Sunday, 7 January 2018

Winter Birding Penduline Tit and Parrot Crossbill a couple of Lifers

Winter birding has been better than the Autumn resulting in two species to add to my life list. I don't know how I haven't seen Penduline Tit abroad but I haven't but I got great views of one in Gloustershire on a very cold day. The second bird is Parrot Crossbill I saw 12 of these in Derwentdale but they never came close enough to get good photos. In addition managed to see a few Hawfinch, it might be a few years until I see these again after the recent big influx. I've also been up to Whitby to photograph a Desert Wheatear which showed better than expected.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Winter Birding Trip to Algarve Portugal.

I decided to have a last minute 5 day day birding trip to Portugal 13th-18th December mainly to try and tick off half a dozen new species and get good photos of many of the other specialities. I have done winter trips here before for the amphibians and saw all the species so I would try a see a few again but I was in the main concentrate on birds. Flying from Liverpool I was quickly through Faro airport picked up the hire car and headed straight to Quinta Marim. The first thing I noticed was it was bone dry everywhere compared to previous trips in winter. Thanks to Nigel Genn for some tips, its always useful getting some local knowledge, I don't think I would have seen Black Winged Kite or Sociable Plover without it, see his excellent often updated blog SOUTHELLA BIRDER.

Quinta Marim and Quinta Lago

Marim was a bit disappointing but I did pick up my first lifer in the form of Common Waxbill, I found a Moorish Gecko and two dead Montpelier Snakes trapped in the Roman Ruins but no Chameleons, there were plenty of Spanish Terrapin but no European nor scripta species as before.
There were plenty of waders and ducks with this the only place with Pintail and Avocet. There were plenty of Azure Winged Magpies but always prove a pain to photograph. Serin, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe, Med Gull, Water Rail, Flamingo, Southern Grey Shrike and White Stork were other birds of note.

Quinta do Lago was much better the light was good for photography too. Star birds here were a male Little Bittern, Lots of Purple Swamphen/Gallinule, Glossy Ibis lots of duck the best being Red Crested Pochard. Could have done with another hour here but the light was going.

Pera Marsh

The main objective here was to try and find a Sociable Plover not only a very rare vagrant in Portugal but a rare bird full stop. Associating with Lapwings I knew it was going to be difficult, not only that it was the worst weather of the day with drizzle on and off. I set off and saw a few Lapwings scattered around then in the most likely looking fields found a flock of 20 but no plover. I went for a walk along the boardwalk picking up Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Zitting Cisticola, Black Winged Stilt, Iberian Hare. I then went back to see if the plover had dropped in I found the Lapwings again and then right at the back of the field the Sociable Plover was there, lifer number 2.

I then set off for the drive up to Mertola via Almodovar scanning the roads, conditions were rubbish for photography. I saw loads of Southern Grey Shrikes, Corn Bunting, Spotless Starling, but probably the best thing seen was 4 Fallow Deer.


Mertola/Castro Verde area.
Bit disappointing the weather was rubbish on the Friday, I couldn't find any bustards and none of the rarer birds of prey. I added Red Kite, Raven, Little Owl, Spanish Sparrow, Green Sandpiper, Crag Martins were roosting on the hotel. It rained a bit at night so I went for a drive, finding Sharp Ribbed Newt, Spiny Toad and one of my favourites Western Spadefoot Toad. Driving over to Sagres the next day the sun was shining again so I did improve on some of the previous days photographs.


Mont Foia and Sagres.

The sole aim of going up to the top of Mont Foia was to connect with Rock Bunting, First good bird up was a Dartford Warbler followed by Blue Rock Thrush, just as I was giving up hope 2 lovely Rock Buntings dropped in (lifer no 3), and were quite amenable for photography as was another Dartford warbler.

Heading on towards Sagres I stopped at Carapaterira and found a few Moorish Geckos, Scorpion and a nice Parsley frog, it was already getting dark by the time I reached Sagres.

Sunday was my last day so I had to make the most of it, the weather was perfect. I headed off to the Alvor area with the main aim of trying to find Black Winged Kite. I thought I had got one straight away but it was a distant Peregrine perched up. There were quite a few extra waders here that I hadn't seen on the trip so far,  the best of which was Kentish Plover. There was a distant Osprey fishing. But no Kites yet, so I decided to drive around scanning all possible perching sites. Eventually I found two perched together and lifer no 4 was in the bag.I then went back to Sagres via Boco do Rio. At Sagres Black Redstart showed well, I briefly saw a Blue Rock Thrush and had a flock of 52 Chough.

Species Lists

Mammals 3
Fallow Deer
Iberian Hare

Reptiles and Amphibians 8

Moorish Gecko
Large Psammodromus
Spanish Terrapin
Montpelier Snake (2 dead in cistern)
Spiny Toad
Western Spadefoot Toad
Parsley Frog
Sharp Ribbed Newt

Birds 100
Red Crested Pochard
Tufted Duck
Red Legged Partridge
Little Grebe
Little Bittern
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Grey Heron
White Stork
Glossy Ibis
Red Kite
Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
Black Winged Kite (Lifer)
Peregrine Falcon
Water Rail
Purple Swamphen
Black Winged Stilt
Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Grey Plover
Golden Plover
Sociable Plover (Lifer)
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Black Headed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Greater Black Backed Gull
Yellow Legged Gull
Sandwich Tern
Collared Dove
Little Owl
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Crested Lark
Crag Martin
Meadow Pipit
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Black Redstart
Mistle Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
Sardinian Warbler
Dartford Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
Cettis Warbler
Great Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Southern Grey Shrike
Azure Winged Magpie
Carrion Crow
Spotless Starling
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
Corn Bunting
Rock Bunting (Lifer)
Common Waxbill (Lifer)