BIRDWATCHING TRIPS to MURCIA, SPAIN

 Flyer Autunm Trip 2014 (front-B)Banner Walking with WildlifeFlyer Spring Trip 2015 (front) B

Since 2012 WALKING WITH WILDLIFE is organizing, in collaboration with Birding Murcia, birdwatching tours to Murcia (SPAIN), a paradise for birders located in Iberian southeast; a biographical region full of raptors (Golden/Imperial Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Eagle Owl ). and other spectacular birds like Roller, Bee-eater, Oriole, Great Bustard and many other rarities. Great birds, great landscapes, great people and culture as well as hearty local food dishes and enviable weather.

 SPRING SPAIN BIRDING TOUR

(Sunday 17th – Saturday 23rd / May 2015)
 Poster Spring Trip 2015 (for web)

 Join us for an amazing trip to MURCIA SPAIN, taking into coastal mountains, steppe and wetland habitats where they can expect to see many raptors and breeding / resident and migratory birds.

THE TRIP CONSISTS OF:
· 4 FULL DAYS/2 HALF DAYS BIRDING
· SIX NIGHTS ACCOMMODATION BED AND BREAKFAST
· AIRPORT COLLECTION/DROP OFF
· FULL TRANSPORTATION FOR THE DURATION OF THE VISIT GUESTS
· SERVICES ALSO OF A TOUR LEADER, BIRD GUIDE AND DRIVER

· NOT INCLUDED ARE FLIGHTS, EVENING MEALS/LUNCHES/DRINKS, PERSONAL INSURANCE OR ITEMS OF A PERSONAL NATURE

Program Spring Trip 01

WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU AND ENJOYING THE BIRD LIFE OF SPAIN TOGETHER!

DOWNLOAD PROGRAMME HERE (PDF): Program Spring 2015

Please contact us here at WALKING WITH WILDLIFE for more information or at the tour leader email: mandy_west48@yahoo.com

BIRDS OF MURCIA. Photographs taken by our tour leader

TOUR LEADESilueta Mandy 01R MANDY WEST
Mandy is passionate about the natural world and has been a wildlife photographer for a number of years. Her images have been published in books, magazines and on websites. She also names travel as her other main passion, having been fortunate enough to visit many places in Asia, including India, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as places in the UK and Europe.
Mandy loves being out in wild places and is enthusiastic and enjoys sharing her love of photography and the natural world with others.
 More photos of Mandy here:
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Birding Autumn Tour with “Walking With Wildlife”

TRIP REPORT

(September 30-October 5) ORNITHOLOGICAL TOUR IN SOUTHEAST IBERIAN

LOCAL GUIDES: J. M. Escarabajal; Paul Sparkes

PARTICIPANTS: Mandy West, Steve Harford, Jean McKell, Paul Coombes and Cedric Coombes.

CHECKLIST (115):

Poster autumn Trip (for web)Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Gadwall , Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Black Kite, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk , Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Iberian Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby, Peregrine, Red-legged Partridge, Moorhen, Coot, Crested Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing , Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank , Redshank , Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Eagle Owl, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff , Firecrest, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Southern Grey Shrike,  Great Grey Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Raven, Jackdaw, Red-billed Chough, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill , Corn Bunting.

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Last year we had the pleasure to welcome Mandy West (tour leader in Walking With Wildlife) who visited our region for our ornithological tourism project and the potential for bird watching in the southeast Iberian. As a result of this first visit we organized a trip for 2013, Birdwatching and photography through the Region of Murcia and some of its neighboring provinces. Here we have the report of an interesting and busy week in southeast region of Spanish  with a group of British birders.

The first day, after picking up our guests at the airport we made our way to the rural accommodation “The Perez B & B,” a nice house in the middle of the countryside in the Campo de Cartagena, on the way stopping at a local bar for tapas and a cold beer! In the afternoon we had our first contact with some of the birds of Murcia (Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler …) and also in a lonely valley at sunset, with got to see an Eagle Owl.

The second day was pretty intense and helped us to meet the extensive Iberian steppes in the south of La Mancha, in an unknown place, where the plains are mixed with small and medium gaps. There you can see a number of different birds, both aquatic and steppe, and also the area is used by many raptors as hunting ground. Thus we enjoyed watching several species, such as Little Owl,  Great Bustard, Black-bellied sand grouse and pin tailed sand grouse, Stone curlew, Flamenco, White-headed duck, Black-necked Grebe and up to 8 different species of raptors, highlighting a small group of Black Kites and at the end of the afternoon, two juvenile Imperial Eagles and a magnificent specimen of Golden Eagle that flew over our heads for several minutes.

