European Rollers Of The Lower Alentejo

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I remember being in South Africa in 2010 and spotting my first ever Lilac Breasted Roller, a stunning bird, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the European Roller breeds in the Lower Alentejo, just 30 minutes from the Quinta.

Although I’ve now lived in Portugal for almost 4 years I have never planned to go and photograph them. They are not great around humans and they are certainly one species of bird that I don’t want to interfere with. Although worldwide they are successful, they are an endangered species here in Portugal. The Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (LPN) centre near Castro Verde has certainly helped with their survival and has a dedicated nesting building for them. The lower Alentejo region has many abandoned and ruined farm buildings which makes it perfect for these birds to nest. Many buildings have been equipped to help too. Where you find the European Roller, you often also spot Lesser Kestrels as they use the same buildings to nest.

They always remind me of a colourful Jackdaw as their size, stock and beak shape is very similar.

I have been monitoring them at a site on two occasions over the last few weeks and yesterday I decided to head to the location before sunrise. I arrived at 5:30am and everything apart from the distant noise of early morning Crows was silent. I headed to a spot I had planned which was in thick overgrown flowers and crop, crouched down under the a camo net and waited. They were soon flying around making their really loud Crow-like call. Soon enough I had the chance to photograph a few. As you can see in the first photo, I have named this one (difficult to determine the sex as they are both identical) Scruffy due to the lose feather. I assume this will fall out so won’t be able to ID it next time. It spent most of the time I was there chasing off the Lesser Kestrels. Even after just one session, I can already see some different characters.

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Egyptian Mongoose Capture On A Trail Cam (Video)

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As anyone following me for a while will know, part of the passion of photographing wildlife is getting up close with them to capture as much detail in my shots. I’ve been wanting to do this with the local Egyptian Mongoose so I set out a Trail Cam 2 days ago in an area where I had a close encounter with one 2 years ago. There was nothing on the first day but on checking the footage this morning, one came right up to the camera yesterday afternoon.

Not really what I was hoping for as I have the perfect angle and location here with the morning sun, but I will keep monitoring the area for a while to try and work out any patterns they may have and plan to hide and photograph them from a good vantage point.

For now, check the stunning but short footage. The bells you can hear in the background are some cattle and the random human voice is a lady who lives in the bottom of the valley. She is about 800 metres away, this camera really does pick up noise well.

{Remember to watch in HD if possible}

Baby Nuthatch!

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This morning I was in the garden shooting backlit Honey Bees (another blog to follow later) and I heard a tapping noise in one of our Oak Trees. I thought it would be the usual Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers which are common in our area, however, when I looked I noticed 2 juvenile Eurasian Nuthatches. Here is a photo of one who briefly posed on top of the tree for me.

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Always On The Lookout! Lycosa Tarantula & Scorpion!

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This morning I was shooting a landscape commission in the Lower Alentejo and once I was done I took a quick look around the area. Within just 5 meters of the car (I was down a dirt track) I found a Female Tarantula Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula) burrow and also a Common Yellow Scorpion (Buthus occitanus).

Of course, I’m no stranger to the Tarantula Wolf Spider which is how I noticed the burrow opening, Read my other Tarantula Blog Posts.


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Male European Rhinoceros Beetle

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I was so excited to see a male European Rhino Beetle in the garden tonight. These are amazing creatures and in adult life they do not feed, all their feeding is done during larvae stage in which you will find them in rotting wood. They are often misidentified as Palm Tree destroyers as they are often found when a dead Palm Tree is cut down, however, the eggs are laid inside the already decaying Palm Tree. There are other species of Rhino Beetle in the world that can damage trees.

I have been working in the garden and today I was cutting wood, this is why the patio table has sawdust, also for some reason he is covered in sawdust although this could be from wherever he has emerged from. He sat and posed with glass of the patio table giving a great reflection. He was large too, they usually grow to around 4cm, sometimes almost 5cm. This one was nearing 5cm!

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