RAPTORS: The sky’s of Murcia

Seasoned and a self-tort field naturlist, Eloy Perez is an expert on Southeast Iberian raptors, he knows  every last cliff ledge and revine where the eagle owls live, from the northern regions of Murcia to the   coastal cliffs. It has been my plesure to have met you and undersand your love of wildlife.

© Eloy Pérez

When did your interest in nature start?

My family tradition of hunting when i was very young, when my uncle began to instruct me in hunting techniques. However, from the age of 23 I started a “gradual conversion process” and killing animals became less sense to me. I kept going to the field often but I changed the shotgun for binoculars to observe and study the wildlife. Little by little at the beginning, and in the company of my children the knowledge of the most iconic natural areas of the Iberian Peninsula. I remember in ’92 when I first saw owls, I was so impressed that I decided to pursue the monitoring and study of this impressive raptor. That’s how I met my two good friends Jose Alfonso Lacalle naturalist and biologist and Mario León Ortega who performed his doctoral thesis on the ecology of the Eagle Owl in Mediterranean Ecosystems; the thesis took severl years of hard work. During this time I have worked in various censuses, biological studies and monitoring and so continued.

How did your interest in photography start?

Reading the stories in wildlife magazines and Natura Quercus, two of the most popular nature publications in the 80s, my interest and my concern translate into images the feelings of my experiences with birds. Taking advantage of the many trips in Spain and field trips of  my region, I bought my first camera and started to photograph the wildlife that past  infront of the lens, and so I continue to date.

What is your favorite group of bird?

Undoubtedly raptors.

Have you one in particular?

The Goshawk.

Any special reason why?

Because it is one of the most intriguing Iberian raptors and surely one of the most difficult to photograph. You can feel it but can not see it. No wonder Dr. Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente was called “The Pirate of the thicket” (The Pirate forest) …

What equipment do you use?

Previously used a Canon D300 with Sigma lens 100×300 and now I work with a Nikon D70 with lens incorporating Sigma EX 80×400 image stabilizer.

I know that you have an extensive collection of pictures, do you publish them anywhere?

In some public institutions I collaborate with, but the truth is that, considering that they dont have enough quality to appear in major publications, practically I only share with my friends and for my personal memories. Recently I am also working with the project Birding Association Southeast Murcia Live.

You are very humble in respect to the quality of your photographs. Do you collaborate them with some project or conservation partnership?

I have never belonged to any groups, I always like to go it alone, but I actively collaborate with the Departments of Toxicology and Ecology, University of Murcia, in the doctoral thesis on the ecology of the biologist, Mario Ortega (As I’ve already said before ) and environmental agenties of the Region of Murcia. In fact, just over a year ago I was awarded the Diploma of Honor and as Honorary Member of the Association of Environmental Agents in the Region of Murcia.
Usually I also do volunteer work for the Environmental Department of the Environment and collaborated with input data in several studies and surveys of regional wildlife.We do not stop!

Finaly the photo’s you have shared with us on this page, how did you collect them?

My aim is to show a simple example of the raptors that ply the sky’s of Murcia. During my free time I spend many long hours studying this field flock which has allowed me over the years to get more interesting catches. Some were made “on the fly”  with camera in hand while walking my natural territory in southeastern Murcia or on many of my travels around the peninsula, others were obtained from waiting in hides during long sessions for the various studies, biological monitoring, campaigns and institutional projects I’ve worked. Also in the vicinity of some of the best hunting grounds for the owls (hunting areas or foraging) I know. Of course, always respecting rigorously, all security protocols for birds and regulations. In the end, between long walks and many hours of waiting I have manage to collect these photo’s.

Interview by: J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)


The images that appear in this article are the property of Eloy Pérez is necessary to request permission to the author for publication or any other use of the same.