Monday, 23 November 2015

Birding mostly around Tavira

For much of the last week or so our birding has been restricted to our local patch - the Tavira and Santa Luzia area.  With most of the time spent around the saltpans and along the edge of the Ria Formosa it’s not surprising that we have seen mainly wetland birds.

 Tavira saltpans

 Santa Luzia saltpans

Estrada das 4 Aguas - roadworks are still unfinished and
birding here will never be quite the same again

There are only relatively few Greater Flamingos here now and Spoonbill numbers have also dropped as birds have continued their migration south into Africa.  However, after a period of absence, White Storks are now quite numerous and there are plenty of Little Egrets and Grey Herons to be seen.

Little Egret

Wader numbers have also fallen but there continues to be a good variety of species although for some reason, Golden Plovers have been conspicuous by their absence.

Common Greenshank

Numbers of Stone-curlews seem to be fewer than in some previous years but at least 20 birds are regularly present.  Sadly, the area that they have usually favoured continues to be subject to disturbance and disruption.


It’s still easy enough to find six species of gulls in the area but the flock of 500 Mediterranean Gulls that we were seeing earlier in the month seem to have moved on.  However, we counted 50 Slender-billed on the 18th November, which is an increase.

Slender-billed Gull 

We expect to find Caspian Terns and Sandwich Terns at this time of year but a Little Tern has also been seen on a couple of occasions.  A few Little Terns usually spend the winter in the mouth of the Guadiana River but otherwise they are normally gone from the Algarve by the end of October.

Even more surprising was the Whiskered Tern that we found, also on the 18th and seen for at least the following two days.  This is easily our latest ever record and only our second in November.

Whiskered Tern

The low bushes around the saltpans provide insect food for numerous Chiffchaffs, Zitting Cisticolas, Sardinian Warblers; Stonechats are common and it’s not hard to find a Bluethroat or two.

Sardinian Warbler

Raptors seen in the last few days have been Black-winged Kite, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier and Common Kestrel. 

Yesterday, by way of a change, we spent a couple of hours in the morning at the wastewater lagoons near Faro, tempted by a report of a Terek Sandpiper being seen there the previous day.  A light northerly wind has dropped the temperature here in recent days (to a maximum of about 18ºC) but it was a very pleasant, sunny morning.

 Northen Pintail

 Peregrine Falcon

 Eurasian Wigeon

We didn’t find a Terek Sandpiper but can hardly say we came away disappointed when we saw Peregrine Falcon, Marsh Harrier, Glossy Ibis (20+), Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Snipe (c.6), Common Sandpiper (c.12), Black-winged Stilt (c.15), Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Water Pipit, Bluethroat and Audouin’s Gull, plus hundreds of Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail and Wigeon and more than 50 Cormorants.  We particularly enjoyed watching the Peregrine as it flushed more and more ducks from unseen ponds in the surrounding area.   


Anonymous said...

Re Estrada das 4 Aguas,we can't believe our eyes! looks like using the car as a hide will be over. Selfish we suppose, and we are never there in summer to see how busy it is, but the road wasn't in bad condition when we left at the end of February.
Less than three weeks to go!!

Rob and Anne Hunt

Peter and June said...

You're right, Rob and Anne! There was obviously no thought given to birdwatchers when the plans were made for the road 'improvements'. The work isn't finished yet but we don't think birding from the car is going to be possible in future. There don't even seem to be any passing places or pull-ins. It's extremely disappointing!