Friday, 26 December 2014

Black Vultures

Aegypius monachus is a species that we see fairly often in Portugal, most frequently in the Baixo Alentejo but also, from time to time, in the Algarve.  We usually refer to it as Black Vulture or sometimes Eurasian Black Vulture, which are the names used in the Collins Bird Guide and which have been in use as far back as one cares to look.

Eurasian Black Vulture
 American Black Vulture

However, just a few years ago came the IOC World Bird List, the list of recommended English names for all the world’s birds.  Now we were urged to refer to Aegypius monachus as Cinereous Vulture.  This change was proposed with the intention of avoiding confusion with Coragyps atratus, the Black Vulture of the Americas.  Just who proposed the name Cinereous, meaning ‘ashy-grey’ isn’t clear.  Presumably it was someone who had never been fortunate enough to see one of these huge birds, which may not be black but which are certainly not ashy-grey.

American Black Vulture

At about the same time, the British Ornithologists’ Union somewhat bizarrely, proposed a change of name, not to Cinereous Vulture, but to Monk Vulture.  Not surprisingly, this didn’t gain widespread acceptance but did add to the confusion for a while.  The suggestion that Coragyps atratus should be called American Black Vulture while Aegypius monachus remained Eurasian Black Vulture was rejected, possibly on the grounds that it was too simple but more likely because the Americans involved in the decision making could not come to terms with ‘their bird’ having to be anything other than simply Black Vulture.

None of this is new, of course, but the subject was recently a topic of conversation while we were in Florida where (American) Black Vulture is a very common bird that we saw every day.  This is a species that has increased in numbers quite significantly during the last 25 years but it’s an increase that has brought a variety of problems and conflicts as the birds have adapted to living in close proximity to the human population.

American Black Vulture feeding on Armadillo

For some years vultures have been reported causing damage to residential and business property. Their droppings can kill trees and are said to create unsanitary and unsafe working conditions at power plants, refineries and communication towers. They can sometimes appear aggressive towards people and they harass and sometimes kill livestock.  In flight, they can be a danger to aircraft.

And they routinely cause damage to parked motor vehicles by pecking at windscreen wipers, sunroof seals, and other rubber or vinyl parts.  Black vultures are primarily scavengers that play an important role in ecosystems, cleaning up dead and decaying animal carcasses - they are regularly seen feeding on roadkill.  Rubber and vinyl certainly isn’t a part of their natural diet and only rarely do they eat any of it. Typically, the material is simply discarded after it’s ripped from the vehicle.  However, that’s not much consolation if it’s your shiny SUV that’s just been trashed!

You have been warned!

On our tour we first became aware of the Black Vulture problem at Myakka River State Park where there were notices on the car park warning of the possibility of birds attacking vehicles.  However, it was at Royal Palm Hammock in Everglades National Park that we saw the birds in action and felt the need to take some preventative measures.  The situation there has become so serious that tarpaulins and bungee cords are provided so that visitors can cover their vehicles and that’s exactly what we did.  Others didn’t heed the warnings and paid the price!

No one seems to know what it is that has brought about this behaviour from the vultures and there is much ongoing research into the problem, which is far from being unique to Florida.   Although the Black Vulture receives legal protection in the United States under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 inevitably when the problem can’t be dealt with in any other way, birds are killed - about 5,000 of them annually according to the U.S.  Dept. of Agriculture.  And that’s just the ones they know about that were killed legally.

Of course, the American Black Vulture and the Eurasian Black Vulture are not closely related; similarities between the two are due to convergent evolution.   For some time it was thought that the New World Vultures were more closely related to the storks than to the birds of prey but that idea seems to have fallen from favour and some would now place them in a separate Order, Cathartiformes.  Whatever they are they seem to be quite a problem and one that isn’t going to be dealt with easily.

Friday, 19 December 2014

It's good to be back!

On Wednesday morning, after a month away from Portugal, which included our Avian Adventures tour in Florida, we were ready again for some Algarve birding.  As is usual when we’ve had time away, we began by spending a few hours checking our local area around Tavira and Santa Luzia. The weather was almost perfect - clear blue sky, temperature up to 18ºC.
One of the reasons for being in Tavira is that we particularly enjoy seeing waders and it wasn’t surprising to find 22 species within walking distance from the town centre.  With a bit more effort we might well have added to that total.

