Friday, 26 November 2010

Tavira and beyond

The weather has been pretty discouraging this week and there was even a day when we didn't go birding! Really - that bad!

Mostly we have been enjoying the wonderful selection of birds on our doorstep here in Tavira but we've also been to Olhão, looking for unusual gulls at the 'docapesca', to Sagres, Cape St Vincent and Martinhal, to Altura, to Fuseta and to the 'top of the Algarve' at Fóia.

Radar, TV, radio and telephone installations on Fóia

In the Cape St Vincent/Sagres area we were pleased to find that there were still plenty of raptors; a Peregrine Falcon, lots of Common Kestrels and Common Buzzards but also ten or more Booted Eagles and at least one Short-toed Eagle. The whole area is full of birds: flocks of Lapwings, Golden Plovers, Skylarks, Corn Buntings, Spotless Starlings, Goldfinches, Linnets and Meadow Pipits; Jackdaws and Choughs; Thekla Larks, Black Redstarts, Blue Rock Thrushes and more.

Short-toed Eagle

We also found Blue Rock Thrush on Fóia but our main target there was its cousin the Ring Ouzel. There were at least half a dozen of them, birds apparently of the central and southern European race, Turdus torquatus alpestris. They were extremely active and difficult to count, chasing each other around from one berry-laden tree to another, as if there weren't enough berries to go around. It was fun to watch but frustrating that, even if there had been enough light, we weren't able to get close enough for a photograph.

Around Tavira and Santa Luzia, we have at least 24 wader species in the saltpans and tidal channels, plus Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, White Storks and the usual six species of gulls. Among the ducks, we have seen up to seven Common Shelducks; Sandwich Terns are common and one or two Caspian Terns can usually be found. A single Black-necked Grebe seems to have settled in to one particular lagoon and the hybrid Western Reef x Little Egret continues, also very faithful to one favourite channel. Bluethroats and Kingfishers provide regular flashes of colour. Raptors here this week have included a Black-winged Kite and a smart-looking male Hen Harrier.

Little Stint

Common Kingfisher

White Stork

The forecast seems to be for a further period of mixed weather with heavy rain on several days next week. No doubt we'll be doing our best to dodge the showers as usual.

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