Sunday 21 October 2018

Back to the Algarve

I couldn't resist another visit to this great location. If you enjoy looking for your own birds then this is a great destination. Even in the seaside towns you can find interesting migrant birds such as Pied Flycatchers. Dawn and I managed a decent total of 159 species, which was just four short of our best total. I have now seen 229 species in southern Portugal. New birds included Red-breasted Flycatcher near Sagres and a Bullfinch on a wooded hillside.

One of the highlights of my October trips is the boat ride out of Sagres looking for seabirds. It wasn't a classic trip, but we did get really good views of Cory's Shearwaters. The wind was quite brisk, so we had to hold on. A couple of Sooty Shearwaters also put in an appearance, but Great Shearwater escaped me this time.

Cory's Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater

After the boat ride a trip to the raptor watchpoint at Cabranosa is a must. Luckily the raptors were arriving and they were relatively low over the watchpoint. The highlight was a wing-tagged juvenile Egyptian Vulture (2MW) that had been ringed near Jaca, Spain (The Pyrenees).

Juvenile, Egyptian Vulture

Booted Eagle

As you know, one of the reasons for my trips to The Algarve is for close up studies of gulls. We visited Quarteira a site I'd overlooked in the past. This site proved excellent with plenty of colour-ringed gulls plus a giant Great Black-backed Gull,. Oh and another Azorean Gull candidate.

Great Black-backed Gull

Presumed Azorean Gull, Second-Winter

Presumed Azorean Gull

The highlight for me of the colour-ringed birds was a first calendar-year lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull (A82:G) from the Basque Country in Spain.

First-Winter lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull

A visit to the Alentejo region between Castro Verde and Mertola is a must for birders visiting The Algarve. Not natural Steppe, but the man made Cereal Steppe is a home to many species found in the natural environment. Great Bustards are usually easy to find, but this time we struck lucky with a single Little Bustard as well. Large birds of prey come out on to the plains to hunt, but they can be very hard to find. The church called Ermida de Nossa Senhora sits on a hill side near Monte Salto and it's a great point from which to scan for large raptors. A little luck is needed to time your visit when raptors are close by, but this time we had got it right. Within a few minutes of arriving a group of Griffon Vultures appeared and amongst them were three Iberian Imperial Eagles - including one of this year's juveniles. Dawn and I watched the juvenile tussling with one of the older birds.

Iberian Imperial Eagles

At one point the juvenile flew down and landed in a tree below the hill.

Juvenile Iberian Imperial eagle

Iberian Imperial Eagles

We also saw Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle and Egyptian Vulture.

Griffon Vulture

I haven't seen many Great White Egrets in The Algarve, so two over Olhao was a treat. The photo below looks more like an X-ray.

Great White Egret

I can't wait to go again...