Backlit Bee-Eater On The Chase

I have quite a few shots from a session of shooting into the sunset yesterday evening and I’ll post a new blog entry soon, but this photo deserves it’s own post!

As a photographer, you can put yourself in the right place at the right time by careful planning, but sometimes that extra bit of luck can make all the difference.

Here is a backlit shot of a European Bee-Eater swopping in to catch a Honey Bee. In case you are wondering, it easily caught it and took it to feed a juvenile perched waiting on a nearby electricity cable.

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Bee-Eater Wake-Up Call

I’ve mentioned on many occasions about the colony of European Bee-Eaters that use to establish every year around the quinta but for unknown reasons have been absent for 2 summers. However, over the last few mornings as daylight starts to break a flock of them arrive outside the bedroom window and every day the numbers are increasing. I suspect it is groups from various colonies that have finished breeding joining together. A quick guestimate is that the group is between 50, maybe 60 birds.

Tonight they even came for an evening communal hunt and whilst we eat alfresco we were surrounded by them swooping just a few meters away. If this happens again tomorrow I will be ready with a camera for some sunset backlit shots. Photographs in the early mornings have been hindered by some hill fog (that clears very quickly once the sun rises) so morning shots have been difficult. However, here are some from yesterday morning.

First up, 2 adults and a juvenile (on the left)


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The Kingfishers & Their Friend Weasel

Ok, I very much doubt a Weasel would be a Kingfisher friend but it makes a nice children’s story book title…….

I was counting on a sleepy morning today but the dogs had other ideas, waking me up before sunrise. Therefore, I took the opportunity to spend some time at the new Kingfisher perch I placed in the river a few days ago.

It still needs some work on positioning but it’s great to see once again there are many Kingfishers present. The local pair seem to be busy feeding a 2nd brood and although not intentional, I have spotted their nest in the riverbank where they are busy delivering food. There’s plenty wrong with the Kingfisher image below, but it’s a great start to my new season of Kingfisher photos!

Whilst I sat there patiently waiting a Weasel showed up running around like crazy. I fired the camera shutter which grabbed it’s attention and then fired off the shot below with him looking directly at the camera before continuing on its hunt for breakfast.

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I looked for my lost mojo….and found it.

The current state of the world with Covid-19 is still causing so much hardship and pain and has affected many people differently. For me, I can’t complain as my commercial photography (FotoSul) has thrived due to people taking the opportunity of the lack of tourists to update their property portfolios. This however has had a knock-on effect with my passion (but still a job), my nature photography.

For those that have followed me for a while will know that I plan, watch, plan, shoot and probably shoot again with all the projects that I set myself. If I’m honest, the hardship of Covid-19, mainly not being able to see family left me with a real “just can’t be bothered” approach to my nature photography. Not good…..

So I got in touch with bird guru and friend Frank McClintock who owns and runs the fantastic “Paradise in Portugal”. Officially known as Quinta Do Barranco Da Estrada it has amazing lodging on the banks of the Barragem de Santa Clara. If you are looking for that something special to get away in nature, not a lot comes close to this special location which has been carefully ecologically crafted to create a real nature-lovers must visit. As I mentioned, Frank is a guru when it comes to bird watching and offers amazing guiding trips. Take a look at the website at https://www.paradise-in-portugal.com.

I just wanted to get out in nature and find my mojo, Frank suggested not only a session in the Golden Oriole hide but also his riverside hide close to the nearby village of Santa Clara-a-Velha which he is more than happy for people to use, but if you do, take a visit to the lodge, you won’t be disappointed.

The morning worked! Now, I have the enthusiasm to get planning to get close up and personal with the fantastic wildlife we have here. There are some projects that I will be doing over the next couple of months to start attracting wildlife to the quinta, mainly a wildlife pond with a sunken hide which I did actually start quite a while back.

So, here are some of the snaps I got today.

Firstly some of the many Golden Orioles. First up, a shot of a male in flight with his breakfast and an onlooking juvenile who clearly wants to be fed.


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Young Hedgehog Foraging In The Garden

There are quite a few Hedgehogs around the quinta and last night I spotted a very young one foraging. It was very small, so suspect this is a baby from this year already off on it’s own adventure.

Just to confirm, I did not use a flash for this photo, I’m not a fan of firing a flash at wildlife where possible. This was lit with a low powered LED and I have shot at a high (2000) ISO.

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