Sunday, 14 April 2013

Days out from Tavira

Last week was a busy one for us with days spent in the Castro Verde area of the Baixo Alentejo and across the border in Doñana as well as around some of the usual sites in the Algarve.

The Alentejo is at its very best right now.  Both Great Bustards and Little Bustards are displaying and easy to see, there are raptors everywhere (13 species this week), Calandra Larks singing, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Collared Pratincoles, Great Spotted Cuckoos, Rollers, Black-eared Wheatears and more.  However, what makes this time of the year really stand out is the amazing display of wild flowers – carpets of yellow, white and purple with patches of red.  Truly spectacular!

Alentejo flower show...

...too many to name!

Black-eared Wheatear

Lesser Kestrel

Doñana, too, is really looking good.  In complete contrast to last year’s disappointment following the drought, currently there is water everywhere and, as a result, lots of birds fixing to breed.  In particular, there were hundreds of Greater Flamingos and Glossy Ibises and seven species of herons and egrets.  Throw in a few Gull-billed & Whiskered Terns, some Greater & Lesser Short-toed Larks, Red-knobbed Coots, Great Spotted Cuckoos and an assortment of raptors and waders and it makes a great day trip from Tavira.  There was even a Long-tailed Duck at the Cañada de Rianzuela.

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Little Ringed Plover

In the Algarve, we’ve been to Ludo, Quinta do Lago, Olhão and, of course, Tavira, all of them within the Ria Formosa.  Highlights for our visitors have included Collared Pratincoles, Little Bittern, Bee-eaters, Caspian Terns, Slender-billed Gulls and Stone-curlews.  Just as much as those, we’ve enjoyed hearing the air filled with the songs of Nightingales, Cetti’s & Reed Warblers and watching Black-headed Weavers busy building their nests.

Collared Pratincole

Black-headed Weaver

Finally, news of the colour-ringed Common Redshank, H19, which we previously blogged about here.  This bird, which has now spent three winters in the saltpans here, is so faithful to one particular area that when we couldn’t find it on 15th March we were confident that it had left to start its migration to The Netherlands.  At the time, the weather there was awful with temperatures down to minus-3 and it didn’t seem like a good place to be going.  We were worried!  Anyway, the good news is that ‘our’ bird (which we share with Wim Tijsen who ringed it) arrived back on the breeding grounds on 9th April having presumably stopped somewhere on the way to wait for better weather.  We hope for news of a successful breeding season.       

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