I start the New Year with a photo actually taken on the last day of 2016. Bob, Elena and I made a trip to Cabo de Gata hoping to see the Trumpeter Finch. We were lucky, there were twenty or more feeding on a grassy slope just below the Lighthouse. This is the only established breeding colony of this little species in mainland Europe. They are resident on the Canary Islands and across N. Africa into central Asia. It was a lifer for me and saw out the Old Year nicely.
Another January shot, the Crested Tit here came down to the picnic tables at the Alcazar Picnic site above Alcaucin. This is a very picturesque place and a favourite of ours for walking and birding. Elena put a few breadcrumbs out which attracted a lot of birds, probably because we were having a particularly cold spell and alternative food might have been hard to find for little insectivores.
A Yellow-billed Hornbill framed by ivy leaves in good light creates an excellent image. Taken in Kruger National Park it makes shot of the month for the composition and quality of the shot.
And an action shot from Kruger of a Wattled Starling parent preparing to feed a fledgling. This is one of a nice sequence and the eager young bird with that bright yellow gape makes it an interesting image, worthy of inclusion as another photo of the month for February.
February was a special month because of the trip to South Africa so I will include several of my favourite shots from the trip.. The Green Wood Hoopoes here are very beautiful in varying shades of purple, violet, green and copper with long bright red bills. There is something male/female going on here too which adds a little spice to the composition. Worthy of another shot of the month.
After South Africa I didn't do much birding in March. I had my fill in Kruger NP and was very busy with family matters. I did however manage a fairly decent shot of a Ferruginous Duck on the main lagoon at the Charca de Suarez. It's a very handsome specimen and the light was good, so it is satisfactory for shot of the month.
A trip to Morocco this month produced two good images. A nice male Marsh Harrier gathering nesting material over a small lake.......
Northern Morocco is the only place north of the Sahara Desert where it is possible to see the African Marsh Owl. This photograph was taken in the marshes of Merja Zerga, near the small town of Moulay Bousselham
A trip to the Tablas de Damiel National Park in la Mancha produced two images worthy of gallery inclusion. Savi's Warbler looks very much like a common Reed Warbler, but when you hear the song there is no doubting the identity. It is like a grasshopper or cricket but is continuous, no pauses for many minutes at a time.
The Bearded Tit, aka Bearded Reedling is another bird of the reedbed habitat. We were pleased to see them here at Tablas de Daimiel and to get a reasonable shot of a handsome male complete with long black moustaches.
A week at the Bird Observatory on the isle of May of the coast of Scotland yielded some interesting photos. Not least this shot of an Arctic Tern attacking me on a footpath near the nesting grounds. My usual 500 mm birding lens was useless in this situation as the subjects were so close. I used an ultra wide-angle 8 - 16 mm lens for this and other similar shots. The result is quite pleasing.