Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Avian Adventures and more

We've been busy with a week-long Avian Adventures tour here in the Algarve and with other guiding that has resulted in multiple visits to the Castro Verde area and the coastal hotspots, Quinta do Lago, Lagoa dos Salgados, Tavira/Santa Luzia and Cabo de São Vicente.

The weather has been mixed with some thunderstorms and strong winds but now seems to have settled down and currently we have a cloudless sky and a comfortable 17° C.

Here are a few recent photographs:

We managed to see 11 species of raptors during the second of our days in the Baixo Alentejo, including lots of Lesser Kestrels. It was also a day that produced more than 100 Great Bustards and a nice flock of 40 Black-bellied Sandgrouse. On our earlier visit we saw the last three Common Cranes of the winter.

We are now seeing three races of Yellow Wagtails arriving: flava, flavissima and this one, iberiae.

Also creeping about in the grass, we found a couple of newly-arrived Greater Short-toed Larks.

On the local saltpans, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets and Kentish Plovers are now in pairs and preparing to nest.

Among the many Ringed Plovers on the saltpans, we are still seeing a few Little Ringed Plovers. 'Lurps', as we call them, are already occupying breeding sites inland.

Amongst the many Common Redshanks was this one, the first colour-ringed individual of this species we have seen in the Algarve. It was ringed in the Netherlands in May 2010. We have also seen a Dutch-ringed Spoonbill and a Spanish-ringed Greater Flamingo this week.

We have seldom seen more Red-crested Pochards at Quinta do Lago than there were yesterday. Red-billed Pochard would surely have been a more sensible name!

The Avian Adventures group included some keen botanists, so we have also been looking at orchids. This one is Sawfly Orchid, photographed near Sagres where we were entertained by a flock of 40 Red-billed Choughs, saw a few lingering Ring Ousels and found Spectacled Warblers.

Hoopoe - the Avian Adventures logo and, for photographers, hard to resist.

So many birds, so little time...

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