Thursday, 2 October 2008

Day trip to Sagres

On Wednesday, along with Ray Tipper, we made the trip west to the Sagres/Cape St Vincent area hoping to see some of the migrants reported earlier in the week and, as always, to find a few birds that we could photograph.

We began in a small area of coniferous woodland where we were pleased to find that there were still numerous Pied Flycatchers and Willow Warblers. Some of the Willow Warblers looked exhausted and it seemed likely that they might be new arrivals. At least one Blackcap and small numbers of Spotted Flycatchers, Common Whitethroats, Garden Warblers and Common Redstarts were also present.

From the raptor watch point we saw half a dozen or more Common Kestrels, a couple of Sparrowhawks, a single Marsh Harrier and a Black Stork but it didn’t seem like a day when there was going to be much movement of raptors so we didn’t stay long. A juvenile Woodchat Shrike in this area was the only one seen during the day.

As we headed for nearby Vale Santo, we stopped briefly to try and photograph a low-flying Short-toed Eagle but without much success. There were just six Golden Plovers where on another day there might have been Dotterel but there were no complaints as we soon saw Choughs, Northern Wheatears, Whinchats, Spotless Starlings, Yellow Wagtails, White Wagtails, Skylarks and Thekla Larks. Three or four Short-toed Larks flew over and we found several Ortolan Buntings. A Peregrine Falcon was the cause of temporary alarm and a Black Kite became the sixth raptor species of the day.

As the usual the area by the lighthouse was well populated with tourists so a few minutes here was long enough for us see a few Northern Gannets heading south and the usual Black Redstarts on the cliff top. We looked for a Blue Rock Thrush but didn’t find one until later when we stopped at a regular spot for them on the way back towards to Sagres. We also saw Shags here.
We completed the day’s birding with a short diversion to Martinhal where amongst a small group of Dunlins, Little Stints and Ringed Plovers we found the ‘oddity of the day’ a leucistic Ringed Plover.

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