The third day it was the turn of wetlands, in a beautiful natural park near the Costa Blanca, where there is an abundance of waterfowl and, at this time of year, migration occurs and the start of the wintering of various birds of prey (this time, again, another 8 different species in a single day). The group was able to enjoy, despite the hot day with good observations, Squacco heron, Glossy Ibis,  Red-crested pochard, Osprey, Booted eagle, Southern grey Shrike, Little owl and Bee-eater, the later probably the stars of the day. A gastronomic delight  in a rustic restaurant where we enjoyed the excellent local cuisine was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

The fourth day was reserved to visit a colony of Griffon Vultures ( throughout the morning these flew close to the rock faces) in the interior mountains of southwest Murcia, an unknown area that retains some of the best and most lonely landscapes of this region, with a variety of habitats (forests, crags, rivers, canyons, plains, reservoirs) which allow the presence of a variety of birds. Herons, grebes, cormorants, larks, crows, raptors, small forest birds, shrikes, wheatear, woodpeckers and owls came out to greet us. For example, it was a good day to learn the differences between Crested and Thekla larks and to get good observations of the Black Wheatear. Again at sunset, we had a second meeting with the Eagle Owl.

The fifth day began with a visit to a saline steppe zone in the central sector of the Region of Murcia. Although we saw some interesting birds like the Hoopoe and Spectacled Warbler , the number of species was not abundant and decided to change our route to the mountains, rising in the east in search of the Crested tit , Steve’s favorite species, and also for other members of the group that had never observed it. Between spectacular peaks and dense forests of Pines , we went up through the pine forest where, in addition to our main goal ( the crested tit ) We could see other species, such as Common Treecreeper , Peregrine Falcon and Red-billed Chough … In the afternoon , after crossing , again , the salt steppes we observed lesser kestrels. We then headed to the coastal range in search of prey on migratory passage : Booted Eagle , Common Buzzard , Eurasian Hobby , Marsh Harrier and a great sunset over the cliffs and the Mediterranean Sea .

On the sixth and last day with time to devote half a day of birding we went to the saltpans around the Mar Menor (the largest salt lake in the Mediterranean). This was one of the days our guest appreciated the most for observing very closely several species of wading birds and other waterfowl which made a good  photographic oppertunity. Black-winged Stilt, Knot, Audouin’s Gull, Black-necked Grebe, Avocet, Redshank and the flight of the flamingos very impressive passing over our heads.

In short, a lovely and enthusiastic group, with a fun atmosphere and as warm as the good weather that accompanied us throughout the trip, we also enjoyed the delicious local cuisine, the breathtaking landscapes and birds as spectacular as the Golden Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Eagle Owl (up to 18 species of raptors), Great bustard,  Flamingo, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Little Owls and Crested tit.
Thanks for your visit and for your contribution to the protection of birds of southeastern Spain! We’re waiting for our friends at Walking With Wildlife for there next trip in spring!
(And thanks to our dear friends Rafa Torralba and Guillermo Garcia-Elder for there invaluable assistance).
Cheers guys!

Exploring Itineraries (Mar Menor – November 2013)

PHOTO ALBUM

08/11/2013 Exploring the Mar Menor area.

BirdingMurcia team is constantly working to prepare the best itineraries for ornithological tourism in southeastern Spain.

(Click to enlarge)

CHECK LIST (49 species)

Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant,Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moohen, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Monk Parakeet, Woodpigeon, Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Swalow, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Fan-tailed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet,

CHRIS VLACHOS

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

Birdphotography in Greece

From Greece, inspired by the Mediterranean Sea and the experience of 30 years of involvement in the conservation of birds, Chris Vlachos is ornithological tour guide and is dedicated to his true passion: the photography of birds, such as shown in this gallery.

Birdingmurcia - Chris Vlachos - Phoenicopterus ruber

Birdingmurcia - Chris Vlachos - Pelecanus onocrotalus

How do you start your passion for nature and wildlife photography?

I was always fascinated by wildlife and animals, especially  birds. As I had been working at Canon company for years, everything came in an natural flow! My observations have turned into imprintings  through my camera, at first  through slides and later on through my digital cameras.

At present you have a great collection of photos, do you remember your first photographic equipment and your first photos of birds? What equipment are you using now?

I started with a  AE-1 Canon camera with the 70-210mm (lense). My very first picture was a White Stork in flight. Today I have three contemporary digital camera bodies of Canon and almost the entire series of lenses of Canon. For bird photography I use the EF600mm, f/4 and the EF300mm, f/2.8.

Do you have any preference in the debate between the trademarks Canon or Nikon?

My photographic background originates from Canon, so I couldn’t  do otherwise but opt for this company- subjectively and objectively.

Have you any favorite bird? Why?

What I find fascinating are the Birds of prey. They are intelligent, difficult and every picture of theirs is unique, especially when in flight.

And, you have done several birding trips in Europe.. Is there any country you have enjoyed particularly for birdwatching?

