Saturday, 1 September 2012

Back in the Algarve

This is only our third day back in the Algarve and already our birding has taken us to Quinta do Lago, the Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura, the Castro Marim Natural Reserve and the saltpans of Tavira and Santa Luzia.

In rarity terms, the star bird so far has to be the Marsh Sandpiper that June found among the thousands of birds at Castro Marim when we were helping with the monthly high tide wader count.  This is a species that occurs here most years at this time and Castro Marim seems to be the most likely place to find one.  We also found one there in September 2009.  The Tringas are definitely amongst our favourite birds and it was unfortunate that this one was a very long way off and well out of camera range.

At Vilamoura, we enjoyed seeing five Ferruginous Ducks, not exactly rare but a species that seems to favour that particular area and one which we seldom see anywhere else in the Algarve.

However, it’s not all about scarcity!  It’s just very nice to be back amongst the huge numbers of birds, especially waders, gulls, terns and, of course, Greater Flamingos that occur here.  Yesterday, for instance, on just one saltpan we saw in the region of 1,000 gulls and today we counted 400 Audouin’s Gulls at Santa Luzia. 

Audouin's Gull - this one ringed in the Algarve

Santa Luzia saltpans

Inevitably, we have spent some time looking for any colour-rings that we can read.  So far in three days we have read and reported 37: 1 Black-winged Stilt, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and 34 Audouin’s Gulls.  We haven’t even looked yet at the Flamingos and we know that there are rings on some of the Slender-billed Gulls if only they would get out of the water and let us see their legs! 

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