Growing up with a Birding Dad

 

Growing up with a Birding Dad 

by Alex West*

growing-up2

Bringing a child to this world and educating him doesn’t seem like an easy task. Having a birding enthusiast as a father isn’t either, especially when you are a kid, not very interested in birds, and who just wants to play football and mess around. Sometimes you won’t see your dad for weeks because he is leading a birding trip to Scotland, and sometimes he won’t move from his desk at home because he is contacting customers around the globe.

I remember when I was scared of grasshoppers, the idea of them jumping and getting stuck on my face terrified me. One day, on an excursion with my dad and my brother to the grasslands of Lleida, a giant grasshopper sneaked through the window of the car and landed on my side. I instantly started panicking and screaming, and jumped to the other side of the car next to my brother, fearful of what that devil’s creature would do to me. My father slammed on the breaks, unaware of what was happening, while my brother and I were hugging, squeezed into one corner of the car. He came out and grabbed the grasshopper with one hand, and showing it to me told me – See? It doesn’t do anything. I know you don’t like them but look at its wings when they fly. Moments after the grasshopper jumped and I saw a beautiful blue colour with black dots going away. How could such an ugly insect have those amazing colours on it? Since then I lost all my fear of grasshoppers and I started noticing all the different tonalities of their wings that I missed before just because I didn’t like them. That day my father taught me a lesson, everything has its beauty, it may be hidden or you may not see it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

grasshopper

Grasshopper! Image by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

I started listening more to my father, I became more interested in birds and I realized he knew facts that no one else did, I learned why Lammergeiers bathe in pigments and how they get their food, by dropping bones onto the rocks from hundreds of feet. I fell in love with the colourful Bee-eater and I was amazed by the sound the plumage of vultures makes when they pass metres away from you.

And then I realized how cool it was to have a birding father, he would take me to secret places with breathtaking views, he would teach me about ecosystems and the balance of nature, drive me out of the city and its monotony to breathe fresh air. Thanks to him I even stood face to face with a fox and shared laughter about the strange noises they make. He showed me to love nature, and that was his way of loving me.

Having a birding father is not easy but I could not wish for anything else.

Growing up with a birding dad

 

* This is Alex’s first post on the Birding In Spain blog and we think he’s done a great job. I’m sure he’d welcome any appreciative comment!

Can Jan – the House!

Can Jan – the House!

Can Jan - the House!

http://canjan.co.uk/

We at Birding In Spain are delighted to announce that Can Jan now features as the main focus of attention for our recommended accommodation links. Birding-oriented visitors and nature lovers seeking quality accommodation for groups and for special celebrations in an idyllic setting need look no further!

Can Jan - the House!

Can Jan is a unique experience of luxury accommodation for up to 24 people.Here you can relax in complete serenity, or party as hard as you like within 500 acres of private woodland.

Can Jan - the House!

Whether it’s mountain biking, bird-watching, hiking, canoeing, horse riding or golf, Can Jan is the perfect base. See the sights of the charming, medieval town of Besalú only 10 minutes away, or simply relax by the pool.

Can Jan - the House!

Can Jan - the House!

Can Jan is situated in over 500 acres of private woodland including a great many hiking trails to explore on foot or two wheels, and these adjoin the extensive La Garroxta Natural Park. You will discover an extraordinary habitat full of birds (including nightingales and birds of prey), butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, deer, wild boar, polecats, weasels and wild mink. 

Can Jan - the House!

The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà nature reserve is a short drive away, and a visit here can be complimented with birding around the Cap de Creus or the Montgrí massif.

Can Jan – who wouldn’t?

A splendid slim volume

A splendid slim volume

Hi Steve

 Bee-eaters, Merops apiaster. Illustration from “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains”

Just thought I should drop you a line to let you know how much I’m enjoying your book. Although perhaps a reluctant purchaser (having experienced some rather dull ornithological offerings previously), I must confess that your mix of personal anecdote interwoven with some interesting interaction with some unusual avian species has got me absolutely enthralled. It helps, of course, that we have met and that now, having participated in the recent tour and been uplifted by seeing some of the species under discussion, I can put at least some of the memoirs in context. It did also cross my mind that, if I had read the book before the tour, we might have had some more interesting discussions over breakfast and dinner!

Anyway, congratulations on a splendid slim volume and thanks again for leading us on an excellent tour.

Peter 

Here Peter is referring to “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains”. Most of you haven’t read this “splendid slim volume”. That’s easy to rectify:

Subbuteo Natural History Books  

Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains

Friends of the Lammergeier

Our Facebook group “Friends of the Lammergeier” is fast approaching 1,000 members. Many are the bird and wildlife photographers who are sharing their photographs, comments and references about this splendid bird with a growing Facebook community.

For example, Jari Peltomaki left this little appetizer for us all:

 Lammergeiers in Catalonia

Magnificent work, Jari!

Although he’s not the only one….

Icemen and Lammergeiers: The Spanish translation

Cliquea aqui para bajar:

Hombres de hielo y quebrantahuesos

Hace tiempo que hice traducir este capítulo de mi libro “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains” al castellano. Y desde entonces ha estado todo solito en mi ordenador.

