Saturday, 24 October 2009

Alentejo day

It was quality rather than quantity today as we made our first visit for some time to the Castro Verde area.

As always in the Alentejo, Great Bustards were a prime target and during the day we found 40 or more without too much difficulty. The first ones were a long way off, shimmering in the heat haze, but eventually we saw some at reasonably close range and had good telescope views.

Remarkably, we saw Great Bustards, a Golden Eagle, about 20 Eurasian Griffons, two Black Vultures and several Black-bellied Sandgrouse all from the same vantage point. The vultures were on a sheep carcass with several Common Ravens in attendance. All this was enjoyed with the sweet song of a Woodlark in the background, at times the only sound to be heard - definitely a 'cosmic birding experience'.

It was quite a good day for raptors - apart from those already mentioned we saw mostly Red Kites and Common Buzzards but we did get first class views of a Bonelli's Eagle, not an everyday occurrence. The only Little Bustards of the day were ones that were flushed by the Bonelli's Eagle although Red-legged Partridges seemed to be its main target.

Not a long species list but some first class birding in a beautiful area and with wonderful, sunny but not too warm weather.

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