Saturday, 2 October 2010

Upland Sandpiper update

We've been back a couple of times to see the Upland Sandpiper. It hasn't been easy to see and there has been no possibility of more photographs but at least we have been able to confirm its continuing presence. Today is its fourth day, it's only the second record for Portugal and, to our knowledge, it has now been seen by as many as five people! This is a far cry from last year's White-rumped Sandpiper 'twitch'; that was the third record for mainland Portugal and on its first day at least sixteen birders saw that one. For us, one of the major attractions of birding in Portugal is that there are no crowds!

While looking for the Upland Sandpiper this morning we were able to enjoy a nice selection of migrants that included Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whinchat, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers and at least two or maybe three Wrynecks. A couple of Blackcaps were joined by a Sardinian Warbler in half-heartedly mobbing a Little Owl that was sitting in an old olive tree; nearby a flock of Serins had found some seed heads to feed on; a Cetti's Warbler called. All in all it was a very pleasant start to the day.

Little Owl

Earlier in the week we've seen Great and Little Bustards, Griffon and Black Vultures, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Montagu's Harriers and Short-toed Eagles in the Alentejo; on several visits to Castro Marim, Little Bustards have been easy to see and one day there were at least 47 Slender-billed Gulls there; elsewhere migrants have included Common Redstarts, Northern Wheatears, Tawny Pipit and a late Woodchat Shrike; more winter birds are arriving including Northern Lapwings and plenty of ducks.

Tawny Pipit

At Castro Marim we found time to read a few colour rings and have already received details of three Spoonbills ringed in the Netherlands and a Greater Flamingo ringed in the Ebro Delta in Spain. One of the Spoonbills was a sixteen year-old that in previous winters has been seen in Banc d'Arguin National Park in Mauritania and in Guembeul Natural Reserve in Senegal so perhaps once again it is on its way to West Africa.

Eurasian Spoonbill - French-ringed, details awaited

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