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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Algarve birdwatching break part 2

Here we go then, part 2 of my recent trip to the Algarve and after spending a very productive few days on the East side part I picked up my mate Mark and we headed off to the wild West!

Sacred Ibis
First port of call was a hotel in Alvor ...hurragh! Comfy bed, catch up & banter, shower and breakfast in the morning after 4 days rough camping was very welcome for my body and spirits! The Western side of the Algarve is much more rugged than the East with high cliffs and pounding Atlantic seas but around Alvor the landscape is still estuarine and 'saltmarshy' and although wader numbers and species were noticeably less, a morning birdwatch around the area produced some good birds including Caspian Tern, Siskin, Quail, Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpiper and a rather surprising Sacred Ibis .... more of an African bird a few have wandered Northwards and established themselves around Iberian landmass.

Caspian Tern
What no Quail pics?!! Hah, that'll be the day ... I've never seen a Quail in the wild yet, just as well their call is so distinctive! Plenty of Yellow Wagtails around too ... all of the blue headed Iberian race of course and gorgeous as they are it was a talking point that in more than 25 years of foreign birding trips we'd never seen one of our own British race on our travels ... I wonder where they pass through most often?

Yellow Wagtail (Iberian race)
After Alvor we headed further West and spent a few days around the Cape St Vincent area, the weather took a huge turn for the worst with rain and poor visibility for much of the time but that didn't seem to deter a small flock of Bee-eaters dropping in (on the campsite we were on at Sagres) and also several Alpine Swifts amongst the Commons that dropped down after a cloudburst. 

Campsite at Sagres ... during a rare sunny interlude!

Cape St Vincent was a little too touristy for my liking with far too many people making too much noise and taking the same old pictures of the high cliffs there, but with little in the way of birds to see I ended up taking the same!


I did get lucky at a spot further up the coast (3rd of the pics above) with a fast flying male Ring Ouzel beating its way North along the cliff side, so fast I didn't even get the bins on it never mind the camera! Good bird to have. We also had a couple of Great Skuas, stacks of offshore Gannets, Short Toed Eagle, several Auduoins Gulls, Rock Buntings, a single Black Redstart and rather surprisingly 2 Green Woodpeckers flushed from the cliff side all in the same general vicinity, so not a bad haul for a blustery day!
Heading back Eastwards towards Faro we stopped off at the Salgados wetlands nr Pera where we had a dashing Hobby chasing waders, 3 Purple Herons in off the sea and our first Reed Warblers an area of good marshland habitat that is sadly threatened by the development of yet another holiday complex. Its an important and unique area on this stretch of coast for breeding and migratory birds such as Flamingoes, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamp Hen, Ferruginous Duck and Little Bittern, and attracts good numbers of eco tourists anyway without the need for more hotels, especially at a time when hotel occupancy in Portugal is at an all time low ... sheer madness! Both the RSPB and the SPEA (Portugal's equivalent) are campaigning hard to stop this folly and anyone can do their bit by signing the online petition here ....Save Salgados from the Developers
Sadly the weather closed in again whilst we were there and I didn't have much chance to get any good bird pics but I did manage a bit of the local flora, and managed to id most ....

Hottentot Fig


Unidentified .... working on it!

Bit of a nightmare end to the holiday, especially for Mark .... on returning to the car we were dismayed to see that it had been broken into and Mark's travel docs, passport and cash all gone, along with my rucksack! Caused all sorts of chaos for us both but thankfully all but the cash was found by the local police and we can laugh about it now!
Here's the promised list of all bird species seen .... quite impressive for 9 days!

Red-legged Partridge
Common Quail
Common Pheasant
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Common Shelduck
Red-crested Pochard
Black Scoter
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Greater Flamingo
White Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill
Sacred Ibis
Purple Heron
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
Lesser Kestrel
Common Kestrel
Eurasian Hobby
Peregrine Falcon
Black Kite
Black-winged Kite
Short-toed Eagle
Western Marsh Harrier
Hen Harrier
Montague's Harrier
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Eurasian Buzzard
Purple Gallinule
Common Moorhen
Common Coot
Eurasian Stone Curlew
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Black-winged Stilt
Grey Plover
Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Common Snipe
Bar-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
Spotted Redshank
Common Redshank
Common Greenshank
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Little Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Common Gull
Audouins Gull
Black Headed Gull
Lesser Black backed Gull
Yellow Legged / Herring Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Caspian Tern
Sandwich Tern
Great Skua
Rock / Feral Pigeon
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Common Cuckoo
Little Owl
Tawny Owl
Alpine Swift
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Common Kingfisher
European Bee-eater
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Great Grey Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Eurasian Jay
Common Magpie
Azure Winged Magpie
Common Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Common Chough
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Coal Tit
Sand Martin
Crag Martin
Barn Swallow
Red Rumped Swallow
Crested Lark
Eurasian Skylark
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti's Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Willow Warbler
Chiff Chaff
Sardinian Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Reed Warbler
Wood Warbler
European Starling
Spotless Starling
Ring Ouzel
Song Thrush
Eurasian Blackbird
European Robin
Common Nightingale
Black Redstart
Common Stonechat
Northern Wheatear
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Common Waxbill
Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Corn Bunting
Rock Bunting
Reed Bunting


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