Monday, 26 October 2009

World Tour of The Algarve, Part IV

At last, the final part.

Friday 16th October.

Our final day's birding. As the week turned out, the westerly winds we were hoping for (full of American vagrants) never materialised. So what we decided to do was to build up as large a list of birds as we could. The nature reserve at Castro Marim, on the Spanish border, is a reliable place for Lesser Short-Toed Lark. And as we've noticed, who knows what different birds we'll find at another wetland location.

Plenty of lagoons here, although a lot of them rather distant. But in addition to the Flamingoes and Spoonbills were Osprey, Marsh Harrier, 12 Caspian Terns, 3 Little Terns, a couple of small skeins of Greylag Geese and a single Little Bustard, which was found by a pair of birders from Germany.

With Castro Marim castle in the background, a walk along a track through the saltmarsh produced some "drrrd" calls of 6 Lesser Short-Toed Larks. A short time later we found another three that landed on the ground (lifer).

A drive down to some lagoons on the edge of Vila Real de Santo Antonio produced 7 Curlew Sandpipers in amongst a mixed flock of waders, two Great Crested Grebes, four more Little Terns. We also had a crippling view of a Crag Martin as it was flying under the road bridge. But not this bridge, that would be a bit scary! By the way, that's Spain on the far side of the river.

The German birders we met earlier had told us about the salt pans at Santa Luzia. Seeing as we had pretty much cleaned up at Castro Marim and with an afternoon to kill. Instead of nipping into Spain and starting a new list, we headed over to Santa Luzia, west of Tavira, to find these salt pans.

As you can see reader, we found them. This was also the only site where we saw Spanish Sparrow during the week, and large numbers of waders. Especially of Curlew Sandpipers and Kentish Plovers.

We also found 10 Slender-billed Gulls amongst Black Headed Gulls, but looking through a fence and looking into the sun. However, we found another flock of about 150 large gulls which we could see included some Audouin's Gulls. An attempt at a closer inspection was started:

We found the flock and counted 71 Audouin's Gulls. We also found it intruiging how a lot of them were trying to keep in the shade.

One more check of Pera Marsh before we finished birding for the week. Which proved rather successful, with the addition of Little Owl and Subalpine Warbler (lifer). And that was it for birding in the Algarve, with a excellent total of 162 different species. Not including the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker we heard, and the three introduced species of Common Waxbill, Sacred Ibis and Masked Weaver. The reader of Blurred Birding will notice that Martyn just doesn't do em!

I would just like to take the opportunity to thank Martyn for his company, which for me was a wonderful week's birding. Cheers my friend!

But as far as blogging is concerned, that's not quite the end of it. On the flight home back to Birmingham, to our surprise we had a celebrity sat four rows in front of us. It was none other than the new Terry Wogan, "Christophe Lammie Pie" himself, Chris Evans:

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