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Post Info TOPIC: Portugal


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RE: Portugal


Just had a week close to Vale do Milho golf, just outside Carvoeiro. Just a few observations from, and close to, the villa;

Azure Winged Magpies very common, including many youngsters. Very noisy and chasing the adults for food continuously. Would come and sunbathe in the garden.
A pair of Golden Oriole were also being chased around by their well grown youngster. Their flutey calls advertising their presence.
A pair of Sardinian Warbler played hide and seek around the shrubs in the garden.
A small mixed flock of House Sparrow, Goldfinch and Serin (including 5-6 juveniles) fed on seeds under a large evergreen tree.
Also in the garden Blackbird and Collared Dove.
Overhead House Martin, Swallow, Swift and Alpine Swift. Red-Rumped Swallow were also common and came and sat on the TV aerial, singing continuously.
Yellow-legged Gull common on roof tops and on the coast.
The occasional Kestrel over and, in mid evening, small numbers of Spotless Starling flying over to a roost site. One evening two Cattle Egret passed overhead.
Also entertained by Hummingbird Hawk Moths, Voilet Carpenter Bees and Swallowtail Butterflies around the Bougainvillea.

Away from the villa but in the adjacent area picked up a single Bee-eater, a single (singing) Blackcap and a Little Owl. On the Vale do Milho golf course Little Grebe had young on one of the small lakes (with three Muscovey Duck looking slightly out of place!).
Also had feral Fischer's Lovebird in the area.

Out on the coast a single Black Redstart and from the cliffs Cory's Shearwater moving through.


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Reserva Natural do Estuário do Teja

Arriving in Montijo on the Tagus Estuary (Lisbon), I was devastated to see a compound with a huge Ruston Bucyrus with a massive bucket attached along with a host of tippers and plant. What was once riverside scrubland was being converted into a new marina.

Next morning, first thing I found that my fears were unfounded. It wasn't long before I saw a black shoulder kite hunting (hovering) beyond the harbour build. Much of the scrubland has been cleared however a couple of islands still hold bluethroat, a very timid bird so a treasure to see.

My last visit here was in November 2014 when I used public transport to get around. As I was staying in Lisbon this proved a little time consuming and so on this trip I took the plunge and hired a car, deciding to stay on the south side of the river where I felt much closer to the birding. Having only three days (four nights), this proved beneficial. (TRYP Montijo Parque Hotel information on any travel website).

Just before lunch on my first day, I set off along route E118 looking to visit the heart of the Tejo Reserve. Cork woodland lined the road and I was tempted to call in on one of the wineries on route but my temperance held for which I am very happy. The reason being I got a lifer in a Wryneck. In the area I also found yellow wagtail, northern wheatear, stonechat, whinchat, kestrel, buzzard and marsh harrier. On my second day to the area I also bagged (not a lifer but still a find), great grey shrike.

Even though it was late September the temperature was around 25°C and with the sun dipping in the sky I returned to Alchochete. The promenade is west facing and a glorious sunset highlighted a flighty flock of sanderlings with a few turnstones as passengers.

Last day found me firstly spending time riverside in Montijo the back to Alchochete and a park (Sitio das Hortas) which borders the Tagus Reserve. Highlight of this day were the thousands of flamingos feeding within the estuary and a hoopoe that I flushed up onto a telegraph wire. I also caught another Wryneck along with Sardinian warbler and Cetti's warbler

Listed birds seen:

Sandwich tern, Kentish plover, Bar-tailed godwit, Common sandpiper, siskin, house sparrow, black redstart, chaffinch, cattle egret, little egret, cormorant, blackbird, jay, great tit, blue tit, willow warbler, crested lark, yellow wagtail, turtle dove, heron, spoonbill, sparrowhawk, purple gallinule, black winged stint, ringed plover, Mediterranean gull, great spotted woodpecker, swallow, house martin, waxbill, zitting cisticola, rook, carrion crow.

Two birds that evaded me on this trip are Osprey and Azure-winged magpie, both of which I saw in November last year.

TAP and Easy Jet both fly direct to Lisbon which is a 2 ˝ hour flight. Lisbon and Pena Palace are both a delight should you want to make a holiday out of the trip.


-- Edited by Kevin Forde on Monday 5th of October 2015 12:15:28 PM

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I got back from a week in Portugal yesterday, and my first taste of birding abroad fitted around a family holiday. We stayed in Albufeira in a villa and I was mainly birding around the scrub, orchards and lemon groves heading away from the beach. I also had a morning over at Vilamoura. The number of House Sparrows around really surprised me, they were everywhere. Also really common compared to the UK were Collared Doves and House Martins. Slightly weird was a complete lack of crows or Woodpigeon. It was about 35 degrees at the start of the week but got slightly cooler and breezier by the end, a mere 30-31.

