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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So Lucky To Have 3 Of My Favourite Bird Species Nearby (Plus A Rare Flyby!)

This morning, I was sat on the terrace drinking a Coffee and a pair (male and female) of Golden Orioles came into plain view in a Eucalyptus tree about 50 meters away. I wasn’t quick enough to grab the camera and get the female, but I got the male. This isn’t the same location as the nearby “Oriole Terrace” this is so much closer. They actually woke me at 6am with their stunning song, I suspect they are going to nest in this tree which is fantastic news. They also have the choice of many Fig trees nearby so is the perfect location, their Portuguese name is actually Papa-figo as Figs are their food of choice. All of the photos below are shot on my D850 and then transferred with SnapBridge to my smartphone and edited in Lightroom.

Here is a quick shot of the male.


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First Session Of The Year On “Oriole Terrace”

Right next to our land there is a steep bank with Eucalyptus Trees that a number of pairs of Golden Orioles nest in. There is a natural terrace near the top that I can sit and look over the trees, I call this “Oriole Terrace”.

Now that I have confirmation that the Golden Orioles are returning I decided to have a morning session. You would think that this over-looking vantage point would make it easy to photograph them, however, Golden Orioles are renowned for their shyness and even though the male is bright yellow (the female not so bright) they are easily camouflaged amongst the branches.

This morning was more of a scouting trip but I did have the camera and I was luckily enough to grab a few shots of a male whilst he was, almost, out in the open. The light still wasn’t great and I was also using a 1.4x Teleconverter on my 500mm f/4 lens so the photos are not as sharp as I’d hope, but a great start to what has really been a difficult bird for me to capture. Hopefully, my luck with these amazing birds will change. Not only are they beautiful birds, their song is magical, almost flute-like.

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Morning Dog Walk: Spotted My First Golden Oriole Of The Year

There has been a Starling mimicking a Golden Oriole all winter but last week I heard not only a song but a call and knew there was at least one Golden Oriole back.

This morning I heard a song near the river and it was far too good to be a Starling, soon after I heard the call. Even though the males are bright yellow, they blend in with green leaves very well. However, his continued song and call gave his location away and I managed to grab a quick record shot of him. There was two and I suspect the other was a female which is much more greener and even more difficult to spot.


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This Year’s First Session With the Golden Orioles

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.


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My Next Challenge – Golden Oriole

Whilst I was sitting at the riverbank this morning, photographing the Kingfisher I spotted a Male Golden Oriole with breakfast perched in a tree.

It was a long way away, but close enough for a “record” shot. There are a lot of breeding Golden Orioles in my local area, but so far they have eluded me. This morning, I could hear them singing away in a nearby Eucalyptus grove. I have a ledge that I can hide on which puts me almost level with the tops of the trees, but no joy as yet.

Male Golden Oriole

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