Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Changing fortunes

The occasional occurrence in the UK of European Bee-eater, Blue Rock Thrush and Woodchat Shrike seems to do little to diminish the popularity of those species with British visitors to Portugal. In spite of being twitchable in Britain they retain a degree of rarity value, they are bright and colourful and they are still crowd-pleasers.

 European Bee-eater

Blue Rock Thrush

On the other hand, increasing numbers in the UK of species such as Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-winged Stilt and Spoonbill mean that these birds no longer feature as highly as they once did on the ‘wanted lists’ of those many birders who arrive here wanting to see ‘something different’.

Little Bittern

This change in the status of bird species does, however, work both ways.  For instance, we still have Turtle Doves in Portugal, maybe fewer than previously but we still see (and hear) them regularly. And we have Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, a species that by all accounts has become difficult to find in many if not most parts of Britain.

Eurasian Turtle Dove

Today was my first day back in the Algarve after three weeks away, part of which was spent leading an Avian Adventures tour in Arizona, more of which later.  While I was away I was alerted to the presence of a Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers’ nest not far from Tavira which might offer the possibility to photograph the birds once they are feeding young.  It was only when I got back that I received precise details of the location and much to my surprise it turned out to be exactly the same site where June and I watched and photographed Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in 2011.  Have they been nesting there regularly in the intervening years, I wonder?  I have to admit that we haven't checked.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (photo from 2011)

As usual, while I was away I missed a rarity here in the Algarve, this one actually in Tavira. Fortunately, this time it was ‘only’ a Red-necked Phalarope so not too much concern.  However, this species is a genuine rarity here requiring reports to the Portuguese Rarities Committee so it’s as well that June managed to photograph it.  A bird photo by June is probably rarer than the bird itself!

Red-necked Phalarope

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