Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sunday at Castro Marim

We spent four and a half hours this morning at Castro Marim, walking the track around the Cerro do Bufo area. After yesterday's rain the going was soft in places and we both grew by an inch or two as the mud stuck to the soles of our shoes!

From the photographs you could almost think it had snowed but this is, of course, an area of saltpans and the 'iceberg' is a huge pile of freshly harvested salt.

As soon as we got out of the car, we were adopted by this pesky dog that stayed with us the whole time we were there, mostly walking about 20 or 30 metres ahead of us flushing any birds within range - very frustrating. Only a Common Redshank put up any resistance, flying around just above the dog scolding it and kicking up quite a fuss just as it might have done if it had young to defend.

Among the morning's highlights were Little Bustards (30), Spoonbills (200), Black-necked Grebes (100), Caspian Terns (10), Black Terns (4), Audouin's Gulls (c300), Slender-billed Gulls (spread out in small groups and difficult to count) and Stone-curlews (40+). Migrant passerines included Northern Wheatears, Whinchats and Yellow Wagtails.

Just one of many Slender-billed Gulls

The absolute highlight though was what was almost certainly a Marsh Sandpiper. It was the right size (compared to the Common Redshank, Ruff and Black-winged Stilts that were with it), its legs looked yellow and its bill was black and straight. Unfortunately, it was just too far away to be 100% sure and there was no way for us to get any closer to it. After we had been watching it for just a few minutes, it flew even further away and we weren't able to re-locate it. Maybe we'll have another look tomorrow...

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