Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Changeover time

What a busy time for us and the birds - plenty to see and to show to people! We've had some pretty poor weather these last couple of weeks but at last, today, the sun is out again!

Lots of migrants are arriving now. A few Barn Swallows and House Martins were with us throughout the winter and we even saw the odd Red-rumped Swallow in December. Now they're all here in large numbers and Sand Martins are also passing through. Two Pallid Swifts we saw on 14th February were, it seems, the earliest on record in the Algarve. They have since been followed by Yellow Wagtails, Woodchat Shrikes, Northern Wheatears, Common Cuckoos, European Reed Warblers and more. No matter how many times we've experienced the annual return of these birds in the spring, it's an exciting time and we want to be out there welcoming them back no matter what the weather.

Yellow Wagtail

At the same time, we are seeing waders such as Black-tailed Godwits starting to acquire their colourful breeding plumage while for some resident species the breeding season is already well underway. Some already have young in the nest.

Black-tailed Godwit

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

Many of our winter visitors are still here: we are still seeing Short-eared Owls, for instance, and there are still plenty of Chiffchaffs around and Bluethroats are still occupying their winter territories.

Short-eared Owl

The saltpans still have lots of waders and those that have wintered here are being joined by more that are on their way back having ventured further south. All too soon there will be a mass exodus as all these birds fly north to their breeding grounds. Our consolation is that we will have Bee-eaters, Golden Orioles, Nightingales and others to replace them!


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