Monday, June 18, 2012

Albino Stonechat - Major rarity, Major find!

Quote "Our guide Peter Jones gives an account of his remarkable encounter with an extremely rare albino Stonechat Saxicola rubicola, an unexpected occurrence on one of his famous day tours in the areas of the Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de Grazalema, Andalucia, Spain. Of course Spanish Nature day tours are renowned for providing wonderfully exciting days throughout Andalucia, here in the Serranía de Ronda it is particularly true with frequent sightings of Rüppell’s Vulture and Long-legged Buzzard, both very rare in our part of the world, but nothing quite prepared Peter for the sighting of what he originally thought was tissue paper snagged on a briar of bramble!" Spanish Nature
A real lucky and extremely rare find.
Wow, always something to surprise me. Here I stumbled upon a true albino young Stonechat Saxicola rubicola, so very rare and privileged to have been witness to this so unusual occurrence! See video and article here: Albino Stonechat video and article

For day tours with Peter see here:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Iberia Bird Festival - 2012

A novel and innovative concept for showcasing wildlife in Iberia has recently hit the ground running! Of course there are many festivals and fairs where we might wander along to and enjoy meeting-up with fellow nature enthusiasts, but I really like the idea and concept of the Iberia Bird Festival. It is a kind of travelling show, focusing on areas where birdlife is a rich and diverse resource, but has been largely missed on most birder’s radar. Almería is the region chosen for the very first festival of its kind and deserves its chance to promote itself to the nature loving public. It is a region that has suffered from a lack of any meaningful promotional investment by the powers that be for southern Spain, where both the focus and funding tends to concentrate on already known areas such as the Doñana (Seville) and Strait of Gibraltar.

Iberia Bird Festival sets out to be different. The festivals are non profit in so far as any surplus revenues are donated to a single nature project or charity each year. The organisers are passionate about our wildlife and want to be able to contribute to the preservation and conservation of birds in particular. IBF will hold the festival at a different location each year, not only to raise awareness of birds in various regions, but also to give visitors opportunities to see and learn about the great diversity of Iberia. The chosen project the festival will support for 2012 is the Osprey Migration Foundation, for details of the project see this link.

Iberia is collectively a veritable mecca for those of us that love nature. There are so many areas within the peninsula that are absolute jewels for nature in general, but in particular for birds. From some of the highest mountain ranges in Europe, to wide and expansive wetlands, steppe country and at its southern most tip the famous Strait of Gibraltar, the western European highway for birds passing to and fro on migration between Europe and Africa. The Iberia Bird Festival is an annual event, visiting a new location each year, supporting worthwhile causes for nature involving educational and conservation projects. They very much hope to welcome you to a celebration of the birds in Iberia at one, if not all, of their festivals. Entrance to this year’s festival in Almería is FREE!

•  All festivals include daily excursions to wild places.

•  Internationally famed authorities on nature give lectures on their particular speciality.

•  Exhibitors for nature goods, photography and travel will be showing their wares. 

•  Local guided tours available and the tour descriptions and costs will appear on the official website: Iberia Bird Festival

•  Music and parties each evening for the duration of the festival, tickets available at the festival. 

•  All net profits from the festival will be donated to a single educational or conservation project.

The venue and home for the festival in 2012 is Rodalquilar, starting 7th to 9th September, in the heart of the Parque Natural Cabo de Gata, it is the largest terrestrial-maritime reserve in the European Western Mediterranean Sea, covering 460 km² including the town of Carboneras, the mountain range of Sierra de Cabo de Gata, and 120 km² of the sea as a part of a Marine reserve. Hosting the festival for 2012 is the splendid Hotel Naturaleza Rodalquilar, close to the village of the same name and the head offices for the Parque Natural. The surrounding area is a protected nature reserve and has a plant list of over 1000 species as well as many much sought after birds such as Dupont's Lark and Trumpeter Finch. It promises to be a memorable year for the organisers and all who visit this year’s Iberia Bird Festival. The main partner with organising and promoting the festival this year is Hotel Rodalquilar. As a local and well respected company, the organisers of IBF could not wish for better partners during this year's festival. Their philosophy is more than just a business; it is a passion, a dedication to the portraying of values and emotions by means of environmental education, heritage interpretation and nature tourism.

The 2012 festival will not only be a celebration of our birds, but is also the 25th Anniversary of the Natural Park Cabo de Gata. Sounds to me like a very good excuse for a party! The Park will have their own stand at the festival, their offices and an extremely interesting museum are just a short walk away from the main IBF venue.

Main Link for the Iberia Bird Festival - IBF

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nature's funny moments.

Startled, but who is the Spotted Owlet or us? 
Encounters of the smiley kind!
A look back over WBT tours so far this year.

Most folk who have spent time in the wilds and watching nature at firsthand will no doubt have had a tale or two to tell about unusual encounters. For me, looking through various tour photographs, I thought I’d share a few of the more amusing snaps taken so far this year. They made me smile and may they also bring a smile or two to you! It is always great to remember moments of our tours, normally there are so many superb moments on each of the many tours, but the bizarre or chance encounter, strange expressions or behaviour of our wonderful nature just seem to stick in one’s mind.

I hope you enjoy this small collection of my abiding memories so far this year…

If you would like to see more, please leave a comment and if enough folk are willing to suffer, I will post some more photos in the future.

You can be sure this terrier would have been happy the anteater didn't stop!
Costa Rica Tour. Photo: Norman Cook

Makeup on, this Verreaux's-Eagle-Owl is ready for going out on the town.

Mud Skipper - Burping or singing I'm forever blowing bubbles?

Hyacinth Macaw smiling & dribbling at the waterhole.

Bloody pesky insects!

What me? It wasn't me who broke wind honest....

Gotcha, but now what do I do???

Where did that bloody photographer go?

Fierce predator? No way, just a an over-grown softy!

Watching you watching me...

Upland Buzzard thinks camera & cameraman are a rabbit...

I hope you enjoyed this small collection, if you would like to see more, please leave a comment and if enough folk are willing to suffer, I will post more.

For all featured tours and more, please visit Worldwide Birding Tours