 Bar-tailed Godwit


For once we were able to watch all six of the commonly occurring gull species together in one saltpan.  There seem to be fewer Audouin’s now but probably more Mediterranean than we expected and still a few Slender-billed.   Black-necked Grebe numbers had increased to ten and while we were seeking them out a Marsh Harrier flew through; several Bluethroats and a Little Owl were exactly where we had last seen them in mid-November.

 Slender-billed Gull


We stayed out until dusk hoping to see a Short-eared Owl but we were out of luck.  For several winters they hunted regularly around the Tavira saltpans but we haven’t seen one here since February 2013.  The day didn’t produce anything exceptional but with little effort and mostly from the car we recorded more than 70 species.

The only really notable bird that has occurred here while we were away was a Red-breasted Flycatcher that was found at the edge of the golf course at Quinta do Lago on 12th December.  This is a comparatively rare species in the Algarve with only about seven previous records and none quite this late in the year.  Thanks to Simon Wates, we saw one in November 2009 at Figueira but the possibility that this recent bird might still be in the area was all the excuse we (and Ray Tipper) needed for an early start yesterday for a trip to Ludo and Quinta do Lago.

One of the first birds that greeted our arrival there was a Booted Eagle and it proved to be just the first of at least nine of these lovely birds that we counted in our first half hour.  Just as impressive in their own way were 20 or more Grey Herons standing together in the soft morning light, dwarfing the Little Egrets that were sharing the same plentiful food supply.

Little Egret


Nearby several Spoonbills marched purposefully away from us, three sporting an array of colour-rings details of which we have since reported.  Duck numbers had increased since our last visit; Wigeon and Teal were particularly vocal, sounds that we once associated with cold or damp winter mornings at Belvide Reservoir in Staffordshire!  There was the usual good selection of waders with Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin the most numerous; a Kingfisher flashed past and several Cetti’s Warblers called loudly. 

Around the golf course we found a couple of Hoopoes and two Mistle Thrushes and from the pines we could hear the calls of Short-toed Treecreeper.  Most of the birds in the surrounding trees were Chiffchaffs but eventually the Red-breasted Flycatcher appeared, albeit briefly.  It hardly stayed still for more than a few seconds and quickly disappeared.  We had to wait quite a while before we saw it again but then we were able to watch it for more than half an hour as it flitted from pine to eucalyptus to olive finding the tiniest food items.  We wonder how long it will stay!

Red-breasted Flycatcher

There was time on the way home for a quick look at the saltpans near Olhão.  Amongst the Mediterranean Gulls there we managed to read two colour-rings, one from France and one from Hungary.

When we got back to Tavira there was only one way to round off a successful morning - lunch at Restaurante Ana!  It really is good to be back!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Just back from Florida

We really enjoy the Algarve at this time of year.  It’s much less crowded with people than it is during the summer months but it’s still full of birds.  Also, the weather is generally rather better than we can expect in the UK with temperatures forecast to be as high as 18°C in the next few days.

Having said that, we do also very much like birding in other parts of the world that have a warm climate and we never turn down an opportunity for some winter birding in the USA.  In November, December and January of the last few years we have led tours for Avian Adventures in California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Florida, often over Christmas and the New Year.  Just like the Algarve these southern states attract countless wintering birds from the north and there’s always a chance of finding something unusual.

This year’s tour in Florida from which we have just returned was most successful and full of interest.  Not only did we record a good selection of birds but there were also butterflies, mammals, reptiles and amphibians to keep us occupied.

 Green Heron


 Reddish Egret

 Loggerhead Shrike


Compared to Arizona, California and New Mexico, Florida isn’t particularly attractive scenically, it’s rather flat and much of it is only a few feet above sea level.  It is the eighth most densely populated of the US states and much of it has been built on.  For all that there is surprising habitat diversity and it still has plenty of wildlife.  The birds include a splendid variety of wetland species, several subtropical specialities some of which occur nowhere else in the USA and many exotics that have either escaped from captivity or been deliberately introduced.  There is just one endemic species, the Florida Scrub-Jay, first officially recognised as a separate species only about 20 years ago and now for many birders one of the main reasons for visiting Florida.

