We’ve had two further trips to Sagres where we have been lucky to see a good selection of raptors with a Lesser Spotted Eagle being the star bird. This species was first reported in Portugal in 2009 and was also seen in 2011, 2012 and 2013. All of these records have come in the autumn from the Sagres area so this year’s bird wasn’t a complete surprise. It was seen over a period of several days.
During the time we have spent at Cabranosa, the popular viewpoint, we have seen around a dozen other raptor species and quite a number of Black Storks - counting birds here isn’t an exact science as they circle around the area, going out of sight and then re-appearing.
There were also been plenty of passerine migrants in the Sagres area. We saw Ortolan Buntings, Northern Wheatears, Pied & Spotted Flycatchers, Yellow Wagtails, Common Redstarts and a decent selection of common warbler species. We also found a few Choughs.
An afternoon boat trip on 2nd October produced good numbers of seabirds. We estimated 300 Cory’s and 50 Great Shearwaters but no more than a handful of Balearics and just three Sooty Shearwaters. A couple of Great Skuas came close to the boat and about 10 European Storm-petrels were counted. There was just one brief sighting of a Wilson’s Storm-petrel. Gannets were surprisingly few.
We’ve also been in the Castro Verde area a couple of times. On both occasions we saw four eagle species (Spanish Imperial, Golden, Bonelli’s & Short-toed) while other raptors have included Griffon & Black Vultures, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite and Hen Harrier. The biggest surprise was to see two Mute Swans on a small reservoir near Alvares, the first time we have seen this species in Portugal other than as ornamental birds on golf courses. Where they have come from is anyone’s guess!
In the Algarve we have made multiple visits to Lagoa dos Salgados where we watched 500 Glossy Ibis flying into roost one evening and where we helped a couple of people who were understandably struggling to identify a Fulvous Whistling Duck that couldn’t be found in their field guide - another bird of unknown origin! The star bird here though was a White-winged Tern, seen in the company of a Black Tern for instant comparison.
We made two trips to see the team of ringers from the UK who were at the Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura for their ninth annual visit. No major rarities were caught this time but it’s always instructive to see birds in the hand and we met up with old friends. A full report on the week’s ringing should appear in due course on their website. Ferruginous Ducks, Booted Eagles and a Black-crowned Night Heron were species seen there but not ringed!
A Temminck’s Stint near Faro was probably the highlight amongst the many waders we have seen recently. Although not a rarity in the strict sense, it’s a species that we have seen less often here than some that we do have to submit a description for!
Needless to say, we have also been birding around Tavira and Santa Luzia, at Ludo and Quinta do Lago, at Olhão and at Castro Marim and, of course, we have been reading and reporting colour-rings.