I Couldn’t Resist Castro Verde….

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I was disappointed that my Field Trip to Castro Verde was cancelled, but as one person said in response, “The birds will be there next year”, of course. However, as the day was planned, I couldn’t resist taking 2 friends on a quick drive around the area.

I don’t normally do “walkabout shooting” (what I use to describe photography without a plan) except for when I walk the dogs, and as I was driving and it was a day off for me, I didn’t pick the camera up too much.

It was a fairly quiet day but we did get to see the following species worth noting

Great Bustards
Griffon Vultures
Booted Eagles
Black Kites (lots of them everywhere we went!)
Montagu’s Harriers
European Rollers
Little Owl
European Bee-eaters
Great Spotted Cuckoo

Here are just a few snaps I shot.

Great Bustards in flight

Little Owl

European Bee-eater

European Roller in flight

A flock of Cattle Egrets purposely underexposed

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It’s That Time Of Year Again – Common Kingfishers

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If you have been following me for a while you will know how lucky I am to have Kingfishers living on a stretch of the River Odelouca that runs through my land. Over the last few years, I have been lucky to bring you some beautiful photos of Common Kingfishers and I hope that the adults have successfully bred again this year.

To get everyone in the mood, here is a fresh, previously unpublished photo of a juvenile female from last year. I will soon be looking for some locations to shoot from.

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Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Hiding In The Shadows

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This is an old photo from April 2019 that I discovered today whilst looking for other photos of these tiny Woodpeckers. I hadn’t processed for some reason so it just goes to show that sometimes looking through old photos can bring up a surprise. It is a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, identified by the red crown as the female doesn’t have it.

It was half in the sun and half hidden by a large branch of this Cork Oak it was making a nest in. Unfortunately, this old tree has since fallen down, it was already dead and it didn’t survive a strong storm.

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European Roller In Flight

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This shot is one from the same session as last week. Trying to photograph birds in flight with a 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4x teleconverter is difficult at anytime, even more so when crouched on the floor amongst thick foliage covered with a camouflage net. It’s fair to say that the memory card had a lot of missed shots, but when you get a keeper like this, it makes it all the more worthwhile.

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Does Equipment Matter?

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Yes, of course it does……

That’s that then. Well, no, not really. Let’s first talk about Motorsport, if you watch F1 and get excited about the thrill of the drivers balancing the physics of a finely tuned piece of engineering, does that mean that you can’t enjoy a Sunday drive through the countryside in a Ford Fiesta? Of course you can. For me it’s the same with photography.

I’m not going to pretend that shooting with Nikon’s fantastic D850 DSLR paired with a Nikon 500mm f/4 doesn’t make life much easier for me as a photographer, of course it does, but that doesn’t mean that you need this level of equipment to capture stunning photos. Anyone who has attended one of my Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshop will remember that I talk a lot about that although professional equipment offers superior quality, it doesn’t mean that you cannot shoot stunning photographs with level-entry equipment, far from it. I quite often get told “It’s easy for you with your camera”, yes, it’s easier, but doesn’t mean that photography is impossible without expensive equipment.

This morning, it got me thinking about this so I grabbed a Nikon D3100 that I use as a loan camera on my workshops and attached my Nikon 80-400mm lens to it. Yes, ok, some of you are going to spot that this is a professional grade lens, I don’t own a “long” telephoto lens that isn’t. However, it’ll still be possible to get great photos with a much cheaper lens attached.

The Nikon D3100 is a level-entry camera with just 14.2 megapixels and was released back in 2010. Ten years in the world of photography is a long-time!

It didn’t take long until a pair of juvenile Eurasian Nuthatches we have in the garden showed up on an old dead Oak Tree. So here you go, I think you’ll agree that these are quite nice shots of them.

If you work with good light, shoot at the correct angles and of course dial in the correct camera settings then great photography is available.

Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my “Open” Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshops are suspended, however, private sessions are available. These workshops are a great way to learn to take control of your camera.

If you feel like really getting your teeth into photography, a great way to go from beginner to great photographer is to book some Personal 3 Hour Photography Workshop Sessions. These sessions can take you right from the start through to post-processing in Adobe Lightroom at a pace that suits you and as many or little sessions as you wish, these can be done in the comfort of your own home!


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All images are protected by international copyright!
All of the content displayed on this website (unless otherwise stated) remains the copyright of Craig Rogers. It is illegal to download, copy (including copy by reference) or distribute any content without prior permission and/or licensing. Please read my Copyright Statement.

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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All images are protected by international copyright!
All of the content displayed on this website (unless otherwise stated) remains the copyright of Craig Rogers. It is illegal to download, copy (including copy by reference) or distribute any content without prior permission and/or licensing. Please read my Copyright Statement.