I was captured by the light in Norway and Finnland, and by the variety found in Spain.

How and where you develop your activity as a guide for birdwatchers & birdphotographers?

Mostly in my country but also in other neighbour-to-Greece-countries. I guide people who are concerned both for bird watching and bird photography. The first one is my cup of tea, but the second one is what I  love doing.

What is the main origin of your groups? And what birds they require or prefer to watch?

I have chosen mainly my fellow people. However, there is considerable interest by  watchers or/and photographers from North European countries. They particularly want to meet the Mediterranean species or those appearing in Greece and coming from the East or Africa.

What is today the status of ornithological tourism in Greece?

It is continuously rising.

In a crisis like the current Is ecotourism an economic alternative?

It could be a smart, promising alternative.

After almost 30 years involved in the protection of birds as a member of HOS (Hellenic Ornithological Society); How has progressed the protection of birds in your country?

HOS has significantly contributed to the protection of birds and their habitat through European programmes and actions taken on behalf of HOS to communicate with little children. Nevertheless, more actions and continuous effort are required so that more positive results could be achieved.

Interview by J.M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)
The images that appear in this article are the property of Chris Vlachos; is necessary to request permission to the author for publication or any other use of the same.
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“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vivo) through the Project Birdingmurcia.

From plain to rocky hills.

BIRDING DAY – TRIP REPORT

GUIDES:  José Manuel Escarabajal & Paul Sparkes

PARTICIPANTS: C & B Hughes

CHECKLIST (50):

House Martin, Common Swift, Swallow, Black-winged Stilt, White-headed Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Coot, Serin, Spotless Starling, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Little Ringed Plover, Yellow-legged Gull, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Fan-tailed Warbler, Jackdaw, Roller, Kestrel, Magpie, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Spectacled Warbler, Corn Bunting, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark, Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Little Owl, Red-legged Partridge, Long-eared Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Golden Eagle, Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldenfinch, Red-rumped Swallow, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Sardinian Warble, Blackbird, House Sparrow. Eagle Owl.

Day trip:

Our day Started at 8.30, we collected our guests and made our way to the first site. The cloud cover was very low almost to the ground so we new there wouldn’t be a lot to see in the air for a while.  We parked the vehicle and walked for a few minutes to the lakes. In the first of the two lakes we viewed White headed duck, Little grebe and Pochard all keeping close to the canes at the edges of the lakes.  In the second lake were Black-winged stilts, Coots, Moorhen and again Little grebe. As we walked around the area a flock of 10 or more Night herons flow over our heads no more than 20 metres above and they kept circling for a few minutes, it was a great site!
We moved away from the lakes in the vehicle to our next stop, this area is home to many birds this time of year with the summer birds now arriving. As we made our way along the path we spotted Sardinian warblers also Jackdaw, Kestrel, Black-winged stilt, Green sandpiper, Little ringed plover and Little owl.  A bit further along the path we set up the scopes to get better views of the Kestrel and Jackdaw as they where nesting in the sandbanks, but the main attraction where a pair of Rollers sat on the top of the sand banks.
After a short walk we jumped back in the vehicle and drove around this vast steppe area, now the sun had burnt of the low cloud we made a stop by the roadside to view Spectacled warblers flitting about in the vegetation, the next sighting was a first for our guests in this area, a male Little bustard flighing past, as we watched it slow and finally stop in the vegetation  we put the scope on him to get a better view of the plumage, in doing so another past, then another.  Off we moved again but in only a few minutes we were back out of the vehicle as we had spotted a raptor in the sky above, after a quick look with the binoculars it was clear to see it was a Buzzard after a while we spotted another raptor, this time much bigger a Bonelli’s eagle subadult, this was great for our guests but not for the Buzzard who tried chasing off the Bonelli’s but with no luck! While driving around the steppe area we also viewed Chough,Crested and Calandra larks, Hoopoe, Corn bunting and Magpie.  We ended up close to where we had walked earlier but on the tops of the banks now, here we had a good view of another pair of Rollers sat on a cable, also close by a nest with three Long-eared owl chicks staring at us. We moved off quickly and quietly not to bother the chicks to our next quick stop, here we scaned the area and within two minutes a pair of Great spotted cuckoo turned up flew around from tree to tree then stopped together on the same branch and looked at us.
By now we where all hungry so we moved off to a traditional restaurant for some lunch. After we had eaten we made our way up the mountain in the vehicle, close to the top a Golden eagle flew over us with its massive wingspan. At the top we stopped to take-in the spectacular views, while we did a small flock of Bee-eaters circled over head and stopped on cables nearby. Further down the mountain on the other side we spotted  Kestrel, Green and Gold finch. At the next stop we viewed the mountains and trees here we spotted Pied flycatcher, Redstart, Serin and a possible sitting of a Crested tit from one of the guests.
As time was getting on we made a slow trip back to our guests house on the way spotting finches, larks and warblers and an Eagle Owl on a nearby rocky as last surprise of the tour.. A great day was had by all!

