Based on past experience, both of the ‘target’ birds were ones that were likely to stay for a while. Last year’s Little Gull here in Tavira was in the area for at least a week and a Red-knobbed Coot, once settled, might remain throughout the winter.
Our confidence was justified! There were several hundred gulls bathing and splashing, Lesser Black-backs, Yellow-legged and Black-headed, but the tiny Little Gull was easy to find, bobbing about on the water appearing from a distance almost like a phalarope.
There were about 80 Eurasian Coots in a flock and we set up the ‘scope to search through them. Again it didn’t take long - even in very poor light, the pale blue bill of the cristata made it very obvious amongst its more common pinkish-billed cousins.
One of each - Eurasian and Red-knobbed Coots
Other birds on and around the lagoon included Red-crested Pochard, Purple Swamp-hen, Black-tailed Godwits, Sanderling, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin and Kentish Plover.
We walked to Trafal where a Black-winged Kite was sitting on top of one power pole and on the side of another a Great Spotted Woodpecker was immediately replaced by an Iberian Green Woodpecker. Between the poles, four Hoopoes were perched on a cable, at least one of them calling loudly. A couple of Barn Swallows flying through seemed particularly unseasonal on such a drab day.
Out over the sea, Gannets were numerous and a flock of about 100 Common Scoters got up and flew a short distance when disturbed by a passing boat.