Saturday, 14 November 2009

That Was The Week...

It’s been another busy week!

On Monday we made a rare visit to Quinta de Marim, location of the Ria Formosa visitor centre. From the somewhat dilapidated hides a selection of common ducks and waders could be seen and from the roof of the tidal mill (currently closed) we saw distant Spoonbills and Caspian Terns. A plan was recently announced by the Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e Biodiversidade (ICNB) which will see a much-needed investment of around 1 million Euros in this site over the next 18 months and we are told that by the spring of 2011 it will have been transformed. We look forward to it! A change that has already been made is the transfer of management of the wildlife rescue centre from ICNB to a private organisation, Aldeia

Our trip to Castro Marim on Tuesday produced 70 species most of which could have been predicted beforehand. They included Bluethroat (one of our favourites!), Slender-billed and Audouin’s Gulls and half a dozen Little Bustards but the highlight was a Booted Eagle that gave close views from several different perches after apparently bathing in the fresh water marsh. On a pleasantly warm and sunny morning it didn’t take long to dry out. Black-headed Gulls were feeding on olives, something we have seen on several previous occasions here and elsewhere. This feeding behaviour was reported from Greece several years ago and we wonder how widespread it is.

Black-headed Gulls

An excellent day in the Alentejo on Wednesday produced 70 or more Great Bustards but only a handful of Little Bustards. Black-bellied Sandgrouse were very obliging and we saw plenty of Griffon Vultures but the raptors were mostly Red Kites and Common Buzzards with only the odd Black-shouldered Kite. We saw our first Cranes of the ‘winter’ - at the time our estimate was of 300 birds but photographs have since shown that there were actually only 295!

Common Cranes

Red Kite

Common Buzzard

Thursday was our day off from birding but there was time for some photography around Tavira. The local Bluethroats are still not co-operating fully but a Zitting Cisticola and a Sardinian Warbler provided a couple of pleasing images. How many Sardinian Warbler images do we think we might need?

Zitting Cisticola

Sardinian Warbler

Friday saw us at Quinta do Lago and Ludo. A female (or perhaps juvenile) Common Scoter was a surprise here - it was preening continuously and looked as though it was probably oiled. Otherwise, it was the regular Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp-hen, etc and in the afternoon a nice selection of raptors: Osprey, Booted Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard.

Common Scoter

Today we checked on a few of the local birds around Tavira. Chiffchaffs are now here in big numbers and lots of Blackcaps are singing from the olive trees. Everywhere remains very dry and none of the little ponds where we did such a lot of photography at this time last year have any water. The 10-day weather forecast suggests the possibility of a shower of rain next Tuesday but otherwise it looks set to continue 'mostly sunny' with temperatures up to 21/22°C. Probably we shouldn't complain!

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