We would like to thank our guest for their company and welcome them back soon.

Jose and Paul

PASCHALIS DOUGALIS

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

” Bonelli’s Eagles…

We have had the immense pleasure of interviewing Dougalis Paschalis, self-taught artist of Greek origin and resident in Munich especially interested in Europeans birds and mammals, who today is probably one of the best illustrators of birds of Europe.. It is an honor to enjoy his kind collaboration and also enjoy the wonderful and amazing illustrations of this extraordinary wildlife artist. Ladies and gentlemen with all of you … ¡Paschalis Dougalis!

© Paschalis Dougalis

JME:  In the first place we want to thank you that you’ve agreed to share your illustrations of Bonelli’s Eagles with us..

What is the current population status of the species in Greece? Does working the authorities in their protection?

After the Greek Ornithological Society, the current population is estimated at 120 pairs, although there is no current data available. Consequently ,there is no official census regarding the population of the species except of regional actions, just like on Crete for example, where a constant population of 12-15 pairs regularly breeding. As I already wrote before, the rest of the population is dispersed on various islands mainly on Cyclades, Dodecanese and few pairs on Peloponese. Though it is declared as a protected species from the greek law, the reality is that they are not protected at all. Fortunately, because of the geographic mosaic of the country with thousands of Islands and Islets, many pairs breeding in isolated remote areas with minimal human disturbance. This is the main reason to me that this species still survives in Greece

JME: I have worked very closely with the Bonelli’s eagles, and I can affirm that, the precision with which you capture the traits of their behavior is amazing How do you get it and why Boneli’s eagles illustrations have much presence in your catalog?

I`m afraid that I can`t explain that properly, why I became amazed since I saw them for the first time, and this excitement has transformed into a deep admiration. I`ve been watching, sketching, and painting them for the last 12 years now, and I would claim that there is no other species that I know so well. Meanwhile has been created a kind of a personal relationship. I feel these birds so close to me since I had the chance to experience first-hand their family life.

JME: Any idea or proposal you consider essential for the conservation of the Bonelli’s Eagles?

To me, the most important thing is the environmental education, not only for the new generations to become aware of the wonders living out there, but also to approach farmers, hunters and people who are spending time in nature trying to “awake” in them the fascination about this raptor. Direct persecution will be always a problem , but trying to reduce this and other threats , (wind turbines for example )to a minimum  as well trying to guard well known nests during breeding period could be a huge step forwards in case species protection & conservation.

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…and other stories”

© Paschalis Dougalis

JME: Since when you develop your artistic ability and as you become a professional in the illustration of the nature? Are there any event that has been a determining factor in your career?

According to my parents I took a pencil and start sketching a rooster when I was four years old. I never stop ever since.. It was 1995 when I`ve been commissioned to illustrate a series on endangered species in Greece. Two years before in 1993, I had my first solo exhibition in my home town in Greece with birds and animals of the region. But the turning point in my career was first to buy a book illustrated by Carl Brenders in 1995, followed by the Lars Jonsson`s bird guide, and “The art of Robert Bateman” in 1996. I realized then very well the importance of fieldwork and that I had a long way to go. These three books helped me to change the way I was looking at things.

JME: Make all the illustrations for the modern edition of a classic of the identification guides such as “Birds of Europe (European Bird Guide)” next to the author Peter H. Barthel, in addition to assume a huge effort, must be a challenge isn’t it?

It was more than a challenge! Having to illustrate all the European species in various plumages within two years was a huge undertaking which has been a very hard test for me mentally and physically. The biggest problems for me were the tight deadlines.

JME: What characteristics must have a good field guide?551778_460370647357025_934328603_n

First of all accurate drawings, natural poses, avoiding showing details not really visible in the field, presenting the  species as they look like from a certain distance and pay attention on their most important ID features.

 JME: And what are the key features that must have a good illustrator of birds and a good illustration?

He must be a good artist who knows his subject and medium very well, and because such books require cooperation of more people, should have the willingness to learn and have always his eyes and ears open. These two years have been despite the pressure a valuable time of learning and improving my illustration style.. Finally, a good illustration should have all the features already mentioned answering the former question (3) in order to fulfil the needs of the certain guide.

JME: What are you trying to capture in your pictures of animals?

I`ve been asked often to answer similar questions and it is easy to say that my aim is not just to portray an average image of a species but the particular individual, I`m drawing at that moment. And if I managed to complete an alive, very similar to the “model” drawing, that satisfies me most!

 JAS: As we look through facebook, your production work is really impressive, how much time do you dedicate to painting / drawing a day?

