Great Bustards are easy to see; Little Bustards are easy to hear but becoming more difficult to locate as the vegetation grows. Roadside fence posts and power poles and cables provide perches for countless Corn Buntings and Thekla Larks and a surprising number of Iberian Grey Shrikes; among them the prospect of an occasional Black-eared Wheatear, Tawny Pipit or Short-toed Lark keeps us alert. Yesterday we found an Ortolan Bunting, which was a surprise - an unusual bird in this area and on an early date.
Iberian Grey Shrike
The area is dotted with small reservoirs and ponds where Little Grebes and Little Ringed Plovers are frequent and Black-winged Stilts are often found. One or two of them have Collared Pratincoles breeding. We have particularly enjoyed watching the Pratincoles this week. They are such attractive birds and wonderfully confiding.
Nesting White Storks never lose their attraction and there are so many that we have given up trying to count them. There are nests on poles, in trees and on buildings and many of them have tenants living alongside the storks: House Sparrows, Spotless Starlings and Spanish Sparrows.
And it’s not just a visual experience! As well as the constant jangling song of the Corn Buntings and the zitting of Cisticolas, most of the water courses with any vegetation have Nightingales singing loudly. There are numerous Calandra Larks singing and displaying, Bee-eaters can frequently be heard passing overhead and where there is suitable habitat, often roadside eucalyptus trees, there is the sound of Golden Orioles.
No doubt we’ll be heading to the Alentejo again next week! Every day up there is different.