Friday, 4 December 2009

Swallows and Yellow Wagtail in December!

It's been another week of birding mostly around Tavira but we did spend one morning at Castro Marim and also devoted a day to visiting several lesser-known (to us) coastal areas to the east of here.

At Castro Marim we finally caught up with the drake Blue-winged Teal - at least we assume that the bird we saw was the long-staying individual reported back in September and again by Luis Gordinho at the end of October. Where has it come from? As always with wildfowl, you never can be sure. Other than that we saw pretty much what we would have expected including 28 Slender-billed Gulls and a dozen Little Terns, the latter now probably settled there for the winter.

Which brings us to the Whooper Swan that turned up two weeks ago at Altura. When we last looked in there on Wednesday of this week it was still present and now definitely looking a bit more rested. As with the Blue-winged Teal the question of its origin remains and there will always be those who quickly dismiss such birds as escapes from captivity. Maybe they are right but the recent records of Whooper Swans in Spain are interesting and could influence the decision-makers.

During our trip along the coast, as well as Altura, we spent time at Fabrica, Aldeia Nova and Cacela Velha before finishing up back here in Tavira. We were surprised at the end of the day to find that without really trying we had recorded 79 species, a total boosted by several woodland birds including Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper and Green Woodpecker. It was that rare December day when we saw three species of wagtail! Last year we were surprised to see two Yellow Wagtails on 23rd November; the new record is 2nd December - but we will, of course, be hoping to find the bird again to extend that!

Yellow Wagtail

Around Tavira we have continued to see the usual Bluethroats, Blue Rock Thrush, Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Stone-curlews and Audouin's Gulls that we tend to take for granted, plus 22 wader species, an Osprey, two Hen Harriers, Slender-billed Gulls, Crag Martins, up to three first-winter Razorbills and lots more. A lovebird yesterday was a surprise; it was just at the edge of town and appeared to be a Lilian's Lovebird; it brought to mind the similar birds seen earlier this year near Armação de Pêra by Diederik van der Molen. Let's hope we're not about to add another exotic species to the breeding birds of the Algarve!


Generally the weather hasn't been too bad at all although maybe a little more cloudy than we would have liked. Temperatures have been reaching 17°C and three Barn Swallows over the saltpans yesterday didn't look out of place.

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