the bottom of wetlands, they need very shallow water in which to feed efficiently.  You can see by the image above, this male green-wing is landing in what is basically mud with just a bit of water over the top.  This small bird will be able to forage in this area and ...