Thursday, 26 January 2012

Snow Buntings

When we received an email on 6th January telling us that three Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) had been found on the beach near Vila Real de Santo António in the south-east corner of the Algarve, we were still enjoying ourselves in Arizona!

Snow Bunting is a rare species in the Algarve, particularly so at this eastern end of the coast. So, although we were having a great time in the USA, it was just a little bit disappointing not to be able to go and look for them.

Still, we did put a trip to VRSA high on our list of things to do once we were back here in Portugal, hoping that the birds might just end up being long-stayers. Today that trip reached the top of our list and on a beautiful, bright and sunny morning we headed for the beach.

The report had been of an adult and two 1st-winter birds and within just a few minutes of our arrival we easily located the two 1st-winter individuals feeding along the tide line. From their differing plumage, we took them to be a male and a female. We can claim no great expertise in the identification of Snow Buntings down to subspecies but it has already been suggested that they are birds of the nominate race, nivalis, and we could find no reason to disagree with that. Wherever they are from, they are a long way further south than their normal wintering grounds.

The beach looking towards Monte Gordo.

We stayed and watched them for about an hour and a half during which time they fed more or less continuously and didn't seem at all bothered by our presence. At one point, one of them actually approached to within a couple of metres of June. Unfortunately, at no time was there any sign of the adult bird.

Let's hope the two of them stay around for others to enjoy.

1 comment:

Ventura said...

Thanks a lot June & Peter! This morning i went there and i found the couple!