Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Castro Marim and Tavira

We began the day at the Cerro do Bufo section of the Castro Marim reserve. There were no particular target species and on a cloudy, cool morning with very poor light that was perhaps as well! Most of the usual gulls, waders and wildfowl were present, plus numerous Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills and Cormorants, three or four Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, a Common Kestrel and a Common Buzzard.

However, smaller birds were difficult to see in the gloom and we cut short our usual walk and instead drove to the Visitor Centre. By mid-morning the sun was trying to break through but during our stay of half an hour or so we saw few additional species other than a Sandwich Tern and six Caspian Terns.

From there we headed to Vila Real do Santo António (VRSA) stopping on the way when a flock of Azure-winged Magpies flew across the road. We tend to take these birds for granted but seen for the first time they are definitely a reason to hit the brakes and pull over!

At VRSA, we spent about 20 minutes by the River Carrasqueira, where if we had had more time we might have looked for a Red-knobbed Coot among the numerous Eurasian Coots. As it was, we contented ourselves with good views of Greater Flamingos, Pintail, Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwits, Kentish Plover and Curlew Sandpipers. A Little Tern also came quite close. We returned to Tavira for lunch having seen about 70 species, which wasn’t a bad result given the rather poor start.

The afternoon was devoted to photography at one of our regular sites just outside Tavira. All of the species that came within range were ones we had photographed before but there is always the chance of something new and it is always fun to try and improve on what we have done previously. This Hoopoe actually came a bit too close; the Goldfinch on the other hand posed quite nicely on a thistle head.

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