When we arrived at Castro Marim this morning it was barely light and decidely chilly; for the first hour or more another layer of clothes would have been very welcome! However, by the time we finished our walk more than five hours later the temperature had reached a more 'normal' 24°C.
There was no salt harvesting activity this morning and for a while we had the place to ourselves. It being Sunday though, one of the days on which hunting is allowed here, inevitably a few shots were fired over on the neighbouring farmland and the birds were skittish. A couple of patrolling Marsh Harriers probably didn't help. The ducks in particular, mostly Mallard and Shoveler, were quick to take off and there were plenty of opportunities also for photographing Grey Herons, Greater Flamingos and Cormorants in flight. A Stone-curlew also came by at one point.
After seeing Greylag Geese at Ludo on Friday, it was no surprise to find 13 of them here. In fact there were no real surprises at all this morning; we saw more Curlew Sandpipers than on our last visit including 50 or so in one flock; the regular flock of Black-necked Grebes was a long way off, tightly bunched and frequently diving but numbered at least 60 birds; there were 16 Little Terns, two Caspian Terns and a handful of Sandwich Terns; Audouin's and Slender-billed Gulls went uncounted; Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits are in their hundreds and although they were impossible to count today it looked as though there were still at least 200 Spoonbills. The species count for the morning was 72 and while migrants such as Northern Wheatear are still here, more and more winter birds are in evidence including Common Snipe, European Starlings and Meadow Pipits as well as the wildfowl.
Probably the morning's highlight was a flock of 34 Little Bustards, not because we don't regularly see them here but because they perhaps had more sense than to fly. We were certainly able to get closer to them while they remained on the ground than we ever have done before at Castro Marim. They just looked back at us and slowly moved away, continuing to feed as they went. Maybe they can tell the difference between a tripod and a shotgun!
Creatures at Castor Hanglands NNR
3 days ago