I was inside the house putting my mobile studio back into storage after a storm postponed a commercial shoot today and Emma was shouting from outside the front door; “Craig, quick grab your camera!”. She had uncovered an Iberian Midwife Toad that had decided to shelter near the front door, probably from the heavy rainstorm overnight.
It’s rare to see these tiny toads in the daylight, so I carefully placed it on a nearby rock and shot these photos before placing it in undergrowth for it to hide until darkness.
The tiny toads are amazing and at night have a high-pitched beeping noise. Rather than me type all the information again, take a look at my Algarve Resident article I wrote in November 2019.
In case you are wondering this was about just 40mm in length, the size of an adult.
2021 hasn’t been a great start for me personally, with the ANAC delaying the EU-wide Drone regulations and then the issues surrounding shipping products to the UK. However, here is something that certainly cheered me up.
It’s a fresh edit of a shot of a female Common Kestrel with a mouse that I shot back in 2015 in Worcestershire, England. With processing software becoming far more advanced in the last 5 years, I took a new approach at processing this image.
I’m sure you’ll agree, she’s a stunner! Fancy her on your wall, then she is available to purchase in print.
Ponta da Piedade is a stunning location near Lagos and can be found on the end of the headland, where there is a lighthouse too. The waterside at Ponta da Piedade is reached by what seems like thousands of steps and at 6am in December it is dark, completely dark. Armed with a powerful Mountain Bike LED light I reach the bottom only to be greeted with quite a rough sea. It was too dangerous to stand on the man-made concrete pad so changed my location to slightly higher up than planned. My plans of capturing the first light of the sun peeking around the rock formation was still perfect. As I waited everything became brighter and eventually I was bathed in sunshine capturing this shot which I have titled “Sunlight Arrives”.
It is available in print (framed and unframed) in the web shop, more details HERE.
I was enjoying a peaceful breakfast outside now that the fires have gone and a nearby Eucalyptus Tree had a pair of juvenile Golden Orioles calling for their parents. These will be from this year’s brood.
They were a bit far away, but managed to grab the camera and get these two shots.
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.
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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