Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Castro Marim again

The Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo Antonio covers an enormous area of saltmarsh and saltpans with the result that we can go regularly to ‘Castro Marim’, cover different parts of the reserve and never get tired of it.

Yesterday was another bright and sunny morning but with a chilly wind as we set out in search of Little Bustards. We had looked for them on Saturday at Venta Moinhos without success but yesterday we returned to our best site where we saw them on three separate occasions last month. This time we drew a blank! That‘s birds for you - unreliable - just when you think you know where to find them, they let you down! Perhaps they had been disturbed before we arrived and flown out. Who knows, but the truth is that this probably isn’t the best time of year to be finding them.

We did see a fair selection of the usual gulls (including Slender-billed and Audouin’s), waders (including about 50 Golden Plover) and ducks. The Peregrine Falcon was on what has become its ‘usual’ fence post and, of course, there were Spoonbills, Cormorants and hundreds of Greater Flamingos.

Fortunately, we have seen Little Bustards often enough to have a pretty good idea where they go when they are disturbed. We have seen them put to flight by roaming dogs and by farm workers and they usually head off in the same direction. So we returned to the car and a drive of about 15 minutes took us to a vantage point where we quickly located at least four birds. They weren’t maybe as close as we would have liked and they didn’t offer to fly but it was a good enough view to satisfy.

After that we spent half an hour trying for flight shots of the Sandwich Terns that were diving into the River Carrasqueira. It was fun but the results are not going to win any prizes.

Sandwich Tern

After lunch back at home, we again saw a Griffon Vulture from the kitchen window. Our guess is that it was the same bird seen on Wednesday of last week and that it is in trouble, struggling on its own to find food and now lacking the thermals it needs to cover any distance. Although it looked to have roosted in a tree about half a mile away, there’s no sign of it yet this morning.

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