Saturday, 15 November 2008

West and East

Thursday was devoted to a trip out to the west: Cape St Vincent, Vale Santo, Sagres, etc. although it was another sunny, cloudless day again there was a chilly wind.

We began at the lighthouse where we quickly found a Blue rock Thrush and several Black Redstarts. We looked hard for Alpine Accentors up to about half a dozen of which have wintered here in the past. Last year our first was on 6th November but there was no sign of them today.
Looking back towards the raptor viewpoint we could see that there were Griffon Vultures in the air so we headed in that direction and eventually saw about 350 of them. There were also a couple of Egyptian Vultures, at least two Black Kites, maybe three Booted Eagles and a Black Stork. We stayed watching them for quite a while during which time at least 10 Short-toed Eagles and 10 Common Buzzards also passed over.

As we headed for Vale Santo, we came across a Ring Ouzel and later we saw three more, one of which at least seemed to be of the race alpestris. Vale Santo had a flock of 400 or more Golden Plovers; at one point they were panicked by two large falcons. Presumably they were Peregrines but we did recall that this was exactly where we once saw a Lanner Falcon. A large area of land had been ploughed and a tractor was still going back and forth with Cattle Egrets, White Storks and White Wagtails the main beneficiaries. There were lots of Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Thekla Larks. Other birds of note seen during the day were Northern Gannets and a Shag, Crag Martins, Ravens and Red-billed Choughs.

Yesterday we went a short way east and spent the day at Castro Marim. It was far less windy than of late and we enjoyed some excellent birding. In the total of more than 80 species recorded the highlights for us were probably Little Bustards, Lesser Short-toed Larks, Yellow Wagtails and Northern Wheatear (both rather late), Hen Harrier and about 100 Black-necked Grebes. We were also pleased to see the Peregrine Falcon on its usual post. It is difficult, though, to pick highlights out of so many birds.

After several days with little but birding, today was earmarked for catching up on some domestic stuff - shopping, washing, etc. An Egyptian Vulture was seen over Tavira during the morning. Later we did find time to have a couple of hours around the Tavira and Santa Luzia saltpans where we counted 25 Audouin’s Gulls, the Grey Egret was in its usual place and we photographed a few waders. Bird of the afternoon was a Temminck’s Stint that flew in and dropped by the roadside. It quickly walked into water that almost covered its legs but you can just see that they are yellow.

Temminck's Stint

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