Wildlife Photography in La Mancha Húmeda‑Toledo – Spring Workshop
A surprising diversity of species in a private estate devoted to wildlife photography and conservation.
TRAVEL DATES: June 7-13, 2021
Other possible dates: May 24-30th.
TOUR BASED ON 8-12 GUESTS
Price per Person Double Room: $3,400.00
Single Room Supplement: $350.00
DESTINATION: Toledo province (center of Spain).
HIGHLIGHTS: Wildlife photography from hides combines all of the hides in the estate with floating hides for aquatic bird photography in the lagoon (this activity is available with a minimum water level in the wetland).
The price includes:
- Breakfast each day
- 6 lunches are served at El Taray
- 5 dinners at a local restaurant
- 6 days of activity, according to the program
- Including all the hides and hydro-hide sessions
- English-speaking photography guide throughout the tour
- Private transfers during the tour
- Mandatory activity insurance
Price does not include:
- Transfers from and to the airport. We can arrange this for you upon request.
- Accompanying guide in the transfers mentioned above
- Personal travel insurance
- Any service not specified in the section “the price includes”
This Wildlife Photo Workshop can be connected with the photography workshop in Cremenes combining completely different species with a total potential list of about 80‑100 species.
This Wildlife Photo Workshop tour can be adapted for intermediate and advanced photographers with no workshop. Contact us to arrange an Advanced Spring Bird and Wildlife Photography Tour of Central Spain.
Arrival at the accommodation in the morning. Afternoon in hide.
Accommodation and meals:
Charming Country Inns and Small Rural Hotels, All En Suite
B, L, D at the Inns or local restaurants
Spanish Imperial Eagle
Reed Warblers and Reedlings
Reed Warblers and Reedlings
Departure after the morning hide
The Wildlife Photo Workshop will focus on bird diversity in one of the most important and best-preserved wetlands in the center of Spain. A complete network of hides are available for photography of all the main species present at any season in the year, from the aquatic birds inhabiting both the open waters and the reedbeds around the lagoon system to the raptors and other birds linked both to the lagoon and the surrounding steppe areas.
Spring highlights for photography are the following:
- Raptors include the endemic Spanish Imperial Eagle (one pair breeding in the estate and possibly the most reliable hide for this species in the country at present), along with an impressive list of other birds of prey: Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Common Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel (hides in two different colonies) and Little Owl. Other possible raptors (Goshawk, and Bonelli’s Eagle) visit the feeders for raptors regularly.
- Reedbed passerines (Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Moustached Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Bearded Reedling, Yellow Wagtail,…).
- Grebes and wildfowl, including the White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Crested-Grebe, Red-Crested Pochard, Shelduck,… Floating hides allow the photography of a long list of aquatic species adding to the previous highlights, several terns (Black, Whiskered), Black-headed Gulls, herons and storks, flamingos, waders (Black-winged Stilt, and Avocet,…).
- Steppe birds such as the Stone Curlew, Red-legged Partridge, several species of larks (Crested and Thekla’s) and sparrows (including Tree, Rock, House, and Spanish), Hoopoe or the Roller (with several breeding pairs prepared for photography in different sets).
The second half of May and the first days of June are some of the best periods for wildlife photography at the lagoon. This is when most of the birds are involved in breeding, some of them still laying eggs, but others very busily feeding chicks at the nest. In accordance with this activity, all the available hides are active at this time of the year allowing for an incredible list of species for photography. Besides that, the lagoon reaches its highest level of water at this moment allowing the use of flotant hides (called hydro-hides) for bird photography from the wáter. This Wildlife Photo Workshop is done under the guidance of a specialist in a completely secure way both for the photographer and his equipment.
The daily routine consists of an early breakfast at the hotel, around 6:15-6:30 am, for a morning hide session until 11:30 or 12:00 pm. Lunch is served at a lovely place on the estate, prepared for rest at midday as we wait for the afternoon photo session from 16:00 to 20:30 pm. Dinner is taken in restaurants close to our accommodations in the village. Resting periods after meals will allow time to check the results of the day, talk about birds, photography, and identification and elaborate on a list of the species shot during the day. There will be a special night when we have dinner at the restaurant Las Musas in Campo de Criptana, a lovely place surrounded by the scenic windmills described in the famous ‘Don Quijote de La Mancha’ novel by Miguel De Cervantes.
All the hides are wide and comfortable structures for 2 people. They are, in general, small wooden and well-isolated constructions provided with high-quality glass windows for photography. All of them have been working for at least five years providing a very high success rate even with the most difficult species. The scene for photography is always a feeder or a breeding site integrated into the environment, so you achieve the feeling of watching a completely natural scene. Feeders are located 4-5 m away from the hide in most of the sites, except in the raptor hides, where the distance to the feeding place is a bit longer, between 8 and 12 m. Some of the photography places include mobile feeding structures or mobile hides that allow the photographer to decide the distance to the photography subject depending on the lens and the photographer’s equipment. At present, the hide network at the estate is composed of 30 hides plus 4 floating hides or hydro-hides. Clothes necessary for the use of hydro-hides (neoprene suit) are provided, and instruction in the use of the hide is facilitated before the first photo session, so no previous experience is required.
The best results are achieved, in general, using a full-frame camera and a 500 mm lens or an APS-C camera and a 100-400 mm zoom. Tripod is useful for better results but also to support the camera during long stays inside the hide. During the trip, there will also be some choices for landscape photography.
The wetlands are located in a Mediterranean area where May-June is usually a dry and sunny season. Temperatures may be cool in the morning but will rapidly rise to 25-30 Celsius degrees by midday or afternoon. So warm clothes are advisable for some moments, but T-shirts and shorts can be used most of the time. Dark clothes are advisable in any case for photography from hide. Thinking about the hydro-hide activity a tight swimsuit is the best option to wear under the neoprene.
Besides the hide-keepers, the trip will be led by an English-speaking local wildlife photographer (Javier Parrilla, wildlife photographer Olympus ambassador in Spain). This team will work together to guarantee the participants the best possible photography results from the trip. The guides will take final decisions on any matter during the trip, including those affecting safety and security or organization of the turns to use the hides. The program schedule may be altered to adjust to the results and photographers’ desires and prospects during the trip (photographers may desire to try several sessions in the same hide to improve their results or to try to get more species).