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Posted on Sep 14, 2013 in Birds, Blog | 2 comments

Riverside: Young Swallows

Riverside: Young Swallows

As we walked towards the section of the river for observing the otters, we got distracted. A couple of swallow chicks were perched close by on the riverbank. Normally, they fly off as soon as you approach, but these two held steady. Both parents were busy flying sorties over the river surface, catching insects to bring back for their young. I was lucky with the light, the last beam sun shone through on to the branch perfectly, illuminating the birds and darkening the background. It became fairly easy to predict when an adult was about to return – as the motionless young suddenly and frantically begging with wide gaping mouths a few seconds before their arrival. The speed in which the adult entered was impressive and difficult to capture – handheld, low light, no use of flash. Only during processing this images did I realise just how precisely they place the food in the young’s mouth. – John All Rights Reserved – © John Shackleton – Wild Asturias Share...

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Posted on May 22, 2013 in Birds, Blog | 5 comments

The Hobby

The Hobby

We took a short weekend away to explore several rivers. Río Nansa (Cantabria), Río Deva & Rio Cares. The weather wasn’t kind to us. The route was muddy but we still managed a 15 km walk and only saw rain for an hour. However, the river was high and murky, not the best for photography or wildlife watching. A pair of Hobbies saved the day and entertained us the next morning as well.  They performed well and were not put off as I slipped off a large rock and fell down the riverbank.  I saved the camera but got a sprained wrist and bruises.  Less painful than a new lens. A Hobby (Falco subbuteo) hunting for large insects including dragonflies.  When successful it transfers the prey from talons to beak whilst still in flight. During the 2 hours we watched it returned to the same perch after each flight. A powerful and acrobatic flight, gliding low over the water and then turning upwards to loop back for another pass. The Hobby passing...

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Posted on Apr 4, 2013 in Birds, Blog | 0 comments

‘Aquila’ The Spanish Imperial Eagle – An iPad app from Andoni Canela

‘Aquila’ The Spanish Imperial Eagle – An iPad app from Andoni Canela

Time for something different … a review. I’ve been following the work of Andoni Canela since discovering his book ‘The Cantabrian Bear’ (El Oso Cantábrico), whilst we were visiting the region of Somiedo in Asturias, 3 or 4 years ago. Andoni has now produced an App for the iPad to accompany a hardcover book about Spanish Imperial Eagle. It’s a 2 year project dedicated to telling the story of one of the most endangered eagle species in the world. The main section of the ‘Aquila’ App is neatly divided into the 4 seasons displaying a multitude of different photos – shots at the nest, in flight, hunting and behaviour. There’s also further sections explaining general ecology of the Imperial eagle and it’s habitat within the Iberian Peninsular. The App contains over 200 photos, with additional information panels, notes and an interactive story for children. Also used to great effect, are sound clips accompanying many of the photos (eagle’s calling and local sounds to its surrounding environment etc.). The personal...

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Posted on Jan 10, 2013 in Birds, Blog | 2 comments

Birds over the holiday

Birds over the holiday

We managed to take advantage of free time over the Christmas break and traveled to a few places in Asturias which we haven’t yet visited. Here are few pictures from just outside Gijon, Cabo Peñas, Punta de la vaca in Luanco as well as Arriondas and Ribadesella. Belinda at Cabo Peñas, the most northerly point in Spain. Good views of Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills At Punta de la Vaca, just outside Luanco Belinda on the cliff near Parque Moniellos, Luanco A Snipe in Arriondas, Asturias A Sandiper along the Paseo de Vencedores in Ribadesella, Asturias Mallards along the Paseo de Vencedores in Ribadesella, Asturias A Firecrest in Arriondas, Asturias A Black Redstart near the Cueva Tito Bustillo in Ribadesella, Asturias A Great Northern Diver in the port of Ribadesella, Asturias Share...

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Posted on Dec 16, 2012 in Birds, Blog | 3 comments

Black Woodpecker

Black Woodpecker

12-12-2012 – The day we finally saw a Black Woodpecker. It seems like its been forever. We’ve spent many days walking in forests in search of the Black woodpecker.  We’ve gone armed with maps and directions scribbled on scraps of paper for various ‘hot spots’ from local experts.  We’ve set off on each outing optimistic, informed of the latest sightings, but alas no luck. This week our losing streak finally ended! During our daily walk along the Río Piloña, a few minutes from home, it suddenly appeared, a Black Woodpecker. We watched for 15 minutes as it hammered on a dead tree besides the riverbank, dropping bark and wood into the water as it chiseled away. As it flew off deeper into the woodland, we were given a further treat with the sound of its distinctive screech-like call. Quite a bird and well worth the wait. Hopefully this will be the first of many to come. UPDATE!  20-12-2012 We watched the Black Woodpecker again for 20 minutes on various trees.  A noisy bird...

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Posted on Dec 15, 2012 in Birds, Blog | 3 comments

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

On the drive back home we spotted a flock of 12 Cattle Egrets feeding in a field close to the village of Argüerín between Villaviciosa and Gijón. They are normally a very nervous bird but fortunately for us a high stonewall surrounding the field gave them some extra confidence. We managed to watch them for 15 minutes, shooting from the car window. Share...

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