Thursday, 23 October 2008

Castro Marim, Altura & the Faro ETAR

We usually visit Castro Marim at least once per week so our walk there this morning was overdue. We were there about four hours and saw 69 species, most of them not surprisingly the same ones we saw on our last visit. There were just five Little Bustards today and we might not have seen those had they not been flushed by a Marsh Harrier. We probably saw four different Marsh Harriers and had multiple sightings of Booted Eagle that may have involved more than one bird; a Common Buzzard was the only other raptor. Because Castro Marim is such a huge area it is always difficult to count birds accurately. The group of 27 Common Shelducks probably were the only ones there, but we can only say that Northern Shoveler, Pied Avocets, Greater Flamingos and Black-tailed Godwits each numbered in the hundreds. Gulls were particularly difficult to count as they were constantly on the move and in mixed flocks but there were certainly in excess of 100 Mediterranean Gulls; the most Slender-billed we saw together was seven. Also of note were five Barn Swallows, the first we have seen for about three weeks.

Slender-billed Gull

On the way back to Tavira we stopped for a few minutes as usual at Altura but it remains disappointing. We were able to count 31 Common Pochard, about 50 Mallard and a single Northern Shoveler but there were still only three Eurasian Coots and a handful of Little Grebes. Two Barn Swallows appeared briefly.

Later we had to go to Faro Airport and this gave us the opportunity to look in at the water treatment works on the way back home. This is not a site we visit very often but it’s guaranteed to be a ‘fragrant’ experience! Gadwall numbered over 1,000 and were easily the most numerous of the ducks; Mallard, Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and Eurasian Wigeon were also present in small numbers. Around the edges of the huge rectangular lagoons we found a few Common Sandpipers and the odd Common Snipe and lots of Little Egrets. There were 20 or so Mediterranean Gulls and we disturbed an Osprey from a fence post next to the adjacent fish farm.

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