Saturday, 8 September 2012

Migrants everywhere!

Another busy week has seen us visit Castro Marim, Ludo, Quinta do Lago, Olhão and, of course, our local saltpans around Tavira and Santa Luzia.  We’ve also had brief looks at Altura ‘tank’ and the Vitacress site near Almancil where last year we found a Pectoral Sandpiper.

Star bird for us has been the juvenile Red-necked Phalarope that was found here in Tavira on Monday.  It was the first of this species we have seen in Portugal, mainly because the last five that have occurred in the Algarve have somehow all contrived to turn up at times when we have been elsewhere!  It was found in one of the saltpans along the Estrada das 4 Águas and was last seen on Thursday.  At no time did it threaten to come within range of a camera!

Elsewhere in the Algarve, and much rarer, a Lesser Whitethroat found in Vale Santo, near Sagres on Wednesday was the cause of much interest, although unfortunately not seen by anyone other than the finder.  There has been only one previous record in Portugal of this species.  At around the same time a Lanner Falcon was also reported from Vila do Bispo, a species not yet formally admitted to the Portuguese list although there are several records pending.  Not surprisingly, like the one we saw some years ago, it was said to be of the northwest African race erlangeri .

Here in the Eastern Algarve, we have had to content ourselves with more common migrants such as Northern Wheatears, Pied Flycatchers, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.  European Bee-eaters have been heard most days as they’ve passed high overhead and on a couple of days we have seen hundreds of Red-rumped Swallows on the move.  Popular birds with our visitors have been a very obliging Little Bittern, a Wryneck, Stone-curlews, Caspian Terns, Glossy Ibis and Slender-billed Gulls.

  Slender-billed Gull 

Of course, in the Ria Formosa and at Castro Marim, we’ve got thousands of gulls and waders, Spoonbill numbers are also increasing and already a few Northern Shovelers, Eurasian Wigeon and Teal have arrived.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls adding flavour to the salt

A really Black-bellied, Grey Plover

 Little Stint

Also notable this week has been the return of one of the hybrid Little x Western Reef Egrets that have been a feature of the Tavira area for several years.  We went months without seeing one and had assumed that the regular birds had perished but it looks as though one has survived and may be going to spend another winter here.

Looking ahead, apart from guiding, there is fieldwork to be done for the Portuguese Atlas of Wintering and Migratory Birds, there will soon be a pelagic trip, some time will be spent with ringers and some will be devoted to photography.  It’s going to be busy and it’s going to be exciting!  Oh, yes, we almost forgot – June is going to Colombia on Tuesday!

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