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Update On The Local European Bee-Eaters

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You may think that I’ve gone a bit quiet on the local Bee-Eater colony, but I am still keeping an eye on them, however, I’m leaving them in peace to finish off their nesting tunnels before I spend more time amongst them.

This afternoon I was working on something new at “A Rocha”, an area on top of a large rocky lump that I leave to the wildlife. I have spotted some Rock Buntings and I’m planning some shots so was setting a nice scene around a small water pond I built some time ago. The Bee-Eaters were all around hunting and I wondered why they didn’t seem too bothered about my presence. I moved a little closer to a spot where I can over look a tree they usually rest on and they didn’t seem bothered at all that I was there. I was standing in direct view and they happily carried on with their activities. This is a great afternoon spot for watching and photographing them, so will plan a session here in the near future. I think they have almost finished their tunnels now and will soon be moving in and I’m looking forward to getting close up to them.

Although I was close, I was only armed with my 80-400mm so was a little short on reach, but at least I got these shots to show how great an angle it is!


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This Year’s First Session With the Golden Orioles

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The Eurasian Golden Oriole (often refered to as just Golden Oriole) is a difficult bird to photograph. Even though the male is incredibly bright yellow with contrasting black wings and a bright red beak, they are very shy and seem to be able to camouflage themselves easily with the tree canopy.

Last year, I struggled to get the shot I was looking for and so am determined this year. So this morning I was out early in a wooded area next to the Quinta and waited. Soon enough they arrived and started to make their flute-like whistle song. As usual, I just couldn’t get a clear shot of them and at times although I could clearly see where the song was coming from, I couldn’t even spot them.

Normally with my first sessions, particularly ones locally, I use the time to study any patterns of behaviour and favorite places to perch and I have established a pattern that will help me on my next session with them.

The highlight of the morning wasn’t actually the birds. I was sat camouflaged out of sight when I heard a rustle in a nearby bush. Out came an Egyptian Mongoose, it didn’t see me and came within about 1 meter. It was impossible to turn the camera so I tried to silently grab my phone for a quick snap, but it spotted me and fled. Funnily enough, these are joint top of the list for this year! So I will be looking to use the track it used to photograph these too!

I did manage to get one shot of a male Golden Oriole which is not great, but a shot nonetheless.

{Click image for a higher resolution}


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Iberian Magpie In The Morning Sun

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Whilst this was a Dog Walk photo, I think it’s worthy of it’s own post rather than the usual Dog Walk Blog. We were walking our usual route through a field that has high crop, which could be Barley but I’m unsure, and there was a small gathering of Iberian Magpies almost bouncing up and down deep inside the high crop. The sun was golden and I waited for the right moment to capture this Magpie bounce up and swoop back down again. This is a tricky shot as too many focus points and the camera can easily select the vegetation rather than the bird, but it nailed the focus perfectly. For this shot I selected 25 focus points. Sounds a lot, but is a small number around the centre of the Nikon D850’s 153 focus points. It is shot in full manual mode at f/9, 1/2000sec and ISO1250 (AutoISO enabled).

I have also placed this in the shop should you wish to purchase a print. View in shop…

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Iberian Magpie - Charneco - Cyanopica cooki



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Desperate For Some Nature, So I Visited The Local Little Owl

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The last 2 days have been early starts for 2 days of workshops and even though I’ve had a lot of fun, I was missing my dose of nature.

The late afternoon light was looking great so I paid the local Little Owl a visit, I made my way through some Esteva (Gum Rock Rose) and now I’m sitting here removing ticks! YUCK!

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Little Owl - Mocho-galego - Athene noctua
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I’ve Found Another Pair Of Blue Rock Thrushes…..Oh And A Quick Shot Of My Local Little Owl Too!

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My parents are over visiting and I always take my Mum out on the Quad Bike for a nature ride. This afternoon we went off exploring the hills and were enjoying the scenery when I spotted a bird fly from its perch on an electricity cable to hide on top of a pole. I stopped abruptly, forgetting for a moment that Mum was on the back and ran down the track to verify what I thought, a Female Rock Thrush. Pictures are terrible due to the distance but thought I’d take some just as a record shot for you.


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Morning Dog Walk: A Small Flock Of Waxbills

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I take a camera along on my Dog Walks to bring you some of the sightings that I see on my morning walks, these photos are rarely going to be great quality as its hard enough keeping an energetic Dog entertained and get close enough to anything. They also help me identify where species are so that I can plan to return.

The Common Waxbill (Portuguese: Bico-de-lacre, Latin: Estrilda astrild) thrives in the Algarve region and actually originates from being “introduced” in the late 1960s, I have read references citing escaped caged birds but also scientific studies carried out, so unsure if “introduced” relates to accidental or release. These are usually very shy of humans (in my experience) but this morning a small flock of around 5 (I have seen them 50 strong!) were happy to continue rummaging through the long wild flowers. These ground nesting birds are usually spotted around a water source. I think they look like a vibrant Zorro! This year I have not seen the numbers I usually witness, hopefully that’s just bad luck on my account.

As you can see below, the look amazing in amongst the vibrant wild flowers.

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Common Waxbill - Bico-de-lacre - Estrilda astrild
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