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Showing posts from July, 2015

Vulture quartet

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It has taken me eleven years to finally get to spend a morning in a photographic hide to watch vultures come to carrion. It had been on my bucket list ever since this type of service started to be offered in Extremadura. So it was great anticipation that I booked in for my son and me at the La Cañada Hide just south of the Monfragüe National Park. Jesús met us at the rendez-vous spot just after seven in the morning and a few minutes later he welcomed us into the hide. From the information I had read previously I had already dispelled any notion of sitting on a stool in a cramped canvas structure, with the camera lens poking out of a slit in the fabric. This was a bricks-and-mortar construction, with plenty of space. Curtains divided the hide into two: at the back the entrance, with a table with bird notes and a cubicle with a chemical flush toilet. Beyond the curtains, a long window covered almost the entire width of the building, using spy-glass so that birds outside could not see u…

Flocks on the summer plains

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The summer heat has been fiercer and more prolonged this year, pushing folk indoors for most of the day as temperatures hit 40ºC, thus the exhilaration to be out in the relative freshness of dawn. It was especially so this morning following a night of distant thunder, with the emerging rays of sunshine blushing the pink-grey clouds. On the plains the spring mosaic has been transformed to an almost monochrome blonded-yellow with pasture now indistinguishable from cereal stubble. The only fields that stand apart are those that have been ploughed and now rest. In one, where the ground had been turned over months ago, there was an incongruous green: the indomitable Heliotrope with its rounded grey-green leaves and tiny furl of white flowers, a plant that somehow flourishes in bare dry soils and the dessicating heat of high summer.

The first birds airbourne were the parties of Cattle Egrets, radiating purposefully from the roost, quickly followed by the Black Kites with lazy flight, drif…