Saturday, 10 April 2010

Wagtails, Whinchats, Wheatears and more

This morning, after a brief look at the many migrating waders now congregating on the saltpans here in Tavira, we spent an hour or more in the car, parked in the corner of a field at the edge of town.

From that one spot we watched numerous Northern Wheatears, Whinchats, Yellow Wagtails (of three different races), four Greater Short-toed Larks, a Common Redstart, a Tawny Pipit, Bee-eaters, a pair of Woodchat Shrikes, a couple of Hoopoes and several Crested Larks. At the same time, two Common Quails were calling.

Yellow Wagtail

Woodchat Shrike

Northern Wheatear


Yellow Wagtail

It was quite a sight and we enjoyed it so much that we returned in the afternoon to take another look! Presumably the easterly wind that has been chilling us for a few days has also held up some of these birds on their way north.

Also this afternoon we went and checked on the small local Bee-eater colony where we watched four pairs of birds apparently preparing to nest. It looked as though the Stone-curlews in the same area may already have nested - both birds were standing in the middle of a field in full view. We were already having a good day but it was rounded off by the unusual sight of nine Purple Herons flying east over the Tavira saltpans.

Actually, it wasn't quite rounded off because on the short drive home we had nice views of a Water Rail!


Colin said...

Hello Peter & June,

I hope that you are reporting these sightings to SPEA's "Chegadas" project - the co-ordinator, Henk Feith, is concerned about the low number of submissions this year.

I find it amazing that the eastern Algarve gets a different "set" of birds compared to the west - I have never seen a Winchat in the spring, and Yellow Wagtails (of any "flavour" (pun intended!) are thin on the ground this year.

I did have six Purple Herons in off the sea yesterday, and an adult male Pied Flycatcher this morining, the first of this species in spring in thirteen years (despite it being the commonest passerine migrant in autumn). Also, I have never seen a Northern Wheatear in spring in the west.

Weather about to break with ten days of rain and thunderstorms predicted. "Oh to be in England now that spring is here" - !!!

Peter and June said...


Yes, migrant arrival dates are being sent to Henk Feith.

Our guess is that the preferred migration route of most of these birds is well to the east of us and that even when there are easterly winds they don't reach as far west as Alvor.

We had our first Melodious Warbler today, singing at the edge of the saltpans in Tavira.

Peter & June