Wild Images comes to Lleida


the 8th to 15th May we received the first group of photographers from Wild Images. Wild Images, a daughter company of Birdquest, came with leader Mike Watson and 6 avid bird photographers from different parts of the UK. 

Little Owls, Athene noctua.

They followed the basic outline of our Great Photo Trip (see details here) with 3 days on the plains of Lleida and 2 in the Lammergeier hide in the Pre-Pyrenees.

Apart from Lammergeiers and the other 3 species of vulture they also managed to get excellent shots of a wide variety of birds on the steppes, in magnificent spring scenery. Jumping Little Bustards, Bee-eaters, Stone Curlews, Montagu’s Harriers, Iberian Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting and even a last minute Hoopoe! Still, in my opinion it was the Little Owls that really stole the show. 

Bee-eaters, Merops apiaster.

Did they leave with smiles on their faces and giving us the thumbs up? Well, yes. And if you want to see some of the great photos they took then you need do no more than click on these links to their own websites:

Mike Watson (Wild Images leader)

Eric McCabe (with wife Lesley hailing from Scotland)

David Mercer

Congratulations to all! We’re looking forward to next spring already.

Plain sailing


Quail, Coturnix coturnix.

A Quail sat in the track in my car headlights just before dawn


Bee-eater, Merops apiaster.

The Bee-eaters in front of the hide were bright and good afternoon entertainment

Little Owl

Little Owls, Athene noctua.

The Little Owl antics usually steal the show.

Thekla Lark

Thekla Lark, Galerida theklae

Singing Thekla Lark was an added bonus from the Hoopoe hide. 

Monty’s Harrier

Montagu’s Harrier, Circus pygargus.

Poppy landscape

Poppy Landscape, Lleida.

Now that’s not bad for a (very early) morning or two out on the plains of Lleida.

Lammergeiers and Black Vultures

A couple of flight sequences from some months back. In the Pre-pyrenees of Lleida.

Black Vulture, Aegypius monachus, in flight

Black Vulture, Aegypius monachus, in flight

Black Vulture, Aegypius monachus, in flight

Black Vultures have bred there now for the second consecutive year and seem to be on the way to repaying the efforts at re-establishing the species in this part of Spain.

Lammergeiers, Gypaetus barbatus, in flightLammergeiers, Gypaetus barbatus, in flight

In the last year or so some Lammergeiers have been observed outside their normal range in the Pyrenees. It is well known that vacant territories for this species in the Pyrenees are hard to come by, so perhaps this is a forced response by this normally sedentary species.

Lammergeiers, Gypaetus barbatus, in flight

One slightly worrying aspect about the latter species is that a couple of adult birds have been found dead, the cause of death having been lead poisoning. This fact is of great relevance to feeding stations: they are strongly advised not to put out animals that have been shot (boar, deer, etc), as if the bullet is not removed from the corpse within five minutes of entering the body the lead spreads around the body and can end up in Lammergeiers and other vultures.

Let’s hope they take note.

Shhh! Stone Curlews at nest

This is one of the pair of Stone Curlews that nested by the side of one of our Bee-eater hides on the plains of Lleida.

Stone Curlew, Burrhinus oedicnemus.

The nest was basically a small hollow lined with a bit of dry grass and gravel-sized stones. The eggs, two, were speckled and brown-beige. The adults were very discreet in their comings and goings, as you would expect from a ground-nesting bird. One of the adults would incubate while the other would stay around preening, dozing or stretching itself, although at times the incubating bird also got up and took a small rest from pre-parental responsibilities.

Stone Curlew, Burrhinus oedicnemus, eggs and nestStone Curlew, Burrhinus oedicnemus, nest and eggs

On Wednesday the female started making some strange noises, which Jordi Bas explained as the female making contact with young which were almost ready to hatch. Sure enough, the next day there were two tiny chicks, to the delight of all. Today all the birds have gone from the nest site.

Norwegian Poppies

 Norwegian Poppies

Roy Mangersnes and his Wildphoto photographers came to the drylands of Lleida to photograph displaying Little Bustards, Stone Curlew, Little Owl, Bee-eater, Montagu’s Harrier and more last week. By all accounts they had a great time and got some excellent shots.

You can read Roy’s blog entry at this link. 

And see a small selection of his photos.