Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Castro Marim and more Pied Flycatchers

We spent a warm, almost cloudless morning at Castro Marim walking a complete circuit of the Cerro do Bufo saltpans. By 10.30am it was really quite warm and the gentle breeze was very welcome. As expected, there were parts of the trail that were quite muddy and it could be a week or so before everything dries out again.

As would be expected in this mainly wetland area, the total of 70 species that we recorded was dominated by waders (19), gulls (6), terns (3), grebes (3), herons and egrets (3) and ducks (5) but the total was boosted by several passerine migrants in the surrounding trees and bushes. These included Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Warblers, Whinchats, Northern Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails. We counted more than 150 Spoonbills and there were probably close to 1,000 Greater Flamingos; the only ’rarities’ were eight or more Slender-billed Gulls, actually an increasingly regular species along the Algarve coast although scarce elsewhere in Portugal.

After a short diversion across the border into Spain to re-fuel the car, on the way home we stopped at Altura tank . At this time last year there was a Red-knobbed Coot here amongst more than 100 Eurasian Coots; today there were just two Eurasian Coots. As usual there were Little Grebes and a few Common Pochard on the water plus about 30 Mallard but not much to get excited about. Barn and Red-rumped Swallows were flying over - the first hirundines of the day.

Back home we had a walk down the track towards the local shop, the area where we had been yesterday. Again there were numerous Pied Flycatchers and today we also found Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warblers and Blackcap as well as the usual Eurasian Jays, Sardinian Warblers and Crested Larks. When the need for food finally took over and we headed back home, a Peregrine Falcon flew over bringing the day’s birding to an end.

The news is that there are unusually high numbers of passerine migrants all along the coast, particularly at Sagres and Cape St Vincent. What shall we do tomorrow…?

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