A very happy, healthy, successful and what-ever-you-might-wish-for-yourself - Year 2010 to everybody !!!
This Squacco Heron (Ardea ralloides) gave very good views at the Golf course of "Quinta do Lago" today.
Sitting in the afternoon sun, it catched very small fishes at the surface from time to time...
The Squacco Heron is not known to nest in the Algarve, though this has been reported accidently. It is a rather scarce visitor to the Algarve, most birds might be coming from the nearby Doñana-National Park in Andalusia/Spain, where it nests with regularity but is also one of the rarer Heron-species and far from being common.
It has been raining a lot here the last, say 2 weeks... and today has been the first day with good conditions to go out and watch some birds. But luckyly now everything outside turns green finaly - the land needed the rain and this winter had been very dry before. Its interesting to notice, how the nature "awakes" here just after the rain, since water is the limiting factor for vegetation here and not the cold as it is in the northern countries. Cetti's Warblers have been very active today. I have missed there calls when I was in the areas (wetlands with bushes usually) where they usually occur and are very abundant. Also, a pair of Great Crested Grebes started to show there mating behaviour today.
Besides the more regular birds at the Golf course Lake (Purple Gallinule, Glossy Ibis, Iberian Magpie, Hoppoe, Common Waxbill, Duck Species, Med Gulls etc...) some Swallows and Martins were catching insects above the Lake. About 10 or so Craig Martins, one House Martin and 6 Barn Swallows were there at least. An Alpine Swift had been seen there in December by another birder but I could not see it today. However, wintering flocks of Swallows and Martins have become almost a regular thing here, too. Craig Martin is the most abundant, especially in the western Algarve.
In the Saltpans, a bit further back, I observed about 100 Black-winged Stilts quite close together, wich is a good concentration for the mid winter, when the numbers of this species are lowest.
When leaving the area, around sunset, an adult Osprey gave good views, flying low above a channel filled with Ducks and Coots. Further beyond, a Black-winged Kite hovered nearby, above a swampy area, being the last bird I noticed on my afternoon's birding-trip at, what happened to become my homepatch for already some years now.
"Ludo" near Faro.