Bird photography in Spain: Sandgrouse and rock thrushes
A return trip for more bird photography in Spain just a few weeks after our previous trip for Bonelli’s and golden eagle and, though not quite as successful, we got some great species under the belt. I was disappointed to miss out on my target species, Montague’s harrier, but my hopes were raised with the possibility of photographing hobby only to be dashed when this also turned out to be a no go. As well as Montague’s harrier, the other key target bird for me were the sandgrouse, both black-belled and pin-tailed. I’ve only ever seen black-bellied before and also once, a long time ago in the days of film, I photographed Lichtenstein’s sandgrouse in Israel, so I was really looking forward to getting to grips with these birds. The pin-tailed sandgrouse was just exquisite with beautiful colours and markings that shimmered in the early morning light. Around 20 pin-tailed sandgrouse came to the pool but only two individual black-bellied turned up though luckily for me there was one male and one female so I managed both sexes.
We hit the Pyrenees for griffon vulture and lammergeier which came very readily to bait and we were fortunate to get a single Egyptian vulture, beautifully backlit as it dropped rapidly out of the sky and timidly attempted to feed amongst the many. much larger, griffon vultures. While we were in the higher areas, we managed to photograph the stunningly beautiful rufous-tailed rock and blue rock thrush as well as black-eared wheatear but our attempts at citril finch were severely hampered by bad weather. There were several other good highlights including ortolan and cirl bunting, woodchat shrike, rock sparrow and an amazing encounter with a very bold nightingale.
The following images are just a selection of some of the birds photographed on this five day trip around Catalonia.