Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday morning

After a couple of days of much cooler weather with not too much sun and more than enough rain, it was pleasant to be out this morning in bright sunshine. There was quite a strong wind at times, which meant that it was never really very warm but it was a definite improvement on Friday and Saturday and better than the forecast. Unfortunately, the rain had made the trail at Castro Marim rather muddy but this gave us a rare opportunity to wear our wellie boots, brought from the UK for just such days.

From a birding point of view it was an unremarkable morning that yielded just over 70 species, none of them unexpected, but when they include Greater Flamingo, Spoonbill, Little Bustard, Audouin’s Gull, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Spotless Starling, Sardinian Warbler and 16 different waders it’s impossible not to be impressed.

The numbers were also impressive. On the saltpans there were hundreds of Flamingos, Northern Shovelers, Pied Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls and on the river we counted almost 400 Eurasian Coots as we searched through them looking in vain for a Red-knobbed. On the surrounding farmland, Golden Plover numbered around 150 and there were big flocks of Skylarks, Goldfinches, Linnets, House Sparrows and European Starlings.

Marsh Harriers are common here but we never tire of seeing them and they often help us by disturbing the wildfowl and waders from the far side of the marsh to which we have no access. There were two of them this morning, struggling to cope with the wind. Eurasian Teal and Northern Pintail rose from the water as they passed over but the small handful of Greylag Geese remained unconcerned.

Marsh Harrier

We stayed until lunch time and then made a brief visit to Altura tank before returning to Tavira for a welcome bowl of hot soup!

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