Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Around the local hotspots

We were at Castro Marim this morning, our first visit for a little over a week. The number of birds there continues to be impressive and although long-legged species (Greater Flamingos, European Spoonbills, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, White Storks, Pied Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Black-tailed Godwits) predominate there are now several pans that are muddy or have just enough shallow water to make them attractive to the smaller sandpipers and plovers. Dunlin, Curlew Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers and Kentish Plovers were particularly numerous; we managed to find a single Little Ringed Plover and, of course, it was a pleasure to see our favourite Tringas.

Pied Avocet

Yesterday morning we visited Quinta do Lago where the numbers of ducks and gulls are increasing, particularly Gadwall, Shoveler and Lesser Black-backs. Migrant passerines included Pied Flycatchers, Garden Warbler and Sedge Warbler; among the 'expected species' were Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Bittern, Red-crested Pochard, Booted Eagle and Purple Swamp-hen but it's always fun to experience these through the eyes of people who are seeing them for the first time. "Just look at the size of its feet!" was the immediate reaction to the Swamp-hen. The tidal lagoon here is a great place to photograph Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwit; if only the Oystercatchers were so easy!


Ruddy Turnstone

Bar-tailed Godwit

At Quinta do Lago we were already half way to Lagoa dos Salgados so in the afternoon we decided to go and look for the juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper that was seen there at the end of last week. Remarkably, this bird showed up on almost the same date as the one that was at Salgados last year. In the event we didn't find it - there were plenty of waders to choose from but most were in an area of the lagoon that has now been rendered inaccessible by various means presumably designed to protect breeding birds. As a result they were quite a long way off and difficult to sort out through the heat haze. It was a bit frustrating. We did get good views of Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and Whimbrel so no real complaints. A Northern Wheatear posed for photographs - this is currently the most numerous of the passerine migrant species here.

Northern Wheatear

Locally, in Tavira and Santa Luzia, there are increasing numbers of Spoonbills and Greater Flamingos. We have already had news that a colour-ringed Flamingo which we reported on Friday from Santa Luzia was ringed in France in 1996 at Etg. du Fangassier - Bouches-du-Rhône. It has apparently been reported several times over the years from Castro Marim and Marismas del Odiel and in January 2009 it was seen in Tavira. There are lots more colour-rings out there for us to look at when we have some time on our own. For example, many of the Audouin's Gulls now gathering here are colour-ringed and although most originate from the Ebro Delta we have had the odd one from Mallorca.

Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo

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