Florida Scrub-Jay (John Cutting)

  White-crowned Pigeon

Apart from the Florida Scrub-Jay, the most notable birds seen during our tour were Snail Kite, White-crowned Pigeon and Limpkin, none of which can be found elsewhere in the USA, Burrowing Owl of the subspecies floridana, which is much darker in appearance than the birds we see in Arizona, the white morph of Great Blue Heron (“Great White Heron“), Vermilion Flycatcher, Worm-eating Warbler and Summer Tanager that are all somewhat scarce in Florida during the winter and Henslow’s Sparrow, a species that neither of us had seen previously.  We also saw two House Finches in the Everglades National Park, a common enough species in the northern part of the state but almost unheard of so far south and the cause of some excitement among the locals.

  Great Blue Heron - white morph

Burrowing Owl

Amongst the mammals the main attraction is West Indian Manatee, which we saw in several different locations.  Nine-banded Armadillo was also popular although most frequently seen as road-kill.  Snakes included the attractive but venomous Pygmy Rattlesnake.  With our emphasis very much on the birds, we paid attention mainly to the larger butterflies such as the potentially confusing Gulf Fritillary, Monarch, Viceroy, Queen and Soldier.  Needless to say, we saw countless Alligators.

 Nine-banded Armadillo

Gulf Fritillary

We were also fortunate to be able to watch the launch from Kennedy Space Centre of the Orion EFT-1.  We joined a small crowd of people at Kennedy Point Park at first light on a rather dull morning to see the rocket lift off and very soon disappear into the clouds.

Lift-off from Kennedy Space Centre

We can thoroughly recommend Florida for a winter birding break.  If it appeals to you, let us know - we are planning another tour there for Avian Adventures in January 2016!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Algarve rarity update

The second half of October saw more rare birds arriving in the Algarve.  The star attraction was an Olive-backed Pipit found near the Cabranosa raptor watch point on the 21st.  The only accepted record of this species in Portugal was down here in the south at Alvor some 20 years ago but several have been reported from the Berlengas, Cabo da Roca and elsewhere in the last three years and those reports are still in the hands of the Rarities Committee.

Also found near Cabranosa on the 21st was a Yellow-browed Warbler, which proved to be the first of many!  So far there have been about a dozen in the Algarve and others further north.  There is still time for more to be found and numbers look certain to exceed last year’s total, which itself far surpassed anything that had gone before.

Yellow-browed Warbler - Castro Marim, November 2013

As might be expected, these birds at Cabranosa attracted some attention and perhaps it was increased observer activity in the area that resulted in three Rüppell’s Vultures being identified amongst the many Griffons and to the discovery of a White-rumped Sandpiper at nearby Martinhal on the 22nd.

Rüppell’s Vultures, while still very rare in the Algarve, are now birds that can almost be expected at this time of year at Sagres.  Recently we wrote here about vultures in Portugal and the fact that five Rüppell’s had been seen together in the Eastern Alentejo.

The White-rumped Sandpiper, which stayed until at least the 26th, is interesting as it is only the seventh record of this species in Portugal and it follows two others at Martinhal in 2009 and 2013.  Or does it?  What are the chances of three different White-rumped Sandpipers turning up in exactly the same place?  The 2009 bird was a juvenile; we believe the subsequent reports have referred to adult birds.  There seems no reason at all why this latest record (and last year’s) isn’t the return of the same bird and, who knows, it may well have remained undetected when making other visits to Martinhal.

White-rumped Sandpiper - Martinhal, November 2009

Perhaps because it was more of an oddity than a rarity, we omitted to mention in our earlier rarities roundup the hybrid Western Reef x Little Egret that we saw near Forte do Rato in Tavira on 19th September.  It looked very much like the bird that we had seen in the same place in September 2013 and we are reminded of it now because it seems to have moved to Spain.  See here a photograph that appears to be the same bird reported from Isla Cristina, Huelva on 26th October.

Western Reef x Little Egret hybrid - Tavira, September, 2013

No doubt November will bring more interesting birds to the Algarve; last year we had Eider, American Wigeon and Lesser Yellowlegs amongst others and from a previous November we recall a Red-breasted Flycatcher so there’s still time to look for passerine vagrants.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Algarve rarity roundup

The autumn rarity season in the Algarve opened with a 2nd-year male Red-footed Falcon seen near the Cabranosa raptor watch point on 8th September.  This was only the seventh record of this species for Portugal and the fourth for the Algarve.  Remarkably, a second Red-footed Falcon, a juvenile, appeared in the same area on 16th and 17th September.

