Friday, 22 November 2013

Foz do Almargem

We were at Faro airport early yesterday and then spent the morning birding around the Foz do Almargem and Trafal.  We might normally have gone to Ludo or Quinta do Lago but a report a few days ago of a Red-knobbed Coot and a Little Gull at Foz do Almargem was enough for us to opt for a change of scene.  It was a cool morning with 100% cloud cover.

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. 

 Little Gull

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.

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