13th May 2018 Daniel Roca

Born to fly

Working in the field provides always interesting encounters with winged creatures. This week was no exception, and the flatlands were the perfect setting to witness some intense scenes.

Birds trace their own path in the invisible road of the air. They go wherever they want to go, and they do it in different ways depending on their abilities and way of life. But they are not attached to the ground as we are. Going from point A to point B is a whole different story when you can defy gravity. While we need to pay close attention to the intricacies of the terrain and adapt to it, birds navigate the air, and the air has its own rules.

So this is the setting, Lleida steppes. Spring is in full swing, as you can see.

Red poppy field

Swifts are known to fly high up in the sky. But when an opportunity arises in the form of abundant food, they are also able to do some amazingly fast moves, very close to the ground. This composition is a flight sequence that combines a burst of ten images in just one. Click to enlarge and appreciate the different wing positions of this Black Swift. They are true masters of the air.

Black Swift flight sequence composition
Now, on the other hand, these Griffon Vultures were not so agile when they decided to take off and join a large group of more than a hundred that were gliding in circles, along with White Storks and Black Kites. They are heavy, but once they become airborne, their flight is effortless, needing only some wingbeats every now and then.

Griffon Vultures take off
Not long ago, this Black-eared Wheatear was wintering somewhere in Africa. Its spring migration journey brought it back to its breeding grounds near Lleida. Now it blends with the landscape as it had never left. A well positioned rock is the perfect vantage point to scout its territory. It dances around in quick and short flights, making it look so easy… Now it’s on a rock, now it’s gone…

In a similar but more majestic way, given its size, the Short-toed Eagle takes off to examine the ground from above in search of snakes.

Short-toed Snake Eagle
We will never have wings, but what a joy watching birds fly.

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