I saw 18 new species, which I was pretty pleased with. Most were common birds but a couple were decent. It started at the villa, in the first hour after we arrived I saw Serin, Azure-winged Magpie and Red-rumped Swallow.

At teatime I walked up a road heading out of the resort area and in a smallholding type field I saw a juvenile Woodchat Shrike on some garden canes. Really happy as this was a bird I was really looking forward to seeing. I watched it hunt for a bit and noticed a trio of Crested Larks in the same place. So that was 5 new birds on the first day! I liked the Larks too, enjoyed them running about.

Next day walking down to the beach I saw a male Sardinian Warbler. Also numerous big gulls around, I had a good look at a few and was happy they were Yellow-legged. In reality that is the only big gull you'd expect to see from what I could tell. They were big too, I feel a lot happier about trying to pick one out from a load of others back at home now. What was interesting was that their calling and screeching veered from being really like Herring Gull to being quite different. At times it was like being down in Devon listening to them wailing, but the basic call was quite different. The other interesting thing was that they didn't seem very tame; I'm used to obnoxious Herring Gulls trying to steal chips!

A family of Kestrels were showing well on the beach too, it looked like they might have nested up on the cliff. But apart from that it was really quiet on the shoreline. It was strange if you're used to Oystercatchers and lots of Gulls around. I did see a couple of Mediterranean Gulls, which I thought was great being on the Med. Then my dad pointed out it wasn't the Med anyway...

As we sat in the garden of the villa late on the Monday evening I heard a bit of noise and looked up to see a pair of Nightjars flying round one of the big pine trees! I saw a couple of wing claps and heard a funny call which reminded me of a remote key fob for a car. Subsequently this was placed as the song of a Red-necked Nightjar. So that was pretty cool, 2 of them from the garden. No sign later in the week though.

On another walk up to the Shrike location I saw a Hoopoe and I also found a juvenile Orphean Warbler, trying to catch butterflies. Also a lovely pair of Zitting Cisticolas around some brambles on one of the many rough bits of land and numerous sightings of Starlings, which I put down as Spotless largely on the calls being different when they were perched chattering to each other. Confirmed it visually too of course. Also great on one of my earlier walks at around 8am was a group of 10 or so Red-legged Partridge.

On the Thursday I got the bus over to a place called Rocha Baixinha, which is a beach down the shore from Vilamoura. I was going to head for the Parque Ambiental based on the reports in this thread and this meant walking down the road behind the beach to the Marina and then back up the far side of the reserve to where the various GM birding folk have been. In the end I didn't need to bother though. When I got to the open ground behind the beach I picked up a Marsh Harrier distantly so I started walking over a field to get closer. I picked up a small flock of around 10 Cattle Egret snuffling around some goats and then I found a juv Woodchat Shrike. Then I found 3 mean dogs, so I did one. Scanning for the Marshie again, I picked up a smaller raptor. It perched on the TV mast which looms over the area. Clearly not a falcon as the wings were not pointed enough. It actually looked like a Sandwich Tern in proportions with a short boat-like tail squared off.

As I bashed over another scrubby field to get close to the TV mast there were Zitting Cisticolas, Linnets and Goldfinches buzzing about. I hadn't seen any Goldfinches in the urban areas at all, which was interesting. Then a Little Owl burst out from a small barn and flew off. I jumped about 3 feet in the air! The raptor had moved position by now, and was perched on a telegraph wire. Another smaller bird was next to it, which I took for a Swallow, but it took off and I was watching my first ever Bee-eater! Superb. I watched it catching insects and doing that shaking beak thing they do. Awesome to watch. There were actually around a dozen about. I had some cracking views, one glided over my head about 30 yards above. Wonderful.

Meanwhile my perched raptor was evidently mainly light in colour and had a fork in its tail. No real surprises then when it took off and showed black primaries and a pair of black patches on its wings around the shoulders! A beautiful Black-winged Kite. I watched it circle round and soar effortlessly up to height on the thermals. What a cracking sighting, I had been hoping to see one and I hadn't imagined it being so straightforward. No further sign as it presumably ranged over the area.

