Saturday, 19 December 2009

Changing Weather!

It's been a week when we have had to adapt our birding activities to the ever-changing weather conditions. We've had 'sunny & warm', we've had 'cloudy & warm', for two days it was 'sunny & really cold' and then, yesterday, we had 'torrential rain with winds gusting to gale force'.

Twice we have taken advantage of the good weather to have nice long walks along Praia do Barril and Praia da Terra Estreita, wonderful beaches that form part of the Ilha de Tavira. The trail to the beach crosses saltmarsh and at low tide it's a good place to get close looks at waders, such as Whimbrel, that are obviously quite used to seeing people pass by. At this time of year, we're fairly sure to find a Bluethroat or two and on Sunday we also saw a ringtail Hen Harrier.


Out at sea there are usually plenty of Northern Gannets passing by. This week we've also seen several Razorbills, a Great Skua, a Caspian Tern and several Sandwich Terns as well as the usual gulls. On the beach there were just a few Sanderlings and a Kentish Plover, although we did also find a few dead birds - a Gannet, three Razorbills, several gulls, a Purple Swamp-hen and what we think was a Manx Shearwater (not much left of it!).

Praia da Terra Estreita


We spent both of the cold days just birding around Tavira, staying in the car most of the time (we must be getting soft!) and taking a few photographs. Mostly it was the usual subjects: Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, Stonechat, Little Egret, Zitting Cisticola, Bluethroat, etc. There must be 150 or more Audouin's Gulls here now and it's still fairly easy to go and find a Slender-billed Gull or two; Stone-curlews remain in their usual place and have now been joined by a few Golden Plovers. Of course, the saltpans are still full of birds - about 20 species of waders, Spoonbills, Flamingos and an assortment of ducks.



The highlight of our week was, of course, the day we spent in the Castro Verde/Mértola area. As well as the Sociable Lapwing that we found near Benviuda we saw an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle, about 70 Great Bustards, a dozen or so Black-bellied Sandgrouse, plenty of Common Cranes and most of the other expected species. It was good to see that quite a few White Storks have already returned to their enormous nests.

White Stork with Red Kite in attendance

Sociable Lapwing

Great Bustard

The 10-day forecast suggests that we might be in for quite a lot more rain. We do need it but unfortunately it might mean that we don't get out quite so much next week! We'll see...

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