Thursday, 4 December 2008

Local birding

Since our trip to the Alentejo on Sunday we’ve stayed mainly around Tavira this week. There’s been some photography from our mobile hide (aka the car) and we’ve explored on foot areas not far from here that we’ve previously only driven past.

The photography involved, amongst others, a frustratingly mobile Grey Wagtail made all the more difficult to photograph by an aggressive White Wagtail that would chase it off at regular intervals. This is a familiar scenario that we have watched at the same site on numerous occasions through October and November, presumably involving the same individuals.

Grey Wagtail

Apart from that we have checked on the ‘Grey Egret’ at Santa Luzia which was in its usual place; we’ve looked in on the local Barn Owl at its roost; we’ve seen Redwing (scarce in the Eastern Algarve) and Woodlarks just outside town and we’ve had a Short-toed Eagle fly over the nearby quarry.

We did venture as far as Vila Real do Santo António (we like to call it VRSA) for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. It’s an unusual town, unique in the Algarve, in that the streets are laid out in a right-angle grid system. If you want shops that sell towels and bed linen, this is the place for you - the town centre is full of them! We did what we had to do and then drove just out of the town to the mouth of the Guadiana River to see whether we could find any Little Terns. Most Little Terns leave Europe in October to spend the winter off the coast of West Africa, some going as far as Ivory Coast and Ghana. However, a few usually remain here alternating between the river mouth and the nearby saltpans at Castro Marim. We counted 12 at Castro Marim on 23rd November but could find only three yesterday on the river. About 100 Oystercatchers were on a sandbank in the middle of the river but, as the Guadiana is the international border, they might have been in Spain!

And wherever we’ve been, no matter what the habitat, we have seen Chiffchaffs, gazillions of Chiffchaffs!

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