Sunday, 9 October 2011

Portugal - day 1

So, here I am in Portugal.  I'll keep this brief since it's been a long day and my bed is calling.  I left a grey and drizzly Heathrow this morning along with Alan Tilmouth and two hours later I was in hot and sunny Lisbon.  We were met at the airport by João and José from the Mértola tourist board and ace birder João Jara from Birds & Nature then, along with Jan Södersved from Finnish birding magazine Linnut, we headed off to the Tagus Estuary to start as we meant to go on—birding.

We got off to an excellent start with massive numbers of White Storks, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis and Greater Flamingos.

Also in the area were flocks of various waders, at least five Great White Egrets, and two Black-shouldered Kites.

After a spot of lunch, we headed to some small salt pans adjacent to the estuary; here we found large numbers of Kentish Plover, our first Black Redstart of the trip, and at least one Little Stint.

Nearby, at a fantastic private spot, we found three Ospreys, more Black-shouldered Kites (they soon went from  "wow look, Black-shouldered Kite" to "oh, it's only another Black-shouldered Kite"), a Peregrine, our first Spotless Starlings, and a small flock of Azure-winged Magpies feeding on what looked like an old bee's nest.

Next up, João J. took us to a spot on the edge of some farmland that turned out to be a veritable category C lister's dream.  In one ditch we had Black-headed Weavers (two males and a handful of female/juveniles), four Yellow-crowned Bishops (a moulting male and three female/juveniles), and more waxbills than you could ever have wished for.  Plus Great White Egret, Squacco Heron, Kingfisher, and more Black-shouldered Kites thrown in for those who like their birds a tad less... aviary.

Cat C overload

Weaver, Bishop & Waxbill - trusted solicitors since 1832

Then, a mere 90 minutes later we'd gone from coastal salt pans and feral finches to bustard county.  Admittedly it was after sunset and there wasn't any point in stopping—we're saving it for another day—but we did pick out some roadside Southern Grey Shrikes and more Azure-winged Magpies as we made our way to Mértola town, which is where we'll be based for this week.

So far, I'm extremely impressed with the birding that Portugal has got to offer—hopefully that will continue through the week!

1 comment:

twintal said...

Don't forget to visit the A Rocha site at Cruzinha