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Bird photography trip to Spain

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bird photography trip to Spain

Bird Photography trip to Spain

Recently I conducted a scouting bird photography trip to Spain to test several hides for bird photography not far from Madrid. Spain has been on my radar for many years and after I started doing birdwatching trips there, I decided to explore the opportunities for bird photography trips as well. The hides here are notorious for their very high productivity and I wanted to experience that myself.

The Hides

The site is a private reserve managed for conservation and bird photography. There are over 10 hides which are targeted mainly for birds of prey in winter and waterfowl, grouses and passerines in summer. In winter they had three areas for birds of prey, one for common cranes and one for Water Rail. Photography is via one-way glass which was very high quality and didn’t compromise the pictures. At the same time, birds are not shy and behave naturally.

Day 1

The first one I visited was for Iberian Grey Shrike but the bird never arrived. Instead, a Dartford Warbler turned up which is a good bird for me. In the afternoon i entered a hide for Marsh Harrier, Red Kite and Mongoose but the strong wind had made all the birds to hide. For the afternoon we had only a couple of Marsh Harriers that landed for a while.

Dartford Warbler, image: Iordan Hristov

Day 2

On the second day I spent the morning in a hide for Spanish Imperial Eagle. Boy, that was really good. The local guide had to wait a little bit until there is enough light for photography so that the local foxes patrolling the area don’t steal all the food for the birds. About 5 minutes the guide left, two Spanish Imperial Eagles arrived. Then 2 Red Kites, 8 Marsh Harriers and 3 Common Birds. There was a bird on every single post in front of the hide. The site had three small hides for two persons each allowing some privacy. The plan for the afternoon was to spent some time again in the same hide as yesterday afternoon but i decided there is no argument there at all. I had beautiful shots of Red Kites in flight and plenty of Marsh Harriers. The only thing would have been the Mongoose which i wasn’t really willing to photograph.

Spanish Imperial Eagle at first morning light, image: Iordan Hristov

Day 3

The third day of my stay was at another place for raptors. This time the main purpose was the Bonelli’s Eagle. It arrived literary 5 minutes after the guide left. I saw it approaching from a distance and managed to follow it until it landed right in front of me. The bird started feeding actively and kept moving from perch to perch with short flights. There was some interaction with other birds but the short distance to the perches didn’t allow me to take many shots even though I was with a 300mm lens on a full-frame camera. I was pretty happy as this was my first time to photograph this majestic bird. Light was absolutely gorgeous! The bird stayed for over an hour throughout the best light of the day. The whole show was for 1.5 hours which allowed us exit the hide quite early. Again the plan for the afternoon was to spend some time in the hide for the Mongoose but i decided not to.

bird photography trip to Spain
Bonelli’s Eagle, image: Iordan Hristov

This was a very productive session for these three days. If had more time i would have spent some time in the hide for cranes but it wasn’t possible at the moment because of other bookings on the same time. In other years, one of the hides is very productive for Black-shouldered Kite which i was really hoping to photograph but it turned out that i hasn’t come this winter at all. Well, nature is unpredictable. I hope there will be other time.

Future bird photography trips to Spain

Have a look at the images below and let me know what you think in the comments below. Feel free to contact me using this form if you are willing to spend a few days in Spain photographing these fantastic raptors and possibly Common cranes, Mongoose, Kingfisher, and Water Rail. I would be happy to take you there.

Winter months from November to February are best for birds of prey like the Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Red Kite, and sometimes even the Black Shouldered Kite is possible. Spring (May-July) are best for waterfowl photographed from a floating hide. Some of the birds possible to photograph are Black-necked Grebe, White-Headed Duck, Pochard, grebes, herons, storks, flamingos, spoonbills, waders, gulls, and terns.


Here are some of the pictures i took during my fairly short visit:

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