Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring migrants keep arriving

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) near Lagoa dos Salgados (Silves) on 19-03-2016. The species arrives as early as mid February in South Portugal, but adults already head back to Africa during May. Since their favourite host species is the Common Magpie (Pica pica) the distribution of the two species pretty much merges in the Algarve and the Baixo Alentejo-region. The species is very vocal and often can be detected by their giggling calls.

Adult male Spectecled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata) near Sagres (Vila do Bispo) on 26-03-2016. This small Sylvian Warbler, somewhat resembling a miniature Common Whitethroat, is only locally distributed along the Algarve coast, basically in the extreme west- and east of the region. It favours very low shrub and open countryside, such as dry salt marsh or the Garigue of the hinterland of the Cape of Sagres and São Vicente. 

Male Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) over its breeding territory in a reed bed in Portimão-area on 26-03-2016.

Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus (2nd calender year) near Vilamoura (Parque Ambiental) on March 7th, 2016. The species is a wintering bird in the area and prefers open country side like marhes, fields or steppe land.

Male Great Bustards (Otis tarda) in the "pseudosteppe" of the Baixo Alentejo-region in Castro Verde-area. I took this photo out of the car during a tour in the region on March 9th, 2016.

Regarding rarities over the past weeks in the Algarve, this first winter Bonaparte's Gull (Croicocephalus philadelphia) I found at Lagoa dos Salgados (Silves) on March 19th, 2016 has been one of the most interesting birds. Might be overlooked among Black-headed Gulls, but note the more delicate and blackish bill and grey head- and necksides, as well as light pinkish legs on this digiscoping shot I took on a second visit at the site on March, 26th.
Other rarities included an adult male Citrine Wagtail, also near Lagoa dos Salgados. Unfortunately the information about the presence of this very rare vagrant to Portugal (3 records so far) had been passed on after days only and the bird was gone before it was made public...  the male Bufflehead is still present at "Altura-reservoir" (near Monte Gordo) as today.

First winter Bonaparte's Gull (Croicocephalus philadelphia) at Lagoa dos Salgados (Silves), March 19th, 2016 (left) in comparison to Black-headed Gull (also late first winter) on the right. Compare upperwing-pattern - note the evenly fine and well defined trailing edge of the wing on the Bonaparte's Gull on the left. [You can always click the photos to blow them up a bit].

Another record shot of the same bird as above -first winter Bonaparte's Gull (Croicocephalus philadelphia) in flight (the bird below) - note the all white underwing with dark trailing edge and compare to the underwing (primaries) of a Black-headed Gull Croicocephalus ridibundus. Feeding action of Bonaparte's Gull also resembling a Marsh Tern Sp. / Little Gullat times. (Video: click here ).

One more rare visitor from North America present at Lagoa dos Salgados the same day as the above Gull and also self-found a couple of days before - Ring-necked Duck (Athya collaris) adult male, with Common Pochard. (March, 19th, 2016).

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