A Pectoral Sandpiper was found at Martinhal on 13th September and the same day there was a report of a Marsh Sandpiper at Lagoa dos Salgados.  Photographs of the Marsh Sandpiper sparked a certain amount of debate and it will be interesting to see whether a supporting description of the bird proves sufficient to satisfy the Portuguese Rarities Committee.  Also at Lagoa dos Salgados, a White-winged Tern was a one-day bird on 17th September.

A Paddyfield Warbler was trapped and ringed at the Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura on 1st October.  This was only the second record of this species for the Algarve and the fifth for Portugal but there had been another one further north in the country just ten days earlier.  This a species that breeds mainly in Asia with the westernmost breeding population being along the Black Sea coast of Romania and Bulgaria; they winter in India and Pakistan, so definitely unexpected here.

Paddyfield Warbler (Scott Petrek)

Friday, 3rd October was the second day of the Sagres Birdwatching Festival and that ensured many people were present at Cabranosa to enjoy the sight of a juvenile Pallid Harrier.  Portugal’s first record of this species was as recently as 2011 but there have since been about a dozen reports that are awaiting the verdict of the Rarities Committee.  Pallid Harriers, the vast majority of which breed in southern-Asian Russia and northern Kazakhstan, are reported to be in steep decline as a result of the destruction and degradation of steppe grasslands in the breeding range and both habitat loss and the use of harmful pesticides on wintering grounds in Central Africa and India.

There was another Pectoral Sandpiper on 6th and 7th October, this time at a wastewater treatment lagoon near Faro and most recently, on the 14th, a Little Swift was reported from the Ria de Alvor.  Eleven previous records of this species have been accepted in Portugal, four of them in the Algarve but there are several others awaiting a decision.  The only previous October record was in 1997.  Little Swift has a predominantly Asian and African distribution but there is, of course, a small breeding population in Spain.

You can keep up with news of rare birds in the Algarve on Facebook but remember that ‘rare’ in this context refers to species that are subject to review by the Portuguese Rarities Committee and that may include some that are quite common where you live!

We look forward to some more rarities in the next few weeks...

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sagres and Salgados

Yesterday we made the long drive to Sagres and Cape St Vincent.  We looked in at the Fortaleza de Beliche, mingled with the many tourists around the lighthouse that marks the south-western extremity of mainland Europe,  drove out to the Vale Santo and then spent a couple of hours at the Cabranosa raptor watch point before making a brief visit to the port of Baleeira.  It’s a circuit that we have done many times.

We saw the expected Red-billed Choughs, Rock Doves, a Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstarts, a few off-shore Gannets and a very obliging Little Owl; it wasn’t a great day for passerine migrants but they included many Northern Wheatears, both Pied & Spotted Flycatchers and several Phylloscopus warblers.  Most of the interest, however, was in the sky above as Short-toed & Booted Eagles, Griffon & Egyptian Vultures, several Sparrowhawks, a Black Stork, a Hen Harrier, a couple of Black Kites, a Honey-buzzard, a Goshawk, several Common Kestrels and a probable Eleonora’s Falcon vied for attention.  Apparently a Spanish Imperial Eagle was seen later in the day, after we had left!  It is to be hoped that those attending next weekend’s Sagres Birdwatching Festival are as well entertained.

Northern Wheatear

On the way back east we called in at Lagoa dos Salgados for a couple of hours.  The lagoon has certainly been transformed by the restoration project that was carried out at great expense a few months back but in spite of promises about more control over water levels there was still more water than we might have liked.  At this time of year it would have been good to see a bit more mud around the edges and although there was a nice selection of waders we might have hoped for higher numbers.  Not surprisingly the newly created islands were covered in gulls, mostly fuscus and michahellis but also a few ridibundus and audouinii.  A Sandwich Tern and a Black Tern both made brief appearances.  There were a few Spoonbills, Great Flamingos and Cormorants and small numbers of common dabbling ducks.  Migrants included Yellow Wagtails, a Whinchat and several Northern Wheatears and at last we saw our first Bluethroat of the autumn.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


An African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) seen at the Estação Biológica do Garducho, near Mourão on 24th August is just the second record of this species for Portugal and only the fifth for Europe.

