Star bird was this juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle, found by Nigel, flying through a roadside wood!
Courtesy of Phil & Carolyn, in whose house we stayed, and our friends Sue and Nigel, who were the inspiration behind the trip, we’ve just experienced our first birding adventure to Portugal’s Algarve region. We flew from Luton to Faro and spent a few days exploring the various wetlands of the area, as well as venturing a little further afield to the mountains of Monchique and the steppe grassland around Sagres and Castro Verde. We used Dave Gosney’s reliable guide for the main sites, supplemented with a bit of local gen from Phil. We didn’t expect great things in mid-December but we did see around 120 species and got good views of some superb birds including, Iberian Shrike, Great Bustard, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Penduline Tit, Purple Swamphen, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Caspian Tern, Bluethroat, Western Subalpine Warbler, Rock Bunting and more.
The shine was taken off the trip a little when our car was broken into at the Salgados beach car park and some of our possessions stolen. The worst aspects of the incident only becoming apparent the following day when I realised that my camera battery charger was in the stolen bag, along with my spare batteries – resulting in no functioning camera for our last day. But it didn’t matter too much because by the time we’d finished at the Police Station it was lunchtime anyway and our trip to Sagres failed to produce the goods in the form of Little Bustard, so nothing to photograph anyway! Still, we didn’t lose anything that can’t be replaced and everyone was very helpful – gives us a reason to return!
A few photos from our brief trip:
Iberian Shrike were reasonably common in the more arid areas, but rather unapproachable
Great Bustard took a bit of finding but we did see more than a dozen in a couple of places
Purple Swamphen aren’t usually difficult to find in the right habitat but we did get particularly good views
Red Kite in Iberia are always a delight
Azure-winged Magpie – much easier to see in Portugal than across the border!
Bluthroat winter along the Algarve coast in small numbers
A flock of Spoonbill, some wearing bird ‘bling’
Water Pipit – makes me think I’m back at Cley NWT
Cetti’s Warbler – another Cley species but easier to see in the Algarve
Caspian Tern, seen in small numbers along the coast
Taken moments before we discovered that the car had been trashed – Chiffchaff with ‘bling’
Finally, my only Western Palearctic ‘tick’ – Black-headed Weaver, a rapidly colonising escape, which breeds in several spots along the coast