I had reached a big channel which stopped me heading through to the reserve area but it clearly wasn't stopping me seeing these great birds. I saw a Kingfisher on the channel amongst dozens of hirundines, including plenty of Red-rumped Swallow. Also a single Stonechat, a proper scruff too, like many of the birds I saw. The Kingfisher and a Jay around the villa were quite dark looking too. I picked up another couple of juvenile Woodchat Shrikes on my side of the channel and as I walked towards them a Turtle Dove zoomed out of some bushes straight past me. My first ever, so I'm on lifer 3 at this point! A useful lesson for me to take things a bit slower too. That was the second flushed bird because I was so pumped up looking at all the new cool stuff. It must have been in the middle of the bush though.

When I looked round again an adult Woodchat Shrike was about 50 yards away! They are so handsome. I eventually got views from about 20 yards, it was awesome, a female. There were 3 juvs in total in the area plus my earlier one, so that was 5 for the morning. A really sublime hour or so watching them, bliss. 2 Hoopoes flew by and a couple of Crested Larks were present too. Also nice was the Marsh Harrier coming up again to glide over the area, showing well as an adult female. As I turned to head home I saw a big Grey Heron flapping over (not Purple sadly), then I noticed a similar sized bird in the far distance, but it was white. A White Stork clearly, and the fourth new bird of the day. It was never close but absolutely unmistakeable.

I bagged another lifer from the villa on Friday as I noticed a fairly big flock of hirundines and a couple of Swifts amongst. Idly looking through them, a massive swift with a white belly and throat glided through, so that was an Alpine Swift. Made me start looking for Pallids a bit harder! On Saturday I headed inland a couple of miles to try and get to some open country and the slim prospect of some good raptors, but it wasn't really possible. I did find a nice little wood with some cork oaks, which are smashing trees. I heard some cheeping and after some cat and mouse a small brown and yellow bird popped into view. This was a very nice find as I had been hoping for Melodious Warbler and the calls were matching the Collins descriptions well, so it was great to dig it out eventually. There were 2 about but I only got decent views of one. Not a lot else about, 3 Cattle Egrets over was the next best sighting

Finally, on the Sunday morning as we glumly packed up and waited for our taxi to the airport, I noticed a few birds in the pine trees. I was sure one was a Chiffchaff and probably an Iberian at that, and there were some interesting calls in there. What I didn't expect was a Crested Tit to hop out in front of me! So that was lifer 18, and the 6th from the villa.

In terms of 'not sures' the Chiffchaff was interesting, I also saw a bird that looked quite good for a juv Rose-coloured Starling. On the 'other wildlife' front, some cool sightings:
Fiddler Crabs in the mud at Vilamoura
Cicadas, extraordinary noise and more or less impossible to work out how, even when you're staring at one making it!
Brown Hare to 20 yards, not bothered by me at all really
Swallowtails
Cuttlefish in a rockpool, about the size of a 50p piece but blew a little ink jet anyway
Sand Lizard, the size of a Stoat at least, looked more like a Komodo Dragon in the bins!
Mackerel at the surface eating sprats, 100 yards off the beach. My mum did the ID on them, I had no idea! They "make the water boil" as Brixham fishermen apparently have it

I had a brilliant time in a lovely area. It was great fun trying to ID all the new birds and contrast them with more familiar ones. I am already thinking about how and when to get back out there, as my trip list was only 44 in the end...