African White-backed Vulture (Tanzania)

It was seen at one of the vulture feeding stations set up in that part of Eastern Alentejo by the LIFE Lince Abutre project, which aims to contribute to the improvement of the survival, feeding and breeding conditions of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) and the Cinereous or European Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in southeast Portugal but also benefits several other threatened species.

European Black Vulture (Portugal)

Only three weeks earlier, there was a remarkable report of five Rüppell’s Griffon Vultures (Gyps rueppelli), another African species, also in the Eastern Alentejo.  Sightings of Rüppell’s Griffons in ones and twos have become regular in Portugal and Spain in recent years, most of them at Tarifa and Sagres, with some speculation about how many different individuals might be involved, so the occurrence of five together was very interesting.

Rüppell’s Griffon (Ethiopia)

It is assumed that Rüppell’s Griffons and now White-backed Vultures mix with wintering Eurasian Griffons (Gyps fulvus) in West Africa, and then come to Europe with them.  Rüppell’s has also tried to breed in Iberia, in hybrid pairings with Eurasian Griffons, but to date there has not been any evidence of success.

Eurasian Griffon (Portugal)

Last year a Rüppell’s Griffon was wing-tagged in Portugal, and was subsequently seen in France and Spain, confirming that these birds range widely across the continent.

So now we have six species of vultures to look out for: European Black, Eurasian Griffon, Rüppell’s Griffon, Egyptian (Neophron percnopterus), African White-backed and Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus).  Lammergeiers haven’t been seen here for a very long time but they have been re-introduced in Spain and individuals are known from satellite-tracking to have occasionally crossed the border to fly unseen over Portugal.

Egyptian Vultures (Ethiopia)

It is timely that we are writing about vultures as the first Saturday in September each year is International Vulture Awareness Day.  It also gives us an opportunity to draw attention once again to the on-line petition to ban the use in Europe of diclofenac, the drug that has been responsible for wiping out huge numbers of vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal.  You can read more about that here and here you can donate towards efforts being made by Birdlife International to save vultures in Europe and Africa from the fate that has befallen so many in Asia.

Vultures need our help!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Coming soon to a golf course near you?

This week, the American Birding Association Checklist Committee voted unanimously to accept the Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) as an established exotic in south-eastern Florida and added it to the official ABA Checklist.  Birds have been present in Florida for 20 years and there have been numerous records of breeding; without doubt the population is now self-sustaining. Although the species is found elsewhere in North America (e.g. Arkansas, California and Texas) those populations are not yet regarded as being established and presumably therefore are not ‘tickable’ but it seems likely to be just a matter of time.

Egyptian Geese were introduced to Britain as early as the 17th century and have bred in the wild for over 200 years.  Until comparatively recently they were more or less confined to Norfolk but there has been a gradual increase in numbers and fieldwork for Bird Atlas 2007-11 has shown a significant recent range expansion including scattered winter records from Shetland, west Wales, Cornwall and even Ireland.

In Holland, too, there has been considerable expansion and the population there has been estimated at about 11,000 pairs, or 50,000 individuals post-breeding.  There are also breeding populations in France and Germany.     

This week’s Noticiário Ornitológico included a record of 13 Egyptian Geese at the Alqueva reservoir near Évora in eastern Portugal, close to the border with Spain.  This continues the trend that we have seen this year for increasing reports of this exotic species in Portugal.  In June and July birds were seen in the Algarve at Lagoa dos Salgados.  These latest birds were seen on 23rd August south of Roncão and they represent the largest flock seen so far.  Not so long ago reports of Egyptian Geese were referred to as escapes from captivity but this description has now been dropped and the reality surely is that these birds are arriving from the established and expanding feral populations in Northern Europe.  

Two of the most obvious field marks of the Egyptian Goose are the chestnut eye patches surrounding its yellow eyes, and a brown chest patch.  There is also a brown stripe that forms a collar around the nape of the neck.  The bill is pink, with a black tip and a dark base. The male has green secondaries, but a large portion of the adult wing is white. The white usually remains hidden when the bird is at rest, however, the white wing feathers are easily seen when the bird is in flight. The under tail coverts are cinnamon colored:  the upper tail is black.  The sexes look alike, but the female is slightly smaller.  Juvenile birds are similar to adults but lack the distinct facial markings.

