Monday, 28 May 2012

'Out and about in the Algarve'' images.

Carvoeiro Lighthouse.

Yellow-legged Gulls.


A highlight at Silves was watching a Storks nest! The male stork flew to the nest with a piece of floor tiling or something similiar and after placing it in the nest looked quite pleased with himself! The female decided after jiggle juggling the material that she didn't quite like it or the piece of cardboard that the male must have found, she ceremoniously dumped them out of the!

Quinta do Lago

Black-headed Weaver
Great Crested Grebe
Kentish Plover
Little Bittern (male)
Little Egret and Spoonbill
Little Grebe
Little Tern
Little Tern preening!
Purple Gallinule
An athletic Purple Gallinule
Purple Heron
Sardinian Warbler


Barn Swallow
Woodchat Shrike

Final post to follow later this week.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Out and about in the Algarve.

A treat was in store at Carvoeiro Lighthouse as whilst scanning the sea I spotted a pod of Dolphins, I reckon there were approximately 12 in the pod. Gulls were circling and following the pod as the Dolphins swam further and further away from view. My first sighting of Dolphins actually in the sea, magic!! A Kestrel was seen hovering several times, in fact Kestrels were quite regularly seen at all the areas visited on the holiday. Highlights at the Lighthouse were Spotless Starling, Blue Rock Thrush, Stock Dove, Sardinian Warbler, Sparrowhawk, Yellow-legged Gull and a Lizard that was too quick for me to get a pic of for any ID! A chance meeting was seeing Simon Wates arriving at a cafe as we were just leaving, time for a quick chat only as he was with clients on a Birding Day. I was lucky enough to have a day birding with Simon last year and can thoroughly recommend him if anyone is thinking of visiting the Algarve for Birdwatching and want to see birds that are hard to locate unless you know the quickest and best routes to see certain species. We were to see Simon again a few days later at Lagoa dos Salgados.

A walk along the River Arades at Silves is a joy as it is so peaceful and today it was peaceful with bird species! However Jay, Common Waxbill, Linnet, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Kestrel, Swift, White Stork, Swallow and House Martins were good to see and a Cetti's was heard only! A Monarch Butterfly was also spotted as it flitted in the Lavender beds. There is a Sensory Garden at Silves, which is good for insects and people alike!

Quinta do Lago is an area I always look forward to visiting as the Estuary is good for Waders and Gulls...well normally! On todays visit the tide was out so I hoped for plenty of Waders but there were just a few Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Turnstone and a super Little Tern! No Greenshank, Grey Plover or Whimbrel to name a few to be seen, nesting elsewhere perhaps? What there were plenty of on the mudflats were Crabs...hundreds of them! It was so funny seeing them dart in to a hole as you approached them, I have never seen so many crabs in one place before! A Little Egret and Two Spoonbill were seen further along the Estuary so there was still life there after! The hide at Quinta do Lago overlooks a lake that is alongside one of the Golf Courses, the lake today was also quiet of bird species. Highlight birds, though in small numbers were Purple Gallinule, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Pochard, Mallard, Grey Wagtail and a Purple Heron that came out of the reeds giving the closest views I have had of this species. Even greater highlights were a male Little Bittern that flew from the reed bed to the opposite side of the lake and stood in the open giving splendid views, my first male Little Bittern and what a super looking bird he was! A female Little Bittern flew through the lake a couple of times, brill.... male and female both seen in one day, I was a happy bunny! A Black-headed Weaver was seen several times flying in and out of the reeds, presumably nesting, a colourful bird to see but a difficult one to photograph as they never seem to settle in the open for any length of time. After all the excitement at the lake a walk in the wooded area was taken. Whilst looking in the vegetation on the way I spotted a Frog in a small channel of water and then spotted another not far away from it, I thought they were Natterjack Toads but I have since been reliably informed that they are Iberian Water Frogs! The male frog ( it was the smallest of the two frogs) started making a chirruping noise, I have read that the female selects a male by his ability to sing, well this one was singing quite nicely!

A short video of the frog singing:
Iberian Water Frog

Iberian Water Frog (female).
Iberian Water Frog (male)
Whilst looking at the frogs along with two couples from Germany who I had pointed the frogs out to, one of the gentlemen spotted a Chameleon in a tree close by where we were standing, it was just a few feet away! What a brilliant view we all had of the Chameleon, an absolutely stunning creature!
After all that excitement Siberian Warbler, Goldfinch, Hoopoe and Azure-winged Magpies were other species seen to end the visit at Quinta do Lago, a great day!

Alvor Estuary was also fairly quiet of bird life! We called in at Cruzinha the Field Study Centre to watch the Bird Ringing but was told that they had hardly had any birds in the mist nets for the past couple of days and things were not looking much better today. After a chat we drove down to the estuary for a look around. A single Black-winged Stilt and Mallard were the only birds to be seen on the Estuary and unusually for this area no Kentish Plovers today! However Stonechat (pair), Sardinian Warbler, Corn Bunting, Zitting Cisticola, Goldfinch, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Barn swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Martin (sp), Bee-eater, Kestrel, splendid views of a Woodchat Shrike pair and a Cuckoo heard saved the morning!!

Images from the areas visited to follow on the next post.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Algarve, Portugal.... 2nd-12th May 2012

The weather was cool, cloudy and showers of rain for the first 3 days of the holiday, fortunately the rain was throughout the night. From Saturday the weather was on track, dry and plenty of warm/hot sunshine, so it was birding and sunbathing for the remainder of the holiday! It was lovely to be back at Lagoa dos Salgados (known commonly by Brits as Pera Marsh) always my first port of call. Highlights on the Lagoon were huge numbers of Dunlin, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts aplenty, Greater Flamingoes in good numbers, an average of 6 Spoonbills regularly seen, Glossy Ibis x2, White Stork, Black Stork flyover, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Mallards, Gadwall, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover and a single Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank both in summer plumage were seen though distant and a short visit from a Caspian Tern was pleasing to see. There were literally hundreds of Swallows and Martins over the water early morning and at dusk with a few Swifts for good measure, a wonderful sight to see. Very few Crested Larks were to be seen though with them nesting it wasn't surprising, not many Zitting Cisticolas seen or heard and what was more surprising was that not a single Wheatear, Stonechat or Bluethroat was seen here after umpteen visits during the holiday. A pair of Stonechats were seen at Alvor Estuary so there are still Stonechats in the Algarve according to that! A Boardwalk was built alongside the Lagoon and Dunes a few years ago and I am sure this has had a detrimental effect on the wildlife which have possibly found quieter areas due to the increased traffic ie: Joggers, cyclists etc along the boardwalk. I suppose with the economy how it is and has been over the last few years tourism comes first ( as in many holiday resorts) for the Algarve. However a pair of Woodchat Shrikes were a very welcome sight and also the colourful and numerous Bee-eaters! Azure-winged Magpies were plentiful, Little Owl was spotted twice and Corn Bunting, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blackbird were seen on almost every visit. Whimbrel and numerous Cattle Egrets fed on the scrubland daily along with Red-legged Partridge.
Further posts to follow.

  Azure-winged Magpie.
Black-winged Stilt about to land!
Cattle Egret (Courtship colour).
Cattle Egret.
A sight to see when the Cattle Egrets try and hitch a lft!
White Stork.
Zitting Cisticola.
Greater Flamingoes.