Friday, 20 March 2009

That Was The Week

We’ve had a bit more variety this week, visiting Alvor, Monchique, Quinta do Lago, Lagoa dos Salgados and Castro Marim and everywhere (not surprisingly) we have seen newly arrived migrants.

At Alvor we spent a very pleasant Monday morning walking round the marsh where there were plenty of birds to keep us interested. Among the 14 species of waders identified was a single Northern Lapwing, interestingly the only one we have seen since we returned to the Algarve on 5th March. A Little Owl staring back at us from the wall of a ruin near the parking area was a popular find and while we were having our picnic lunch there we saw our first Common Redstart of the year.

Later the same day we drove up through Monchique to Foia, at 902 metres above sea level, the highest point in the Algarve. Apart from the magnificent views and an array of telecommunications and radar installations, Foia offers Rock Buntings and Blue Rock Thrushes, both of which we found without too much trouble. We also had very good views of four Dartford Warblers together, presumably two pairs engaged in some territorial dispute. A brief stop on the drive back down produced a Common Cuckoo.

We stayed at home all day on Tuesday as PT Comunicações had promised to send out a technician to look at a problem we have been experiencing with our phone line. It wasn’t a complete surprise that nobody came but the day was saved when a male Montagu’s Harrier sailed past the kitchen window!

On Wednesday at Quinta do Lago we saw a Purple Heron, a drake Garganey, a Glossy Ibis, the long-staying Red-knobbed Coot plus the usual Red-crested Pochards and Purple Swamp-hens that are always crowd-pleasers. From Lago do São Lourenço we walked part of the way towards Ludo Farm and found five Slender-billed Gulls on one of the saltpans. There was also a single Audouin’s Gull on the estuary. However, there was a gale blowing and it really wasn’t a great day to be trying to find birds.

We took our picnic to Lagoa dos Salgados only to find that the lagoon has been drained yet again. That this excellent site for birds is treated so badly can only be described as a disgrace. A stunning male Black-eared Wheatear on the dry lake bed cheered us up a little and there was a brief and distant view of the four Northern Bald Ibises that have taken up residence on the adjacent golf course, birds that have absconded from the re-introduction programme in Spain.

Yesterday was spent at Castro Marim. Highlights among the 82 species recorded were a Purple Heron, two Collared Pratincoles, four European Bee-eaters, at least seven Slender-billed Gulls, a Spectacled Warbler, a Common Whitethroat and numerous Yellow Wagtails that included the subspecies iberiae, flava and flavissima all feeding together.

Yellow Wagtail (iberiae)

Today we’ve doing a bit of 'admin' but we did try to find some birds to photograph around Tavira. A Hoopoe and Crested Lark were the only ones that co-operated at all.

Eurasian Hoopoe

Crested Lark

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