-- Edited by Simon Gough on Monday 13th of July 2015 12:25:37 PM

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We're just back from a very enjoyable week on the Algarve. The weather was baking hot, low thirties most days, so the sun cream was applied liberally. We stayed once again in Vilamoura and had a day in the Baixo alentejo region for a spot of birding. The week was broke up evenly between the beach and walking/birding.
Birds seen around the hotel grounds notably were good numbers of greenfinch, a pair of jays, a kestrel and a hoopoe. On our previous visit, we had noticed a pair of peregrines on the Tivoli hotel at the marina. This year sadly we only noticed the male. Other birds seen around the marina notably were fantastic numbers of hirrundines, house martins in particular. Their nests seem to be in every available space under the eves of buildings around the marina. One species of bird that took me by surprise at the marina were a delightful colony of little terns. They seemed to turn up daily around early evening for a spot of fishing.
Across the marina, about a 10 minute walk is the Parqe Ambiental, which translates roughly as Environment park. This area contains reed beds, (2 hides) arable farmland, orchards, woodland, golf courses and a water tratment plant. On our previous visit we found this area a fantastic place for birding. As the weather was so hot, and the area so vast, we only covered this area once, Birds notably consisted of, Corn buntings, crested larks, hoopoes, azure winged magpies, stonechats, a pair of marsh harriers, a black winged kite, a kestrel, herons, storks, little grebes, zitting cisticolas, a grasshopper warbler, cettis warblers, sardinian warbler, reed warblers and serins. I am pretty sure I heard a great reed warbler in reeds around a pond on a golf course. Also saw the weaver birds and waxbills close to the water treatment plant. The weaverbirds nests are worth a viewing alone!
Onto the Baixo Alentejo with Simon Wates. This area is beautiful, make no mistake. It is about an hours drive from Vilamoura and is a haven for birds. If you get the chance, you should go. Birds seen, notably, in no particular order, montagues harriers, booted eagle, a pair of displaying short toed eagles, (the male was holding a large snake) kestrels and lesser kestrels, marsh harriers, a distant golden eagle displaying and a distant perched bonellis eagle. Black and griffon vultures, black kites a family party of black winged kites and a single common buzzard. Three little owls were seen 1 in particular giving great views. Southern grey shrike were everywhere, on overhead cables and fence posts with the odd woodchat shrike thrown in for good measure. Thekla, callandra and crested lark, also the odd black eared wheatear. We also had the pleasure of two pairs of roller. Also bee-eaters, a kingfisher, great bustards, cattle egrets and storks everywhere. Another memorable sighting was crag martins doing their stuff close to a bridge, but the highlight of the day was a rufous bush robin singing from a shrub close to the river. The sound of the song and the sight of the upright tail was special through the scope/bins. Also close views of collared pratincole and little ringed plover.
Back to vilamoura. Just behind the marina, across the main road we found a park containing a reedbed/ pond, and a good number of stonepines. We decided to explore this area in the hope of seeing crested tits. The park itself isn't too big so we walked around the stonepines listening for the crested tits. It didn't take long to locate them to an area, but actually seeing them was a different matter. We did manage brief glimpses, and I did get a couple of record shots with the camera, but they tended to stay deep in the cover of the pines. Also surprisingly, we saw a male whinchat on the fenceposts around the reed/bed ponds.
Overall a good trip. I would thoroughly recomend Vilamoura for the holiday/birding combo. We'll be back!


-- Edited by David Duncan on Monday 25th of May 2015 09:33:31 AM

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Holidayed in southern Portugal again this year from 25th October to 1st November. Great weather again, mainly sunny, afternoon temperatures mid 20s celsius. Staying in Vilamoura, birding pre 9am apart from a morning at Ria Formosa and a couple of hours in the Lagoa de Salgados area.

Birds in the area to the west of Vilamoura including Parque Ambiental were similar to October 2013 although there didn't appear to be as many ducks or Song Thrushes which may be another indicator of the delayed movement south of migrant thrushes but there were much larger numbers of Corn Buntings, Crested Larks and Spanish Sparrows around, also huge numbers of Chiffchaff.
Additional notable birds seen this time were Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Reed Warbler, Black Redstart, Common Snipe, a single Sand Martin and a smart male Black-headed Weaver.
Other good birds seen were 2 or 3 Marsh Harriers, 2 Booted Eagles, Ferruginous Duck, Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern a few Hoopoe and a Black-shouldered Kite that was seen on 5 occasions the final sighting being the best with scoped views of it perched atop a low tree less than 70 mtr away, like being caught in the gaze of a reverse Medusa it melts you completely, surely the most beautiful visage in the avian world and perhaps the ancient Egyptians inspiration to a paint black around their eyes.

From the beach at Vilamoura 2 Great Skua, 1 Common Scoter, patrolling Sandwich Terns, an adult and a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull and many Gannets diving for fish some quite close to shore. Also moving along the beach and sea in the evenings were hundreds of Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls heading east to roost.

One early morning I visited an area of the Ria Formosa at its western end. This was an area of saltpans with a tidal channel, a couple of small fresh water lakes and views on to the Ria Formosa.
The first saltpan I arrived at had a nice array of waders, lots of Dunlin, Sanderling, Avocet and Redshank, a few Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover and a probable Marsh Sandpiper. This mixed flock was very skittish and were constantly taking flight and moving further away so I couldnt get a definite ID on the Marsh Sandpiper but it appeared to have a straight slender bill looking a lot different from the much heavier and slightly upturned Greenshank bills. I made the mistake of moving on quickly from here wrongly assuming that the whole area would hold similar numbers of waders but this was by far the best and largest flock I saw in the area I covered.
The first fresh water lake had lots of Wigeon, Shoveler and Coot with a few Pochard, Gadwall and Little Grebe.
The next lake adjacent to a golf course (it seems everything in the Algarve is adjacent to a golf course) had a raised hide to view from, there were large numbers of Shoveler here, a few Pintail, Mallard and Gadwall a couple of Ferruginous Ducks and Kingfisher, a Little Bittern flew across the lake and lots of Purple Swamphen were dotted around the reed margins. A nice flock of Serin and Goldfinch were in the scrub behind the hide.
The route then followed a straight causeway for a couple of Kilometres giving views onto the Ria Formosa on one side and the tidal channel the other. Along here were many Sardinian Warblers and a few Chiffchaff, other waders seen along the Ria were Turnstone, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel also Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos, Marsh Harrier and a couple of Caspian Terns.
The route then turned inland between an area of saltpans, along here were more Greater Flamingos, Great-crested Grebes, Little Egret a few hundred Coot and a nice flock of 19 Audouins Gulls resting in the middle of a saltpan. This track re-joins the access road at a farm, from this area 12 Booted Eagles in the same avenue of view were seen and a circling flock of 15 White Stork. The Saltpans to the north of the road held the largest number of Flamingos and also lots of Black-winged Stilts plus a few Common and Green Sandpipers.

