Raptorfest – an autumn raptor photo trip special offer

Raptorfest Special Offer

We are offering November Raptorfest photo trips with a 10% discount.

See full details here…

November Raptorfest photo trip special offer 

For example, the birds photographed in one day last year, on the 30th October:

2 Bonelli’s Eagles from the Bonelli’s Eagle hide

1 Golden Eagle, 2 Goshawks, several Buzzards and numerous Red Kites from the Raptor Hide

Little Owls from 2 different Little Owl hides

Then combine these possibilities with the well-known Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture and Black Vulture hides

Then on another day maybe add Marsh Harrier from the Raptor hide

You can have 10 species of Raptor  on a raptor photo trip in November. You also have good light that you can use for almost all of the day.

And of course all of our professional expertise that goes with our photo trips.  

The wonderful Wallcreeper

Birding in Spain: the Wallcreeper

It’s December. Imagine you’re walking along the base of a steep rock face somewhere in the Pre-Pyrenees. You detect a movement and look up. There’s a bird, and it’s close enough for you to see its long, slender down-curved bill and its slate-grey and black plumage. A moment later the bird flutters, and on its open, butterfly-like wings you see a dazzling flash of deep crimson.

Wallcreeper, Tichodroma muraria.

Wallcreeper photo by Cezary Pióro 

Rejoice! You are now among the lucky few that have set eyes on one of nature’s jewels: the Wallcreeper. An amazing bird that is at home clinging to vertical rock faces in order to probe into nooks and crannies and pry out spiders and insects with that slender bill. Little wonder then that when foreign birders visit this country this is usually the bird they most want to see, or that even the pragmatic Chinese have baptised it with the graceful name of “rock flower”.

In the breeding season the Wallcreeper inhabits sheer cliff faces in the Pyrenees at altitudes of between 2,000 and 3,000m. That means that between May and September the Wallcreeper is rarely an easy bird to see – first of all one has to reach its secluded, mountain haunts and then one has to strain the neck muscles, and often the patience too, in order to spot it among towering mountains of naked rock. That’s one reason why winter is not all bad: by then Wallcreepers have left their high mountains to occupy more accessible terrain in the pre-Pyrenees, Montsant, el Ports…even cliffs by the sea at Cap de Creus.

One day last winter I made a personal pilgrimage to the sunny rock faces of Montsec and I received my reward. I took home the Wallcreeper’s colours and a little of its wing-flashing warmth, clutching onto the vision as I descended once more into the blanket of fog enshrouding Lleida and the surrounding plains. And I hadn’t even strained my neck muscles.

Happy Wallcreeper watchers in Spain

Happy Wallcreeper watchers

There’s more about the Wallcreeper and many more birds in Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains” 

Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains

Northeast Spain bird trip report by Mikko

Northeast Spain Trip Report

Mikko Pyhälä from Finland has kindly agreed to share this trip report with Birding In Spain blog readers. Mikko came to us for a couple of day’s birding in May, and we had a very enjoyable time together.

Birding with Birding In Spain trip report May 2014

There were many highlights according to his report, but I suppose that what I will remember for the longest was the immature Golden Eagle near the roadside at Candasnos and how, inexplicably, the bird did not fly away when we approached.

That’s Mikko in the photo below, taking photos of the poppies on the drylands. Good birding and happy clients, what a magic formula. Thanks Mikko!

Mikko in a field of poppies. Birding in Spain is fun.

Summer backyard birding


Domestic birding.

Birding by the river

With the long, hot summer days and not a great deal of paid work on the near horizon a spot of evening birding has become something like an essential boredom survival technique. So round about 6pm, when the sun’s rays don’t bite into the flesh, I hop into the red Suzuki and drive to a birding spot as near as possible to Lleida.

The Red Suzuki

The trusty Red Suzuki 

A few days ago I followed the river Segre’s course out of town, and watched a couple of very young Penduline Tits, all gape and contact calls, in some bulrushes opposite the sewage treatment plant. When mother flew over the river – maybe the grass was greener on the other side – her bewildered-looking offspring were hot on her heels, despite the obvious exertion required from such a small, virtually tailless and clueless young bird.

By that time joggers and cyclists were about in some number, so waders such as Green Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers were only at ease in the widest parts of the river with little stone or mud islands.

I eventually parked and took a walk around the Basses de Rufea, a few smallish tree- and reed-fringed ponds, and one of those places you felt could always deliver a surprise or two. I particularly have my sights set on the Tamarisk scrub flanking the eastern side of the pools, there’s just got to be a rare passerine turning up there sooner or later, as long as its watched. This I left to last.

A vaguely familiar bird call came from the small poplar plantation as I passed. I had to think about it for a moment or two before I placed the clear and repeated “kek-kek” as a juvenile Golden Oriole, a call which I hear much less than the familiar onomatopoeic “o-ri-ol” or the squealing “cat call”. I stood for a minute or two, lazily scanning the canopy in a vague hope of seeing the calling bird, which never happened. Oh well, que será será.

Some small details had changed since my last visit: where the old hide had been burnt down there was now a more sensible wooden screen with viewing slits at different heights. The emergent vegetation had emerged so much though that there was little of the open water to be seen, and fewer birds, ie none. It’s never an easy job trying to “manage” nature. A new path led me around the edge of this pond for the first time, and I found myself cutting across an unmarked trail to get to another viewing point, again with a new wooden screen.

Perhaps the greatest claim to fame of Rufea is what one can see from this spot: a large, disperse and often lively colony of herons and egrets dotted all over the trees growing on islands or right at the water’s edge. Abundant Cattle Egrets, numerous Little Egrets (although I had to look closer and more carefully than normal to separate these two species because of the large number of darker-billed and dark-legged juvenile Cattle Egrets), and several Night Herons, mostly juveniles, in view. A few Grey Herons here and there, all but one standing by the reeds and studying their reflections in the water. A single Squacco Heron flew over my head from behind me and landed out of view. Not too many years ago that would have raised eyebrows and the pulses of any Segrià county listers that there may have been. Lastly was another rare gem, although not seen, but unmistakably identified by its muffled barking call, a Little Bittern.

It was quite fun to see half a dozen Cattle Egrets riding sheepback among a tightly-packed flock of maybe two hundred sheep. Some rain fell from heavy clouds, and I picked out a large poplar for shelter. Its thick, slightly hollowed trunk lay at the ideal slant and even had a kink just above head height. I was quite looking forward to putting it to the rain test, but the rain stopped all too soon. I’ll have to remember that tree and go back and test it under better conditions.

Nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos

Nightingale. Didn’t see one. 

And that was it really. I skirted around the Tamarisk bushes, getting bitten by a few insects, thinking that the dark clouds and the breeze wouldn’t give me the right combination to find my sought after rarity, and so it was. The only other birds I encountered were a couple of Reed Warblers and a scolding Cetti’s Warbler. And you ask: Was that because there were no unusual birds there at the time, or because you didn’t make any effort to find them?

That is something we’ll never know.