Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Week's Highlights

On Monday we were at Castro Marim. It was another 70-species morning with no particular highlights but 30 Golden Plover were new arrivals since our last visit, there were eight Little Terns and at least half a dozen Slender-billed Gulls.

Tuesday was mainly an admin day but we did manage a quick look at some of the local birds around Tavira in the afternoon. These included 50 or more Audouin's Gulls and a Caspian Tern plus all the usual waders, Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, etc. Back at home, a Crag Martin past the kitchen window was a bit unusual.

We wrote recently about birds being faithful to the same wintering areas year after year. On Wednesday, leaving the car at home, we set out on foot to look for a Black-winged Kite in an area on the edge of Tavira where we saw one regularly last winter. Black-winged Kites are relatively common in some parts of Portugal but not especially so in the Eastern Algarve. It is possibly our favourite raptor species and one that we are always pleased to see. On a warm, sunny morning we found our target bird surprisingly quickly - sitting on the same power cable that we saw it on at this time last year. The same bird? We would like to think so!
Late in the afternoon we decided to count the local Stone-curlew flock. The total of 109 birds was our best so far this autumn/winter.


Thursday was another beautiful day and we spent the afternoon walking around the saltpans on the Santa Luzia side of Tavira. A total of 64 species was recorded, 23 of which were waders (or shorebirds, if you prefer) including about 20 Knot which are not always easy to find there. A male Hen Harrier was presumably the same bird that we first saw on 26th October and has been seen several times since. There were at least 20 Slender-billed Gulls which we have to keep mentioning lest anyone should think that they are still rarities!
Back at home later, we saw a Black-winged Kite from the window, presumably the bird that we went looking for yesterday come to return the compliment.

We have already written about Friday - the day of the Whooper Swan at Altura and the Osprey in Tavira. We didn't mention three Barn Swallows at Altura or that we also found time to photograph those local Bluethroats again!

That Whooper Swan again - from even further away!

Bluethroat - also distant!

Today we had to be in Almancil for a couple of hours from mid-day (more of which later) but the binoculars and telescope are always in the car and not surprisingly we found time for some birding. On the way there, a Black-winged Kite got the day off to a good start. On the way back we made just a slight diversion and were rewarded with two more Black-winged Kites, a Booted Eagle, a Marsh Harrier, a remarkable 12 Black-crowned Night-Herons, a Glossy Ibis, about 100 White Storks, a dozen or more Spoonbills including one with what we believe to be a Spanish colour ring and scores of ducks - Wigeon, Pintail, Shover and Gadwall. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into a nearby tree, a flock of Azure-winged Magpies passed by, a Water Rail was squealing, two Barn Swallows were overhead and there were more Little Egrets than we cared to count. All this while we stood by the car - which was a good thing really as we weren't dressed for birding.

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