Birds seen around the Lagoa de Salgados one windy afternoon included Red-crested Pochard, Mediterranean Gull, 2 Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, 1 Spoonbill, 1 White Stork, 2 Sanderling, a few Lapwing and a large flock of Glossy Ibis (apparently over 500 had been counted in the preceding days). A flock of 50 plus Linnet were on the dunes with a few Sardinian Warblers, Chiffchaff and Meadow Pipit in the scrub, also it was a surprise to see a Common Magpie land on the boardwalk handrail, not a common bird in southern Portugal although I believe they are beginning to be seen more often. An Iberian Grey Shrike and a Hoopoe were in an area of scrub about 1.5Km west of the lagoon.

Other notable birds for the holiday were lots of Cettis and Fan-tailed Warblers, Blackcaps, Stonechats, Waxbills, Barn Swallows. Azure-winged Magpies were very numerous. Large flocks of Cattle Egrets could be seen post roost in the early mornings on the cut grass of the golf courses. One evening a roost of 300 plus White Wagtails gathered around the Casino at Vilamoura. The water treatment works near Parque Ambiental had unbelievable numbers of Little Grebe as it did in 2013.

The Algarve is fantastic at this time of year and well worth a visit, the birding is close to the resorts and with a little effort some great birds can be seen.


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Just back from a week in Vilamoura, it was our first time on the Algarve and what a fantastic place to take in a bit /lot of birding. As soon as we arrived we had a quick walk around the beach and marina to get our bearings. We got a good taster of what was to come spotting good numbers of sardinian warblers around the beach, a pair of peregrines on the Tivoli hotel and huge numbers of house martins and swallows around the marina. Good numbers of spanish? sparrow and blackbird. I'm not an expert on gulls, but some of them here seemed huge.
Parque Ambiental is an area of reedbed and arable farmland on the outskirts of vilamoura, it contains 2 hides and you need the best part of a day to take it all in. Here we saw unbelievable numbers of cettis warblers and fan tailed warblers or zitting cisticola. Raptors included marsh harrier and lesser kestrel. Around the reedbeds we saw purple swamp hen, little grebe, weaver bird, purple heron and a little bittern. Also there are two types of swallow tail butterfly found here and good numbers of turtle/terrapin? Around the thin conifer trees we found good numbers of serin, a first for us, and found them to be quite vocal. Another first was a type of waxbill, usually found feeding in numbers on the floor. Other birds seen were linnet, greenfinch, goldfinch, crested lark and corn bunting.
On the tuesday we had a days birding with Simon Wates. Unfortunately Tuesday wasnt the best day, being overcast, but at least it didnt rain. Simon is originally from Manchester but has been living in Portugal for years. His knowledge is vast and without him we simply wouldn't have seen half the birds. Highlights of the day were booted, short toed, spanish imperial and golden eagle, griffon and black vulture, common and lesser kestrel, black kite, montague harrier and common buzzard. Roller, bee eater, crag martin, collared pratincole, great and little bustard, black winged stilt, southern grey shrike, woodchat shrike and a particular unforgettable view of a nightingale singing. Another memorable moment was when Simon spotted a great spotted cuckoo and called in. Simon also took us to a stork colony. Storks are a common sight all over Portugal and their nests are huge.
Other birds seen around the Vilamoura were hoopoe, green woodpecker, azure winged magpie, woodchat shrike, mistle thrush and stonechat. I am sure I've missed one or two species, but I hope I've given an idea. If you are looking for a bit of birding close to the beach, with a bit of sun, Vilamoura might be for you.


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Had a holiday in southern Portugal last week 27th Oct to 3rd Nov, staying at Vilamoura. A non-birding trip, if there is such a thing. Binoculars somehow fell into my suitcase, Whoops.
Wall to wall sunshine, temperatures low to mid 20s.