Pues, ahora a ver si sirve de algo, y que a lo mejor guste a algún lector que se encuentre más a gusto leyendo en castellano que en el idioma de Su Majestad la Reina de Inglaterra.

¡Disfrutadlo!

Marine Birds according to José

 Artist José’s impression of Steve West during the “Marine Birds of Catalunya” course held at Vila-seca

 

 

Caricature of Steve West 

 

Many thanks for your drawings José! You’re an artist. I don’t know how you got my knees right without ever seeing them!

The best birding hotels in northeast Spain

Part of the autumn maintenance of the BirdingInSpain.com website is the renovation of links to our many recommended hotels. This is the time when the professional establishments that collaborate with BirdingInSpain.com decide if they want to extend their relationship with us for another year, or to say farewell to the birding community.

 

                              Birding group relaxing at Roca Blanca hotel

It should be said that we at BirdingInSpain.com don’t just recommend any old hotel, because if we did we’d be putting our reputation on the line for a very poor return. We either select hotels that we know personally, or hotels which our clients or friends recommend to us. We also apply desirable criteria like an attractive rural setting (with good birding on the doorstep if possible), personal treatment, quality service at a reasonable price and an inclination to understanding a birder’s needs.  

These following hotels have decided to continue their relationship with BirdingInSpain.com and to welcome birders from all over the world:

Delta Hotel, Ebro Delta

Rincón Del Cierzo, Belchite

Allucant, Gallocanta

Castellsdelleida, Montsec

Monestir de les Avellanes, Montsec

Hotel Usón, Hecho Valley

Hospedería Loarre, Sierra de Guara West

Hostería Sierra de Guara, Sierra de Guara East

Hotel Roca Blanca, Aigüestortes East

Hospital de Benasque, Benasque

Hotel Mediodía, Aínsa to Gistaín

Hotel la Garbinada, Drylands of Lleida

Can Navata, Aiguamolls de l’Empordà

Mas del Joncar, Aiguamolls de l’Empordà

La Farinera, Els Ports

Hotel Santa Cruz de la Serós, Hecho Valley

Xalet de Prades, Montsant and Prades

Some others have only just joined us, and are keen to receive birders. Let’s not disappoint them: 

Les Eres, Serra del Cadí

Metsola, Irati and Roncal Valley

Hotel Secaiza, Gallocanta

Casagran, Cardó Massif

Font del Pas, Els Ports

“Photographier les Oiseaux Sauvage” by Franck Renard

Words from the author himself, Franck Renard:

The title of my new book is Photographier les oiseaux sauvage (Photographing wild birds)

Photographier les Oiseaux Sauvage by Franck Renard

It is a guide for beginners in which I give some information and advice to improve the quality of its images of birds in the nature.

Naturally there are some pictures of lammergeiers and Birdinginspain.com is quoted in the practical information !

The book is available on the site of the publisher in France, at this address : www.image-nature.com/objet_126.html

Franck was with us in the Lammergeier hides in February.

I hope your book sells out, Franck. I’ll be ordering mine very soon (and with it the opportunity to practice my secondary school French reading comprehension).

Steve West i Llucià Ferrer fan el sisó

El sisó de Montsonís 

 Spplllppp!

Aquest dilluns 17 d’agost en TV3 va emetre el programa “Quin país!” presentat per en Llucià Ferrer. El programa va presentar el poble de Montsonís, a prop d’Artesa de Segre. Els televidents vam tindre la oportunitat de veure el castell, alguna de les coves i alguns personatges interessants del poble, a més de sentir explicacions sobre regals inútils, visites al castell, un itinerari de tir amb arc i sortides per observar ocells portades a terme en anglés

Per aquest últim em van demanar que vingués a una entrevista amb en Llucià Ferrer, antic presentador de ràdio de RAC 105.

Vam passar una estona força distesa,  i a en Llucià no li va costar massa demanar coses que en una entrevista formal no s’acostuma a demanar: imitacions de les veus d’alguns ocells. Vam acabar fent l’oriol i el puput (fàcils), i al final, la piece de resistance, el sisó Tetrax tetrax.

Voleu veure com vam plasmar la parada nupcial del sisó? Cliqueu en el següent enllaç per veure el programa:

El sisó segons en Steve i en Llucià Ferrer

TV3 a Montsonís

Darrere de les escenes

Nature Photographer Brutus Östling in Catalonia

 Little Owl, Athene noctua

 Little Owl by Brutus Östling

The renowned Swedish nature photographer Brutus Östling was with us recently. He came for a few days to photograph Lammergeiers and vultures from the hide and also found time to take this splendid shot of a Little Owl from one of our hides on the plains of Lleida, in Catalonia.

See more about him and his work at Brutus Östling’s website here.

Brutus Östling is the only nature photographer to have won the World Wildlife Fund’s Panda Book of the Year prize twice.

The first prize was for “Life on the Wing

 Life on the Wing

And more recently he won the prize the second time with “The Kingdom of the Eagle” 

Kingdom of the Eagle

He was also Nature Photographer of the year in 2006.

Hopefully he’ll be thinking about how to portray some of the birds of northeast Spain in his next work of art.