Sunday, 27 December 2009

Vilamoura & Quinta do Lago

Well that 10-day forecast certainly proved to be right! In fact, we've just experienced probably the worst prolonged spell of weather that we've known during our time here in Portugal. We've had a week of torrential rain, thunderstorms and quite severe gales. Just when people were starting to worry about low water levels in the reservoirs, we've probably had half the year's total rainfall dumped on us in a matter of a few days!

We have managed to get out birding once or twice but until today it's mostly been around Tavira. At last, today was promised to be a day without rain and we set off early to the Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura. As we have commented before, this wonderful wetland area with its extensive reedbeds is an important site for breeding, migrating and wintering birds and is surely deserving of some formal protection. Instead it is threatened by further development of the sort that has already claimed much of the surrounding area and made Vilamoura one of the most unattractive places in the Algarve.

Although the weather has been very wet it has remained quite warm and there is plenty of insect life about so it wasn't a complete surprise to see about two dozen hirundines feeding over one of the pools. Crag Martins we expect, but it was a surprise to see them out-numbered this morning by House Martins. With Barn Swallows also present, it was difficult to get an exact count of each species but House Martins probably made up half the total. As many as seven species of herons and egrets have been seen in the Parque Ambiental recently but today we managed to find only four of them. We did get good views of several Penduline Tits and also in the reeds were a few Yellow-backed (or Black-headed) Weavers.

We spent the afternoon at Quinta do Lago, another area that has been sacrificed to golfing tourism. Fortunately, what remains is still attractive to birds and the lake here is one of the most popular birding sites in the Algarve, known as 'the' place to see Purple Swamp-hen, Glossy Ibis and Little Bittern. Today we managed to see two out of the three.

Although we had no rain, we didn't see the sun either! So it wasn't really a great day for photography. Still we couldn't resist taking a few:


Purple Swamp-hen

Grey Plover

White Stork - nesting on camouflaged phone mast

Booted Eagle

Penduline Tit

Common Snipe


Northumbrian Birding said...

Hi, I certainly enjoyed my recent visit to these areas, Ambiantal would be an excellent patch to watch ,and Quinta do Lago I was very depressed on the drive down but the area surprised me and I loved it,you have some very nice photos.

Peter and June said...

Thanks, Brian. Both sites provide really good birding - you just have to ignore the surrounding areas!

Andrew said...

Did you see the Alpine Swift over the north western side of Laguna Sao Laurenco?

Peter and June said...

No, Andrew, we didn't see your Alpine Swift. That seems like a pretty unusual record for December, but that's birding - always full of surprises!