Thursday, 7 April 2011

Alentejo day (again!)

Yesterday we were in the Castro Verde area again. It was sunny and warm and we had another very good day; in fact only a strong wind prevented it from being an excellent day!

More than 20 Eurasian Griffons were seen, as well as a Eurasian Black Vulture

By now it probably goes without saying that we saw lots of bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and raptors! However, we did see also a few unusual or unexpected species.

For example, we hadn’t expected to see again the Wood Sandpiper that we found three weeks ago at Alvares. This bird is a migrant heading perhaps for Scandinavia and it has chosen to pause on its way north at a tiny pond that for the past six months, through the winter, has been home to a Green Sandpiper. What is it, we wonder, that makes this bit of water so attractive to Tringas? And when will it decide to continue its journey?

One of the many White Stork nests in the area

The Red-knobbed Coot near Viseus was certainly unusual, a rarity anywhere in Portugal, in fact. There have been reports of two birds there but we found the cristata apparently keeping company with a Eurasian Coot.

Also an unusual sight in our experience was a flock of at least 30 Whiskered Terns at a lake in the heart of bustard country.

And we were surprised to find two European Golden Plovers; we had thought that all the wintering birds in the area had left some while ago. One of the birds was looking exceptionally smart in full breeding plumage.

Quite apart from the birds, at this time of year it is worth a trip to the Alentejo just for the flowers. You don’t have to be a botanist to enjoy the wonderful carpets of white, yellow, blue and purple that cover the countryside!

Flowers everywhere!

Little Ringed Plover nesting habitat

Little Ringed Plover - several pairs were seen during the day

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