After relaxing for three days with birds seen from the hotel being White Stork, Booted Eagle, Azurewinged Magpie, Yellow-legged Gull, Chiffchaff , Jay and Blackbird I decided to have an afternoon wander across the Marina to a local nature reserve just west of the town. Eventually I came to a road bridge with a view over a reed fringed pool which turned out to be a fantastic place to spend an hour or so viewing from the bridge. Birds seen around this area were Kingfisher, Purple Swamphen, Waxbill, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Fan-tailed Warbler, Stonechat, Crested Lark, Shoveler 120+ were spooked by something unseen and flew to the front of the pool, White Stork, Coot, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier 3 seen together, Kestrel, Cormorant, Little Grebe 20+, probable distant Red-crested Pochard, 1 House Martin, a few Barn Swallow, many Cettis Warblers were singing. Also there were a few Monarch butterflies in the general area. Beyond this pool which is actually outside the reserve area I could see hundreds of birds skimming across the reeds and fields of the reserve itself. After this afternoon visit I decided to get out at dawn next day for a couple of hours before breakfast and managed about an hour or so at the same vantage point, other birds seen were Hoopoe, Red-legged Partridge, Crested Lark and a pair of distant Penduline Tits at one point all the ducks and Coots shot out of the reeds into open water and 3 Otters appeared together, obviously perceived as a threat by the waterfowl.

The following day we hired a car which allowed me to get onto the reserve for about 1 ˝ hours before breakfast. Found a place to view over the lagoons of a water treatment works on the edge of the reserve where there were 8 immature Greater Flamingos, a few Tufted Duck, Pochard, Cattle Egret, 60-70 Little Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull and Black-headed Gull. I then walked down a track at the side of the lagoons to try and find the hides. This area was alive with warblers. Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Fan-tailed, Cettis and Sardinian Warblers in the hundreds, I have never seen so many birds that werent in a flock every tree or bush seemed to have 4 or 5 birds in it. I managed to pick out a Yellow-browed Warbler along here, more Waxbills and an immature or female Weaver Bird of some sort, Kingfisher, Moorhen and then a close Booted Eagle perched on a low dead tree that then had a spat with a passing Marsh Harrier. Then a highlight when I was able to watch a domestic cat walking casually along a field margin towards me being followed noisily by Stonechats, Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Blackbirds, Fan-tailed and Sardinian warblers even a Cettis that was perched high in the grass giving vent to its disapproval of the interloper, Fantastic!! I managed to get to one of the two hides but this one didnt allow a great view of the pool it overlooked with only a couple of Gadwall and a few Coots seen from here.

Next day I decided to get to the same place before light to try and get some time at the farthest hide, on the way a distant large flock of mainly Cattle Egret left a roost and I picked out an Ibis spec. most likely Glossy amongst them. I managed to get to the hide by 7am just before sun up. This pool had many more birds on view lots of Pochard, Shoveler, Coot, and Little Grebe. 8 Ferruginous Duck, 4 Red-crested Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard, Moorhen and Purple Swamphen. Had close open views of a Swamphen feeding by breaking some reeds to form a platform to stand on then reaching its head as far under the water as possible to grab a reed stem and pull like crazy to try and break it off, sometimes losing grip and almost falling backwards or slipping off the platform but ultimately successful and then gripping the reed in its extraordinary feet peeling off he tough outer skin and nibbling at the white flesh a bit like Bugs Bunny eating a carrot, amazing feeding strategy. As always Marsh Harriers could be seen by scanning around and one had settled in a field by the hide.

Had a trip out to the area around Sagres at the extreme south west where there was a promontory protected by an old fort turned into a tourist attraction, birds seen around here 2 Peregrine Falcons, Crag Martins, Sardinian Warbler, Meadow Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Stonechat, Chiffchaff, Crested Lark, Blue Rock Thrush, Linnet, Red-billed Chough and lots of Black Redstarts, some stunning males amongst them. Out at sea a small flock of 12 Common Scoter were off the headland, a Sandwich Tern hunted behind the surf at the local beach and lots of Gannets could be seen diving further out with 1 or 2 juveniles close to shore.

