Sunday, 10 October 2010

Alentejo again plus a Tavira walking tour

No two trips to the Castro Verde area are ever the same. Take last week for instance: on Monday we had really good looks at Griffon Vultures, flying and on the ground; just a few days later, we struggled to get more than a very distant view of a couple of birds in flight; on Monday there were plenty of Little Bustards to be seen, while on our second trip we didn't find any at all. On the other hand, we saw more raptors on the second trip, including Golden, Bonelli's and Spanish Imperial Eagles and our first Red Kite of the autumn.

Eurasian Griffon

Sometimes it's hard to account for such differences between visits that are just a few days apart but this week we can maybe point a finger at the calendar and see that Tuesday was a public holiday, celebrating the Implantação da República, a date that also marks the opening of the hunting season. From mid-August it is permitted to shoot migratory birds such as Turtle Doves but now Rabbits, Red-legged Partridges and probably Little Bustards, too, are fleeing for their lives and every other wild creature is keeping its head down. Hunting here is not just one or two people walking around with shotguns, its highly organised parties of heavily-armed men, out from the towns with their dogs, 'hides' made from straw bales to shoot from, tell-tale groups of vehicles parked in unusual, isolated locations. They take over the countryside and who knows what they shoot?

In between our trips to the Alentejo we agreed to help out our friends at Another Level by leading one of their guided walks starting in Tavira. It came as a relief and a surprise that people turned up for this walk carrying binoculars and so very quickly we were able to treat it as a 'birding walk'. We were out for something like seven hours and didn't carry a telescope or any heavy camera gear but we still managed to record 68 bird species. The highlight amongst these was a Black-winged Kite, the day's only raptor. We also took a few photos using the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 that is ideal for long walks such as this in that it weighs next to nothing.

Praia da Terra Estreita - a lovely, sunny day - nobody on the beach!

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Not all of the birds were easy to identify!

No sign all day of the rain that was forecast - no surprise there!

The "anchor cemetery" - remnants of the tuna fishing industry

Bougainvillea - starting to fade a little but still a colourful sight

No train ride for us but a good way to get to Praia do Barril

Coming off the island

We walked through areas of cultivation with vines...


and pomegranates

Speckled Wood

Greater Flamingos at Santa Luzia saltpans

Crimson Speckled


Anonymous said...

Great photos Peter!

thanks for two excellent days birding

Marina and Ian

Peter and June said...

Glad you enjoyed it - we did, too!