Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Another Alentejo Day

At this time of year we are regular visitors to the plains around Castro Verde.  The area is simply full of birds, there are butterflies, there’s a wonderful display of wildflowers and there’s always a chance to see something else of interest, perhaps a snake, a lizard or maybe just an oil beetle.  Why wouldn’t we be up there as often as we can be?

The weather for our latest trip yesterday was warm enough but mostly cloudy so the light wasn’t particularly good for photography.  However, without too much heat haze, conditions were good for looking at distant birds through a telescope and that’s important!  No matter how often we complain to Swarovski, the problem of heat haze doesn’t seem to be one that they are able to overcome!  Being out early in the day is usually the best remedy but yesterday visibility was reasonably good throughout.

When the males are displaying, both Great & Little Bustards are easy to find and fun to watch.  We saw lots of them!  However, the raptors are a different story!  Species such as Lesser Kestrel and Common Buzzard are hard to miss but others require a certain degree of luck.  We think the numerous Montagu’s Harriers themselves make the trip worthwhile but yesterday we ended the day having seen 13 raptor species, which may not be any sort of record but is still fairly impressive.

 Black-eared Wheatear

Green Sandpiper

Amongst the day’s other highlights were Black-bellied Sandgrouse, European Roller, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Calandra Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Golden Oriole, Purple Heron, Stone-curlew, Blue Rock Thrush and a spiffy Green Sandpiper that was our latest ever in the spring.  We saw 75 species in total during a fairly relaxed day.  We can’t wait to go again! 

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