Possibly the best highlight of the holiday bird wise was a visit to the pool by the road bridge as the sun set. As I got to my regular perch on the bridge I was struck by the chatter of birds that turned out to be Starlings (probably Spotless but couldnt be certain due to low light and distance) sat in the low trees and shrubs around the pool with more coming in. Chiffchaff were popping up out of the reeds fly catching all around the pool, a pair of Stonechat and Fan-tailed Warblers were on the gorse at the side of me, a Waxbill flock landed in the reeds barely 10ft away, a Sardinian Warbler flew by close into a tree, then a Cettis shot across the channel just by the bridge and landed in full view, as I watched this through the binoculars a movement caught my eye in the same view, a female Penduline Tit was flitting around the reeds, amazing to watch it flying in and out of the stems almost like a bee. It then settled on a reed in full view and promptly fell asleep. A Marsh Harrier drifted low over the pool which brought up a large part of the ever increasing starling flock and I was treated to a brief display as the harrier flew on. 2 Great Egrets and a Grey Heron were roosting on top of a low tree, a Little Egret flew in to the rear of the pool, and Little Grebes were squabbling in the reeds just in front of me. Whilst all this was going on I kept an eye on a Cormorant at the back of the pool that had eaten a fish that it couldnt swallow, it swam up and down with its bill pointing skyward and a massive bulge in its neck for about 10 minutes before finally getting the fish down. I had a look for the Penduline Tit again and sure enough it was still there. Then with the light fading fast the unmistakeable silhouette of a Black-winged Kite flew across the pool and then moments later a Little Bittern flew out of the reeds just in front of me and landed high in the reeds a short distance away. I checked the time; I had been there 45 minutes, what an amazing place at this time of year.

Other notable sightings at the pool and on the reserve. Even closer views of a young Penduline Tit at the side of a hide, another sighting of 2 otters, Black-winged Kite hunting over open ground near the pool and bridge, 2 Booted Eagles perched at the top of adjacent trees, a Cetti's Warbler gave a burst of its song sat on a chain link fence, Corn Buntings could be heard all around the reserve. Also there seemed to be very large numbers of Song Thrushes but these were very shy and would usually be seen at distance flying low across the fields or darting out of bushes and disappearing straight into cover again, I only managed to see 1 on the ground out in the open.

These sightings were made with 3 morning visits, 2 afternoon and 1 early evening all of no more than 2 hours max each, plus the incidental sightings near Sagres. For anybody looking to get some easy, amazing birding in with decent weather and less than 2 1/2 hours flight from Manchester I cant recommend this area enough. There are also other larger reserves along the coast for a more serious effort as well.


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just back from holiday on the Algarve.Stayed in albufeira and had a guided day out.The guide was simon wates and I can thoroughly recommend him.He has lived in Portugal for 17 years and speaks Portuguese fluently.He took me to an area called baixo alentejo.It is north of the Algarve and is sparsley populated with just one small town called castro verde.The area is mainly steppe which goes on forever.It is a protected area which is a godsend for some of the rarieties. We saw about 20 great bustard and what a fantastic sight it is to see them in flight.We also encountered 12 little bustard.These 2 species must be observed at a distance as they are very rare and very wary of being approached.Cattle egrets were everywhere as were white storks.We also saw one black stork.Moving on to raptors many lesser kestrels live here and one colony of over 60 pairs were nesting in an abandoned railway station.Holes and nest boxes have been made for them and they have certainly taken advantage.An incredible sight to see so many kestrels at one time.Also taking advantage of the nesting site were a few rollers.What a beautiful bird!!.further raptors seen were black and red kites,buzzards, a single marsh harrier and lots of montagus harriers.This terrain is perfect for them and allowed quite close views as they hunted the steppe.I was enthralled watching them.A single booted eagle soared above us and then a moment to remember as we spotted 2 large birds in the distance.They landed in a tree and were identified as Spanish imperial eagles.We could only watch them with the scope as simon would not approach them.Nevertheless a great thrill.Also seen in this area were 2 black bellied sandgrouse 2 red legged partridge 5 stone curlew and 2 quail.The whole area is awash with larks of which we saw.crested,thekla,calandra and short toed.Around a man made reservoir we saw gull billed tern,collared pratincole,black winged stilt and little ringed plover.We then moved into another protected area with many more trees and some higher ground.From here we saw lots of griffon vultures and a single black vulture.We also visited an eagle owl nest site.The parents were absent but a well grown chick stared at us with huge orange eyes and long tufted ears.On the way back down we saw woodchat and Iberian grey shrikes and a family of Dartford warblers.Also seen around here were bee eaters and black eared whetears.Wherever you went there were swifts and house martins.We also saw a crag martins colony under a bridge.Another very common bird was azure winged magpie.Away from the steppe they were everywhere even on the outskirts of albufeira.Also seen was a little owl, Spanish sparrows,spotless starlings,corn buntings,ravens and stonechats.In albufeira itself were hundreds of yellow legged gulls,pallid swifts and a real bonus in a colony of alpine swifts.all in all a great and very long day out with 13 lifers.If your ever on the Algarve contact simon for a days birding you will never forget.