To be honest I never counting the hours I`m  ́working a day, they are just countless particularly at times when a commission has to be delivered soon and the pressure is exceptionally high.

JAS: What is your “modus operandi” to start a new painting?

It`s always different. But the common within is the source of inspiration. I’m looking for interesting postures or behaviour, browsing through sketchbooks or videos and trying to create a believable situation. On the other hand in case of a commission after an intense research I`m preparing a series of Bic pen preliminary sketches or even a small watercolour in order to show them first to the client.

JME: Acrylic, watercolor, gouache, sketches … You work many different techniques, with which do you feel more comfortable? What is the most appropriate to draw birds?

Meanwhile after years of drawing and painting I wouldn`t prefer a medium as my favorite but I would say that rather every medium has been adapted to every single situation. Bic pen, watercolours, mainly in use while working outdoors or in case of Illustrations, Gouache for Illustrations and paintings, and Acrylics solely for Paintings.

JAS: The Bic pen is one of your most usual techniques in drawing, do you feel comfortable with a technique in which errors can not be corrected?

Absolutely! Looking for a cheap medium to work outdoors and because I found out that sharpening of pencils-coloured pencils is time consuming, I`ve tested many pens of various brands and the Bic pen with the fine tip fulfilled my expectations. After 15 years of sketching with it is a matter of training that eliminates the possible mistakes.

JAS: What has been the place, by moisture, discomfort, danger, heat, cold, etc … where you found more difficult to paint?

I recall my first encounter with the Bonelli’s eagles in late March of 2001. Hidden in a camouflaged tent up at the edge of a cliff I`ve been surprised by a heavy rainstorm. For almost two hours I was “battling” against the wind and rain trying to protect my equipment and materials from getting wet. Last year on a hot May day at Saltmarshes of Korinos (Northern Greece), while sketching Collared pratincoles, and though the birds were absolutely cooperative, the wind start getting stronger and various insects, including countless mosquitos came from the open windows into the car and attacked me again and again .The “torture” lasted almost three hours at that hot day but the willingness to come to an successful result was stronger.

JAS: What drives you to draw above all animals and not other elements such as architecture, people, etc…?

Though animals-birds dominate my artwork now, there have been periods in my life where people faces were the main subject of my interest. On the other hand I`ve been always surrounded by animals, domestic first, since I grew up in a village and they were always there. The excitement about wildlife grew rapidly when I bought my first animal book with fantastic illustrations of Robert Dallet . I presume that there are the myriads of life forms , colours, shapes, behaviours, different environment types that excites me most , and I`m sure that I will never get bored or tired sketching and painting nature.

© Paschalis Dougalis

JME: Do you feel predilection for drawing some group or species of birds in particular?

Oh, yes! They are the raptors first, followed by Larks and Galliformes. I guess, I don`t have to explain why I feel so fascinated by raptors!

 JAS: Who are the artists that have influenced your work as an artist of nature?

They are so many that it’s impossible to name all of them. But I recall the first encounters with work of Robert Dallet, Carl Brenders, Lars Jonsson, Robert Bateman, Ray Harris Ching , Bob Kuhn, Keith Brockie, Vadim Gorbatov and Ian Lewington, fantastic artists and Illustrators all of them…

JME: Books about animals, posters and information material for LIFE projects, bird guides, monographs, exhibitions, countless paintings and illustrations … and several awards: What do you think has been your most notable work or you feel especially satisfied and how it can purchase your work?

First came the awards, in Britain and Germany, and then the commisions. Definitely , the European Bird guide, has been the most important project for my career as an Illustrator, ,because since then my work has been widely known, but it is the forthcoming Breeding Bird Atlas of Germany I enjoyed most. Check out:
http://stiftung-vogelmonitoring.de/index.php?cat=yourhelp&subcat=spons_adebar&subsubcat=gesamt
Every one can purchase or order an artwork by contacting me directly via E-Mail.

JME: From our point of view and from many other birdwatchers and illustrators your work has achieved a great prestige and recognition do you feel lucky that you can enjoy professionally to your passion?

I feel lucky having found my own way and I know well that despite any kind of recognition there is no time to lie back and enjoy a possible professional success. To be a professional Artist-Illustrator means to me a life long dedication, hard work, and trying to improve my abilities day by day. And because you mentioned recognition I feel that there were the fellow artists across Europe who contributed to this, with their excitment about art and sensibilty . In this point I would like to thank in particular the Spanish nature artists for their support and friendship along the way.

Interview by: José Manuel Escarabajal & José Antonio Sencianes

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The images that appear in this article are the property of Dougalis Paschalis is necessary to request permission to the author for publication or any other use of the same.
“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vivo) through the Project Birdingmurcia

SUDHIR GARG

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

“Birding pictures from Western India”

The region of Rajasthan in Western India is an ideal place to practice bird watching. Sudhir Garg, basically a nature lover photographer interested in bird photography, as he describes himself, offers us an excellent example of ornithological wealth of this area.

