Two trips to the Castro Verde area this past week have demonstrated again how much more difficult it can be at this time of year to find even those species which we think of as reasonably common there. Sure we’ve seen Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Griffon Vultures, Short-toed Eagles, Calandra Larks, Lesser Kestrels and plenty more but for some of them we’ve really had to work hard! On one visit we had great views of a juvenile Black Vulture but our best bird was probably a Rüppell’s Vulture. We say ‘probably’ because, in all honesty, we couldn’t be 100% sure of the identification; we both saw it briefly and came to the same conclusion but the bird quickly got mixed up in a flock of about 50 Griffons and was soon no more than a silhouette disappearing into the distance.
We’ve also spent a day around Ludo and Quinta do Lago where Little Bitterns, Purple Swamp-hens and Black-crowned Night Herons continue to be among the most popular birds. We had so many sightings of Little Bitterns it was difficult to come to any conclusion about the actual number of individuals that were present. We were also pleased to see both a Black-winged Kite and a Booted Eagle in an area where we have regularly seen them in the past and where we hope they will now remain through the autumn and winter.
Around the Tavira area, we have been keeping an eye on the saltpans and adjacent areas. As well as Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills and increasing numbers of gulls and waders, there are now a few passerine migrants to be found, including Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Northern Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Tawny Pipits. There are many Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins in evidence currently and we are seeing plenty of Kingfishers. The increasing number of Stone-curlews probably explains why we couldn’t find any in the Alentejo!
Today, for a change, we crossed the border into Spain and met up with friends, Stephen and Julie, for a look around the Marismas de Isla Cristina. The birds there were much the same selection that we would probably have seen here in the Algarve but it was nice to have a change of scene. We also looked in at El Pintado Mill Ecomuseum, one of more than a hundred tidal mills that were constructed in Spain and Portugal in the second half of the 13th century and were an early example of the use of renewal energy. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.
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