There seems to have been a clear-out of migrants overnight. There are still one or two Willow Warblers in the olive trees outside but there was no sign of a Pied Flycatcher or Redstart when we went out this morning. It's amazing to think that they have headed off across the sea and the Sahara to spend the winter in West Africa.
This afternoon we checked out a few sites around Tavira starting with the saltpans to the west of town towards Santa Luzia and then working our way back to Fort do Rota. A ‘Grey Egret’ wasn’t seen well but was almost certainly the presumed hybrid Little Egret x Western Reef Egret that regularly spends the low-tide period feeding in the same channel at Santa Luzia. A Collared Pratincole and five Slender-billed Gulls flew over as we settled down to try and photograph some of the many Black-tailed Godwits, but it wasn’t long before all the birds were disturbed by some passing children and we decided to move on.
In the saltpans by the market in town there were more Black-tailed Godwits, plus Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlins, Little Stints and Common Redshanks and plenty of Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls but we were looking at them against bright sunlight so again we quickly moved on.
Taking the road to Quatras Aguas we stopped to look at the gulls that were roosting around the saltpans and were surprised to find so many Audouin’s Gulls. Some of them were bunched so close together that they were difficult to count but there must have been 150 or so. With a rapidly increasing breeding population in Spain and now a few pairs also nesting in Portugal, Audouin’s Gulls are regular here but today’s count was our best in Tavira. It is said that 90% of the European population breeds at just ten sites, which is why the species is still classified as ’near-threatened’. Four Caspian Terns, several Little Terns and a Sandwich Tern were with them.
At Fort do Rota a Whimbrel called but there was little else to see other than the many Northern Gannets passing just off-shore.