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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 Sep 9, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 6 comments

Otter: Early evening hunting

Otter: Early evening hunting

The summer months have proved a frustrating time for watching otters.  The river is busy and although we’ve tried several quieter areas, it’s been unsuccessful – no sightings, no tracks, no spraint. However, we’ve been active lately with fantastic mammal observations – including wolves, deer and wild cats. But September is upon us again and time to swap last weeks high mountain excursions and return the river with new places and renewed enthusiasm for watching the otters. This week we explored a new section of our usual river, a short drive from home.  As we walked a 2 kilometre stretch of the river, it dawned upon us this was potentially a great area to watch otters. Quiet but accessible with a low level path, we were excited but kicking ourselves for not discovering it before. And just 5 minutes after settling on the riverbank – an otter appeared. Large and clambering over the rocks, it appeared to be covering every inch of the small pools that were adjacent to...

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Posted on Sep 8, 2013 in Blog, Places | 0 comments

Asturian Landscapes in Slow motion

Asturian Landscapes in Slow motion

Sunset – Shooting towards the Asturian coastline in the area of Colunga. The beaches of Espasa and La Isla in the foreground.   El Mirador del Fito – is an excellent viewpoint for the coastline of Ribadesella & Colunga, as well as the landscapes of Picos de Europa. It’s the starting point for many walks over the El Sueve mountain range or a good place to simply stand and stare. We visit quite often and have experienced some marvelous sunrises and sunsets. Previous post here – Early Morning Light in Asturias – Part I Early Morning Light in Asturias – Part II Over the past week we have been “experimenting” with some new techniques to capture these views – more abstract, combining longer shutter speeds with intentional camera movement (in the photos below, panning from left to right). As a result I’ve learnt about the workings of the camera as well the creative process.   Sunset – This time slightly inland encompassing the low slopes of El Sueve mountain range....

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Posted on Jun 4, 2013 in Blog, Wildlife | 1 comment

The Cantabrian brown bear in the forests of Asturias

The Cantabrian brown bear in the forests of Asturias

There are wild, free living bears in Asturias.   To glimpse a bear or even to walk through the same valleys, forests, mountains is something special.  May and June are the optimal months for watching them as they feed amongst the fresh green pastures.  With the recent bad weather, we were running late and it was time for action.  We set off to western Asturias for a long and busy weekend, leaving our lodgings early each morning and not returning until late. Incredibly, we were rewarded on our first evening after walking along a well defined track and waiting patiently with views of the forest covered slopes.  However, the changeable weather continued to haunt us, drizzle, mist and still chilly.  At one point the entire valley was enveloped in mist and our chances, already so slim, now looked more gloomy than the weather. Fortunately, we waited a little longer and got a lucky break – the fog cleared enough to see a large dark mammal – our first brown bear...

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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 28, 2013 in Blog, Places | 0 comments

Hidden Gems of Asturias III – Playa de Gueirúa

Hidden Gems of Asturias III – Playa de Gueirúa

Our last post from a long weekend visiting the coastline in western Asturias. We chose 5 sites and in the end managed to have good sessions at 3. All were special but I think the Playa de Gueirúa came out on top, if only for the variety of photographic opportunities. Dramatic rocks formations, high cliffs, strong seas and fascinating rock pools. Beyond Gueirúa is the Playa de Silencio, another superb beach and definitely worthy of a trip. We were a little unlucky with a virtually cloudless sky at sunset and being first time visitors we didn’t know quite what to expect. It’s certainly a race against time with the fading light and as always, you need to prioritise. I’m looking forward to a return trip. We decided to check out the area in the morning rather than arrive unprepared. Looked exciting. Beautiful beach with a waterfall, what more could you ask for? I was glad to have opted to wear walking boots. Balancing on wet rocks can be tricky....

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