Saturday, 14 March 2009

A Busy Week

Another busy few days of birding has seen us spending lots more time in the Baixo Alentejo, making several visits to Castro Marim and still finding a few minutes to have a look round Tavira. Today we rounded off the week with a trip to Quinta do Lago.

In the Castro Verde area we have seen countless Great Bustards and Little Bustards, there have been excellent views of Lesser Kestrels, several sightings of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Great Spotted Cuckoos have been easy to find, Black-eared Wheatears have returned and yesterday a Black Vulture was soaring with about 20 Eurasian Griffons. After really good views of them last weekend, on our last two trips we have struggled to find Black-bellied Sandgrouse but while we have been searching we have enjoyed watching and listening to the song flights of the many Calandra Larks. There hasn’t been time for much photography but it would be a poor show if we couldn’t get a picture of the area’s most numerous species - Corn Bunting.

Corn Bunting

Our walk around the saltpans at Castro Marim on Tuesday morning took us six hours to complete - there were just so many birds to look at. After lunch, we walked some more! Highlights for us among more than 80 species seen were the single Little Bustard that was virtually the first bird we saw when we arrived, a high count of 30 Caspian Terns, Audouin’s Gulls, a Spectacled Warbler, several Stone-curlews and a Bluethroat.

We made a further brief visit to Castro Marim on Thursday when this colour-ringed Spoonbill was very obliging. In an immediate response to our report, we learned from Otto Overdijk that the bird, a male, had been ringed as a nestling 2120 km away in the Netherlands on 24th May 2008.

Eurasian Spoonbill

Around Tavira we have seen Blue Rock Thrushes, Stone-curlews and Dartford Warbler, heard Water Rail, Cetti’s Warbler and Quail and managed to photograph Woodchat Shrike. On Monday, we saw two different grey egrets, presumably the same birds that we have seen many times before and which are thought to be Little Egret x Western Reef Egret hybrids.

Highlights from Quinta do Lago today were three Glossy Ibises, two Audouin’s Gulls, a Purple Heron and a Bluethroat.

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