Friday, 30 April 2010

A Couple Of Hours Off

Peter managed to get to Arizona on schedule with his Avian Adventures group and is enjoying some wonderful spring birding - the travel chaos caused by ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano now only a fading memory – let’s hope it stays that way!

For the past few days my only birding has been from the balcony here at home in Tavira when I have needed an occasional break from the computer. And what great birds I’ve seen: Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, Pallid Swifts, Collared Pratincole and best of all last night, a Red-necked Nightjar!

So today I took myself off for a walk around the local saltpans. Almost as soon as I started my walk I heard the unmistakable honking of Flamingos and quickly counted a dozen or so. Although the wader numbers have decreased with many heading north to breed, the ones that remain are mostly sporting colourful breeding plumage. There are black bellied Dunlin, Red ( very red) Knot, strikingly rufous Curlew Sandpipers , Little Stints showing foxy red and dark brown backs, Grey Plovers showing why they are called Black-bellied Plovers in the USA and Ruddy Turnstones also living up to their name, their normal black and white plumage transformed with a wash of tortoiseshell. Add to these the resident breeders who are all busy sitting on eggs or already have young downy chicks and you realise there is plenty to see. Whimbrels, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Stone-curlews and Bar-tailed Godwits were fairly laid back but as usual the Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Redshanks announced their presence with a noisy flight display.

I spent quite some time watching Bee-eaters as they hunted for insects. Their seemingly effortless flight alternating between a graceful wheeling and bursts of rapid wing-beats, as they swooped to capture their prey.

Then it was home for a late lunch and back to the computer.

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