Of course, the Egyptian Goose isn’t really a goose at all; it is believed to be most closely related to the shelducks (genus Tadorna) and their relatives, and is placed with them in the subfamily Tadorninae.

Egyptian Geese are native to sub-Saharan Africa where they are widespread and numerous; we have seen them on most of our visits to Africa.  In many areas they are regarded as agricultural pests because they sometimes feed on or trample crops and in South Africa they occur in large numbers on golf courses where they cause physical and financial damage to the courses and are a nuisance to golfers and golf course managers.  In Holland they are reported to be aggressive towards breeding waders.  We do wonder therefore whether we should be looking beyond the novelty of having these birds arriving and instead considering the potential for them to quickly become an unwelcome nuisance.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Norfolk & Lincolnshire

It would seem that on Sunday the only rarities seen along the North Norfolk coast were June and Peter.  However, although there was nothing very unusual to see, we had a decent day’s birding and the weather was kind to us throughout.  We were strangers in what was once very familiar territory, visiting for the day with friend Keith Lievesley. 
We began at Titchwell (RSPB), moved on to Cley Marshes (Norfolk Wildlife Trust) and later on the way back had a good walk over Blakeney Freshes (National Trust).  Each area showed signs of the damage caused by the exceptional storm surge that took place on 5th December last year but it was remarkable to see how well they seem to be recovering.

A fairly relaxed day in this relatively uniform habitat produced a modest 72 species.  One of the most numerous of the waders was Ruff and it was the only one that we photographed.

So infrequent are our visits to Titchwell that we hadn’t previously seen the much-maligned Parrinder Hide.  We had read about it and seen it described as, amongst other things, “too posh”, “ridiculously expensive” and “a monstrosity” and certainly it does seem a bit over the top.  Just the size of it was a surprise!  Who would have imagined something like this when Norman Sills first came to Titchwell as the first warden in the early 1970s?

The hides at Cley Marshes are probably more to our liking - Daukes Hide is surely a much more attractive structure.  However, the visitor centre here, like the Parrinder Hide at Titchwell, is also a building that divides opinion.  The mere fact that it can be found on TripAdvisor is for some people enough to view it as a tourist attraction in its own right and it certainly houses a seriously commercial operation.  It was the first time we have been asked to sign for Gift Aid when paying an entrance fee for a reserve - but why not?

Daukes Hide

Cley Marshes Visitor Centres - the new and the old

It was the first time we have looked out to sea from Cley and seen not just passing seabirds but also about 90 wind turbines!  We still can’t bring ourselves to like them at all!  We preferred to look east along the shingle bank towards Sheringham.

Several times during the day we met people who have been birding with us either through Avian Adventures or Algarve Birders.  They were all first encountered at Titchwell, which has now perhaps replaced the East Bank at Cley as the place to bump into people you know or at least recognise.

The East Bank

Cley-next-the-Sea viewed from Blakeney Freshes

After our walk at Blakeney we drove to Wells-next-the-Sea and as we struggled to negotiate the narrow section of the A149 through Stiffkey we were looking forward to fish and chips.  When we arrived, long queues at both shops on the front were another reminder (as if we needed one!) that this was a Bank Holiday weekend.  We quickly decided that continuing to Hunstanton might be a better plan and so it proved although we cut it fine, being the last to be served before closing time at the excellent Supafry in Greevegate.

Monday could not have been more different; it was a public holiday and the weather performed accordingly, pouring rain no doubt ruining countless events that had been a long time in the planning.  We were not immune and suffered a good soaking during our visit to Deeping Lakes, a Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve, near Stamford.  We took a circular route through the reserve and along the bank of the River Welland, sheltering in a couple of hides while looking at various gravel pits where Great Crested Grebes were feeding young and Cormorants also seemed to be finding plenty of food.  An artificial Sand Martin nesting bank would have been more interesting to see earlier in the summer and we would love to see one like it in the Algarve.  June did at least get to see one of her favourite Green Woodpeckers, so our trip wasn’t all in vain.

This sign at Deeping Lakes appealed to us pedants.