Recent added:

The gallery:

© Sudhir Garg

You have an extensive collection of pictures. How did began your passion for bird photography? You make this activity professionally or just as an amateur?

I m a golf player playing golf for last 10 years at various courses. During playing golf I found that all the golf courses are good habitat place for various kinds of birds as the grounds are comparatively safe place for breeding, nesting with lots of trees and pollution free atmosphere without lots of traffic and human presence. That developed my interest into birds and later into bird photography…!!

What equipment do you use to get your pictures?

Right  now i m using Nikon D 80 Camera and Nikon 18- 135 mm, Sigma 70-300 mm and 150-500 mm Lens.

Is there a group of birds or species in particular that awaken your interest?

Nothing like that, all type of birds interest me equally.. though colourful birds and big raptors are always seek ur attention more.!!

Where can we find more photographic work such as this that we show in this story?

It can be seen at following links..
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1786347894839.2095406.1123778632&type=3
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.3073359149316.2128579.1123778632&type=3
http://500px.com/SudhirGarg

I think you’ve got some prizes with your photos, is there any especially important to you?

Not participated so far… My photo just won 2 ‘Best of the Day’ awards on Pixoto.com!http://www.pixoto.com/sudhirggarg/recent

Do you collaborate with any conservationist association or some bird club?

Few of them  from time to time as and when need arises.

Is there a great passion for birdwatching and wildlife photography among the population of India? How people perceive in your country nature conservation?

India is one of the best in world over for bird watching, availability of varieties of species and wild life conservation.

As a resident in a country that receives large numbers of tourists think the ornithological tourism is a good resource for bird conservation?

Certainly… it is quite a big resource

In a country as exotic as India, with a nature so exuberant and with presence of a fauna composed of big mammals and reptiles such as tigers, rhinos, elephants, crocodiles …. how can one be decided by the birds?

India is more than that, full of nature, heritage, religious and historic monuments, snow covered mountains, green valley’s with waterfalls.. still huge no of diff species of birds. About 14% of birds all over the bird are in India. Due to religious values birds are not killed and eaten here like in most of other Asian and western countries and for most of the migratory birds India is favourite attracting them from thousands of miles.. That’s why they are still available and growing and breeding in India. Birds are quite innocent, easily accessible and the number of varieties with beautiful colours and action I like photographing them then other animals and reptiles.

How and why born the idea of promoting an International Birding Group on Facebook like BIRDING FRIENDS?

Regarding that Birding group .. it was some accidental .. I had only 2/3 Birding friends with me on my Facebook group. I just wanted to separate them from my other FB members.. so I casually tied to separate these Ids from other and give the casual name Birding Frnds… and then later I realised that I have opened a group… them some more members showed interest.. keep adding them and later formalised all the rules and regulations. Now the total number touching to 4000 app and everyday lots of new members keep adding on. The specificity is all Indian as well as international birds and members are accepted. In case of one other popular group bird pics from Indian subcontinent is allowed only…

Interview by J.M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)
The images that appear in this article are the property of Sudhir Garg is necessary to request permission to the author for publication or any other use of the same.
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“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vive) through the Project Birdingmurcia.

GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE (Aquila clanga) EL HONDO

TRIP REPORT

“On the path of Greater Spotted Eagle”

Over de past Wednesday 9th and 16th january 2013 a team of Birding Murcia visited the Natural Park of El Hondo, in Alicante, to try to photograph Tönn, a Spotted Eagle marked and followed by satellite using GPS transmitter that, for several years, migrated from Estonia to Iberian southeast to pass the winter. On the first day we could only photograph another Spotted Eeagle  accompanying Tonn on his journey but the second day, we were able to achieve our goal. In the following testimonial images of Santiago Carrasco, you can see the result of our sampling with which we want collaborate in this project of internacional scale.

OBSERVERS: Santiago Carrasco, Javier Coll and Jose Manuel  Escarabajal.

DAY 1 (9th January 2013)

CHECKLIST (60)

Cattle Egret, Jackdaw, Yellow-legged Gull, Green Woodpecker, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Great Grey Shrike, Ratonero Común  Buzzard, Chiffchaff, Snipe, Stone Curlew, Spoonbill, Water Rail, Shelduck, Coot, Cuchara Europeo Shoveler, Porrón Europeo Pochard, Cerceta Común Teal, Mallar), White-headed Duck, Pintail, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Booted Eagle, Glossy Ibis, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Kingfisher, Purple Gallinule, Osprey, Great Spotted Eagle, Moorhen, Reed Bunting, Crag Martin, Robin, Kestrel, Spotless Starling, Serin, Black Redstar, Woodpigeon, White Wagtail, Stonechat, White Stork, Redstar, Golden Plover, Starling, Linnet, Greenfinch. Meadow Pipit, Southern Grey Shrike, Green Sandpiper, Bluethroat, Crane.

