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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.