Left to our own devices we might well have stayed home yesterday. From just a quick look at the weather forecast we could see that it would be a difficult day for birds and birdwatchers with winds of 20mph or more from the NNW. It was going to be cold and birds were going to be sheltering and hard to see.
However, arrangements were made and we were committed: June to a half day visit to Castro Marim, Peter to a full day in the Castro Verde area in the Baixo Alentejo.
The star bird at Castro Marim was undoubtedly the female Red-necked Phalarope that June found at Cerro do Bufo. Like many of the other waders here now it was a bird that is moulting into its breeding plumage. It is only the second of this species that we have seen in the Algarve and is sufficiently rare here that it will require a submission to the Comité Português Raridades.
As well as a dozen other wader species, the supporting cast included Little Bustard, Golden Oriole, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Greater Flamingo, Montagu’s Harrier, Red-rumped Swallow, Woodchat Shrike, Hoopoe and Azure-winged Magpie, some of these very common birds to us but much appreciated by visitors who are here for only a week.
Up in the Alentejo, the day’s bird list included most of the target species but raptors in particular were in short supply and there was only a quick glimpse of Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Highlights, again from a visitor’s perspective, were Collared Pratincoles, Griffon & Black Vultures, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Rollers, Lesser Kestrels, Great & Little Bustards, Short-toed Eagle, Calandra Lark and Montagu’s Harriers. However, finding birds was hard work and the area's other attractions including the continuing spectacular display of wildflowers were a welcome diversion.