(Coming soon we will expand information)

NITIN BHARDWAJ

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

“Feathered Friends”

“I started photography about 4 years back with wildlife as my major interest. With passing time I found myself slowly divulging towards birds due to their variety and also their behavior portrayal. I am sharing with you some of the unique moments nature has shared with me. Hope you all enjoy it.”

© Nitin Bhardwaj

Since when you are naturalist and photographer of the wildlife.

I started Bird Photography in 2008. It was largely a hobby which later became a full fledged interest.

Do you work at this professionally or are you involved in some project or conservation association?

I have contributed a few images to Wildlife Journals and Articles but in time I would open my horizons to professionally generate awareness about our wonderful Flora and Fauna through outdoor education programs.Currently I am involved in capturing species for Photo Records for WWF field office Ladakh.

For as spectacular photographs, what equipment are you using regularly?

I Shoot Nikon. Body- D-4 and D-7000. Lens-600 mm F4 / 70-200 mm F2.8 along with Tele Zooms like 150-500 mm and a 70-300 mm. A flash SB-910 and 1.7 X TC. More in my Bag is a Nikon D-60 and DX lens 18-135 mm.

In general terms; what show and where were taken the images that you are showing us in this gallery?

These images have largely been recorded from the Indian Sub Continent.This would include the High Alpine Desert Ladakh and Spiti in northern India. Central and Western India as well have been of core interest.

A question that you’ve heard repeated many times:: how do you manage to get closer to the animals and get so good pictures?

The key to good frames is the patience factor. Along with this you need to supplement yourselves with good hides or Suits that help you merge with the surroundings.It is always good to know the subject you are after on that shoot since that will help you identify the habitat and produce better results.

You also have amazing pictures of large mammals such as tigers or leopards Do you feel more attraction to these animals or you prefer the birds?

In my opinion each species is inter related hence I do not differentiate among the inhabitants of the wild.I am very liberal when a subject is provided to me irrespective if it is a mammal or a Bird or a reptile.Each of these beings play a crucial part in the Food Chain therefore observation of this complex chain needs to be complete. As someday you could find a Jungle cat or a Caracal hunting Fowl or someday it could be a Bonellis Eagle charging a Hare.

India is a country with an exuberant nature and an important cultural legacy but … What remains to be done in terms of environmental protection?

India being a sub continent in itself bears the brunt of many a ineffective policies. Ineffective Garbage disposal,Industrialization,Population boom and clouded ethical beliefs have taken deep roots.Modern architecture does not cater for nests for the birds which earlier dwelled near human settlements hence the Common House sparrow the state bird of Delhi has almost vanished from here.Urban Landscape,Pesticides and monoculture are biggest offenders to the avifauna of this region.

In one of the most important tourist destinations of the world such as India what is the place of birdwatching?

Indian has its own share of Resident Birds and Migratory Birds.There have been unto 1200-1300 recorded species here. Important destinations would vary from season to season. Summers could be ideal for the Northern ranges i.e HImalayas while Winters could be more inclined towards North East and South. It is very important to know what BIrds you would like to spot and then follow the pattern of there ranges.

Do you think that the observation of birds can be a good tool for environmental education and to eliminate differences among people?

Observing birds is a very essential tool in environmental education. Just by the virtue of seed dispersal they complete the most essential phase of the Food Chain. In places like Rajasthan in India the Lesser Florican is instrumental in eating the painted Grasshopper which is a pest for the Local Farmers.
Since Bird watching is a Team sport which involves many key instincts to be utilized in the  field it helps bonding among members.Some member hear the bird earlier than the rest while some may spot it earlier than others.Hence this mutual effort stems up the key factors to generate bonding among individuals.

Interview by J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia / Sureste Vivo)

YOU CAN CONTACT OR VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK OF NITIN BHARDWAJ ON:

https://www.facebook.com/nitin.bhardwaj.98499/photos_stream

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ll images are subject to Copyright@Nitin Bhardwaj and may not be used in any form of media or publication before prior permission.

“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vive) through the Project Birdingmurcia.

RENE DE HEER

BIRDERS AROUND THE WORLD

“Bird photography by Rene de Heer”

Birdingmurcia - Rene de Heer

Rene de Heer is a Dutch resident in the UK, passionate and dedicated to bird photography for over 25 years visiting many places and countries looking for great images. His work has been shown in several publications and now we are lucky to share a small sample of his excellent work through this series of images taken between Scandinavia, Netherlands and Hungary.

© Rene de Heer
After more than 25 years photographing birds, still remember your beginnings?

