Thursday, 28 March 2013

Water, Water, Everywhere...

Any concerns there might have been earlier in the year about an impending water shortage here in the Algarve can certainly be forgotten now as after several weeks with scarcely a dry day the reservoirs are full to overflowing and there’s water lying everywhere.

Quite a lot of the bird photography we do here is at ponds and puddles.  We’ve tried to attract birds by offering them food but had no success at all; they just haven’t caught on to the idea of a free meal.  However, they do love fresh water for drinking and bathing and we’ve spent more hours than we care to think about sitting by pools of water.

Obviously, this strategy works best when there isn’t much fresh water around.  Last autumn, when everywhere was parched, a burst pipe at Castro Marim resulted in a small pond forming and we were regular visitors there to photograph Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Stonechat, Southern Grey Shrike and others.  In mid-February, just before the deluge started, we spent several hours at a puddle near Sagres that attracted 21 species during the time we were there.  On that occasion we were particularly pleased to photograph Ring Ouzels and Redwings.

Ring Ouzel

Right now with so much water available we wouldn’t normally consider devoting a lot of time to a single pond but yesterday we came across a Water Pipit that was feeding around the edge of a temporary pool where we have regularly had success in the past.  We couldn’t resist it!

Two hours later we came away with reasonable photographs of Yellow Wagtails and a Little Ringed Plover but less than satisfactory ones of the pipit, which just wouldn’t come close enough.  A Corn Bunting and a Meadow Pipit also popped in briefly but five species was a poor return for the time we put in.

 Little Ringed Plover

Meadow Pipit

Undeterred, we were back there this afternoon (it is only a short distance away) and after an hour or so of watching a White Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit, several Yellow Wagtails chasing each other about and the same Little Ringed Plover as yesterday, the Water Pipit finally showed up.  This time we got the photo but only just in time as the bird was spooked by a noisy Black-winged Stilt and flew into the distance – the joys of bird photography!

 Water Pipit

Yellow Wagtail

Barn Swallows and House Martins have been here in good numbers for several weeks now and there are reasonable numbers of Yellow Wagtails around but otherwise migrants seem quite slow to arrive.  Woodchat Shrikes, Pallid Swifts, Spectacled Warblers, Bee-eaters, Common Cuckoos, Nightingales and Subalpine Warblers are here but not yet in the numbers we might expect.  Maybe the Easter weekend will bring some more. 

Woodchat Shrike

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