Saturday, 13 March 2010

Lots of migrants arriving

A strange bright object appeared high in the sky above Castro Marim on Tuesday morning; some older residents of the town thought they remembered it as something they used to call “the sun”!

And the sunshine has continued and with it have come more and more migrant birds. At Cerro do Bufo, we saw Great Spotted Cuckoo, Yellow Wagtails, Pallid Swifts and the ‘full set’ of hirundines including Sand Martin; we heard a singing Sedge Warbler. Later, near the Visitor Centre, we found a Woodchat Shrike and watched a delightful little Spectacled Warbler; in the afternoon a Common Cuckoo was calling loudly at nearby Aldeia Nova.

Woodchat Shrike

Enjoying the sun - an Iberian Wall Lizard

Wednesday was another 'bustard day' in the Castro Verde area. For the record, we saw 50 Great Bustards and about 65 Little Bustards (not to mention several Short-toed Eagles and Griffon Vultures and a Spanish Imperial Eagle). There are plenty of Lesser Kestrels and Montagu's Harriers around now, Woodchat Shrikes have joined the resident Southern Grey Shrikes on roadside power lines and Great Spotted Cuckoos are easy enough to find; we've also seen Little Ringed Plover and a few Black-eared Wheatears have arrived.

Ribeira do Vascão - boundary between the Algarve and the Alentejo

Countless White Storks nest in the Castro Verde area

Yesterday morning, we went to Cape St Vincent where off shore the numerous passing Gannets were mostly adults heading north to their breeding sites. Near Forte do Beliche we came across three smart-looking Ring Ouzels , we watched a Montagu's Harrier in the Vale Santo and again saw a Woodchat Shrike. We also watched a Short-toed Eagle soaring and saw two more from the motorway as we headed back east.

Lighthouse at Cape St Vincent

Vale Santo

Rugged coastline at the south-western tip of mainland Europe

Yellow hoop-petticoat daffodil

On the way home we called at Lagoa dos Salgados where there is now plenty of water again. Our first Garganey of the year was one of six duck species seen and we had just a brief look at our first Alpine Swift. Most of the time we were there a pale phase Booted Eagle was soaring high above. A lingering Bluethroat seen from the boardwalk was a definite crowd-pleaser.

'Hide' at Lagoa dos Salgados - more of a viewing platform and another design not to be copied!

All in all, we've had a really good week and after months of dismal weather it's great to see the countryside lit up not just by the sun but by lots of birds that we haven't seen in a while and wonderful displays of flowers.

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