Yes i do remember the beginning very well. I started of as a birdwatcher but quickly became interested in bird photography. Started off with a Novoflex long lens system and did my own darkroom work. My parents have a house in a very nice wetland area up north in Holland. I spent a lot of time there with my camera and lenses trying to photograph the bird species there.

 With your experience, you must be very demanding for choosing photographic equipment. Which one are you using?

I currently use Canon 1DX and 5D Mark3 bodies with Canon lenses up to 600mm. Camera equipment evolves quickly. What i like about the new long Canon lenses is the reduced weight. For me it makes a difference when carrying my camera and lenses around.

Do you prefer use skins for your photo sessions or walking hand-held camera?

I am not an opportunistic photographer anymore. When i lived in the Netherlands, i did drive around the polders in the hope of coming across a willing bird. Since i have moved to the United Kingdom things have changed. I find photographing birds in the UK far more challenging then in the Netherlands. Often you have to drive far to get to a good spot to photograph birds.

In the UK you need more of a plan. Although there are some good spots not far from where i live to photograph Red Kites or Little grebes. Most of my photography is in “bursts”. I have a very busy job in the City, so i intend to go on a few trips a year to various countries to photograph birds. For example in March i will be in the Varangerfjord for a week to photograph the wintering

King eiders and Stellar eiders and in June i will be going to Romenia, the Danubia delta to photograph waterfowl.

Even if you’ve visited several countries in your photo expeditions, why do you like both Finland and Scandinavia for photographing birds in winter?

My love of Scandinavia (Finland) goes back a long time. One of my favourite bird photographers is Hannu Hautala. I was lucky to meet him and his book ” a year in Kuusamo” triggered my interest in Finland. I have been there many times, and always in the winter. I like the vastness of the country, the empty spaces and the solitude. Birds are scarce but the birds that are there are fantastic like Pygmy owl, Great Grey owl and Siberian tit.

It will always be my greatest love for bird photography.

 Our readers would like to hear some of your favorite birds and why?

I have many favourite birds but if i have to mention 1 or 2 , it must the Pygmy owl and the Siberian tit. The Pygmy owl because it is so small and manages to survive the hardest Finnish winters. The Siberian tit because it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful, of all tits. Especially in the winter.

 During the 25 years you’ve been photographing nature there are any trip that you consider as memorable and that especially impressed you?

One of the most memorable trips was a trip to Olanka National Park on the Finnish/Russian border. I spent a whole day in the eagle hide and absolutely nothing happened for most of the day. The light was already fading when i spotted an eagle and a second later a second eagle swooped by. All of a sudden the female Golden eagle landed in the snow followed by the male and they mated in front of me. It is one of my most published images and something i will never forget. It shows that you need a lot of persistence and patience when it comes to bird photography. At the end it pays off!

Your photographic work has been widely spread through magazines, calendars and successful exhibitions. Is there any publication that you feel particularly proud of?

2 years ago i had a large exhibition in the City centre of Amsterdam in one of the largest bookstores. It was well visited and my bird images were used as a theme for the annual ‘Kinderboeken week”. I was very proud of that. My bird images have also been used for the annual corporate Christmas card for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom.

 Is it possible to get your graphic work somehow?

Yes it is possible to get prints through my website www.naturepics.co.uk. Some of the printing i do myself on a widebody A2 Epson printer.

 What objectives you propose to as the founder of one of the first Dutch Nature Photography Societies?

Nowadays there are many bird/nature photographers. Most can afford the expensive equipment, have time and money to spend on trips. The playing field gets smaller and smaller and to be honest; there are many good photographers around. As a founder of a Nature Photography Society it is important to have some ground rules. Pictures of birds by a nest are a thing of the past. Personally i also don’t like pictures of birds with food in their beaks. Those pictures are obviously taken not far from a nesting site. Another thing that always surprises me ,and i have come across this regularly, is the lack of any kind of knowledge about the species one takes a picture off! Not so long ago i met up with a photographer who didn’t even know the difference between a Kestrel and a Peregrine falcon. These are not naturalists but just boys with expensive toys in my book! 

 What is the secret to getting so excellent pictures?

The secret of a great image is patience and knowing your subject. Unfortunately i do not have enough time to spend in the field but through all the years i know when i photograph birds what to expect. i also often have a picture in my head of what kind of picture i would like to take. More often then not: it doesn’t work out that way, but you have to keep on trying!

Interview by J. M. Escarabajal (Birding Murcia)

YOU CAN CONTACT OR VIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK OF RENE DE HEER ON:

www.naturepics.co.uk
www.facebook.com/renenaturepics
Twitter; @renenaturepics

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© 1999 – 2013 Rene de Heer – Dutch Nature Photographer

“Birders Around The World” is an idea promoted by the Association Southeast Alive (Sureste Vive) through the Project Birdingmurcia.