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 all.lol!
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).
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.