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Out again today

Little Bittern!! Not sure how rare these are here, but this is the best bird I think I've ever seen, other than the Beeeater.

Woodchat Shrike - only knew this is I'd been looking at one on the web before going out. Great views.

Crested Lark

Loads of others that I couldn't identify - and thanks to the members for identifying my mystery bird as a Bar-Tailed Godwit.

3 lifers today - back to the UK rain tomorrow.

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Currently at Salgados Wetland.

Seen:

Purple Heron
BeeEater
Kentish Plover
Kestrel
Little Grebe
Gadwall
Azure Winged Magpie
Black-tailed Godwit
Black Stork
Black-Winged Stilt
Spoonbill
Hoopoe (they're everywhere)
Greenfinch
Goldfinch
A lark of some sort (annoying lack of ID)
Mallard
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Swallows
Little Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
House Sparrows
Blackbird
Kestrel - great views of a kill on the golf course (by the Kestrel, I should add)
Red Crested Pochard
Shoveler

What a great place and still very much alive, despite reading reports of its impending destruction.

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Week spent at Alvor, 20th-27th Oct. this was to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary so birding was only allowed 1st thing in the morning. All birds seen around Alvor unless stated, I've only listed when I saw the bird for the 1st time.
20th, 50 White Stork, Yellow-legged Gull, Spotless Starling, Goldfinch, Collared Dove, Blackbird.
21st, Cattle Egret, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie(many seen around the town) a lifer for me, Robin, Wren, Swallow, Little Egret, Lesser Black-backed Gull.
22nd, Common Waxbill( flock of 12) another lifer, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Cormorant, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Stonechat, Linnet, Greenfinch, Sandwich Tern, White Wagtail
23rd, Wheatear, Zitting Cisticola, Blach-headed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Lesser Kestrel( adult male ) another lifer, Gannet, Dunlin, Oystercatcher.
24th, Hoopoe, Scops Owl, Feral Pigeon, Blue Tit. Crag Martins in Portimao, using hotel behind the post office as a cliff face.
25th, Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone.
26th, Serin, Male Bluethroat my final and best lifer.
27th, Jay, Great Tit.
Cheers Ian


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- A hell of a list for a "none birding" holiday! - (Why am I not surprised?)

Cheers,
Mike

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Just back from a week on the Algarve, based at Vilamoura.

I was instructed it was not a birding holiday but was fortunate to find that Parque Ambiental, which had a couple of hides, was only a 5 min drive from the hotel, so it became my local patch with dawn and evening visits. Single visits to Ria d'Alvor and Ria Formosa reserves added to the totals. In no particular order the best birds were: (All Parque Ambiental unless otherwise stated):

Azure-winged Magpie (abundant with c50 per day)
Hoopoe (3-4 per day)
Yellow-legged Gull (100s)
Red-rumped Swallow (abundant in a spectacular hirundine roost of over 1000 - mostly House Martins)
Green Woodpecker (only 1 - ssp. sharpei)
White Stork (only 4 with all nest sites now abandoned)
Mediterranean Gull (a total of 3)
Audouin's Gull (only 1 at Ria d'Alvor)
Purple Gallinule (common with max flock 13)
Cetti's Warbler (common)
Black-shouldered Kite (seen twice hunting near Parque Ambiental)
Corn Bunting (a roost of at least 14 - probably many more)
Crested Lark (common)
Woodchat Shrike (1 juv)
Glossy Ibis (total of 9)
Fan-tailed Warbler (common)
Marsh Harrier (2)
Common Swift (2 only)
Sardinian Warbler (common)
Melodious Warbler (a few)
Ferruginous Duck (max flock of 15)
Red-crested Pochard (2 pairs)
Black-headed Weaver (A small party thought to be this species although the books say Masked Weaver)
Spotless Starling (strangely few)
Cattle Egret (max 19)
Kentish Plover (high tide roost of 27 at Ria d'Alvor)
Great-white Egret (1 only Ria d'Alvor)
White-spotted Bluethroat (1, from hide at Parque Ambiental)
Night Heron (1 juv, from hide at Parque Ambiental)
Little Bittern (1 noisy adult, from hide at Parque Ambiental)

On top of this Willow Warbler and Pied Flycatcher migration was underway and there was a selection of 16 other wader species at the estuaries. (No Purple Herons seen at all, which was a surprise)

Also found Monarch and Long-tailed Blue.

Cheers, John







-- Edited by John Rayner on Tuesday 11th of September 2012 11:02:00 PM

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