Friday, July 31, 2009

White-headed Duck and Red-knobbed Coot

On Tuesday I met up with a couple of friends visiting the Algarve. It has been Magnus Robb ("The sound approach to birding" ), Pim Wolf (former member of the Dutch rarities committee) and Joao Tiago Tavares (a Portuguese ornithologist working on Bonelli's Eagles over the past years) - so, a nice bunch of birders, actually....
After a Coffee, we went to Ludo, were we saw a Red-crested Coot (Fulica cristata) and to Quinta do Lago, where five or more Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus-juveniles mainly) were observed and heard near the hide. Purple Gallinule with chicks, an 2nd Summer Audouin's Gull (Larus audouinii) and several Mediterranean Gulls were present. Little Terns (Sterna albifrons) and Kingfishers (Alcedo attis) were fishing right in front of the hide. The Little Grebes (Tachybabtus ruficollis) were still on the nest or had small chicks and several Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) were mixed under all the Gadwall and Mallard on the lake. Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus) were present at both sites. And many Iberian Magpies gave good views, a lot of them juveniles. A Hoppoe and a Black Kite, Greater Flamingos, Avocets and Curlew Sandpipers were seen, as well.
Our next target was Lagoa dos Salgados, west of Albufeira. Arriving there, after a bit more then half an hour driving, a flock of about 300 Greater Flamingos in the lagoon could be seen from a distance already. Hundreds (probably thousands) of House Martins, Common- and Pallid Swifts were feeding above the lagoon. We spotted a few Alpine Swifts (Apus melba) among them.
Next to were we stood, a female White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) was swimming. Two females have been present here during the past weeks and an adult male had been observed for at least two weeks in spring 2008, until the lagoon had been drained once more, to avoid it flooding the nearby Golf course... This place definitely has potential for a breeding site for this highly endangered species - if only there would be a management of this wetland and an approved conservation plan...
In the evening, around sunset, a flock of about 180 Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) arrived and landed on the opposite side of the wetland to roost here for the night, gathering with the 30+ birds which were present already. An adult Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) was one of the last birds for the day. When leaving the site, Stone Curlew (Burrinhus oedicnemus) called loudly and near the access to the motorway, a Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) perched on a telegraph wire near a pine forest - quite an unusual sighting. All in all a successful and not at all boring birding-trip.
Even more so, if one knows, that the others had seen birds like Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, European Roller and White-rumped Swift during the morning in the Alentejo already...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) at Lagoa dos Salgados today

Elegant adult bird in full breeding plumage. This is a typical date for the species, regarding adult birds. Had a Pl. fulva at the same spot at the 22nd of July 2007, wich has been the second acknowledged record for Continental Portugal !

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Golden Eagle and starting wader-passage

when doing my field-work around the wind-farm in the Caldeirao-mountains last week, about three quarters of an hour north of Faro, I had a first for the area: An immature Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos (3rd calender year male) - fantastic bird ! The eagle flew along a slope, very low above the ground, perhaps intending to flush a Hare, a Rabbit or a Red-legged Partridge with this technique and finaly perched in an Cork-Oak Tree. Later it just lifted wings again and then crossed the valley high, then gliding and finaly diving down to disappear somewhere near the Odelouca-River. An immature Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus perched on a telegraph-post next to the road has been another nice observation during these samples. The bird was probably just crossing through the Serra - on the way from the breeding grounds in the Alentejo-plaines to wintering areas near some Algarve wetlands or pasture areas.
In the saltmarshes and saltflats of the Algarve-coast the first Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa arrived, all adults and still in breeding plumage. Another wader indicating "autumn migration" is already on the way, is Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus - wich I saw on a reservoir in the Castro verde plaines as well as in Castro Marim Reserve during last week. In Castro Marim, where I was accompanied by a small group of people, we observed also 3 to 4 juvenile Great-spotted Cuckoo's Clamator glandarius, one apparently still being fed by their favourite host-species, an European Magpie. A family of Lesser Short-toed Larks Calandrella rufescens and a couple - still in full breeding plumage - of Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis has been remarkable, too. For the Grebe its quite an early date.
On the beach, besides the local Little Terns there, also the first Mediterranean Gulls Larus melanocephalus show up now. An adult breeding Mediteranean Gull in soar, with the sunlight shining through the feathers and nothing but sea and sand behind it, is one of the most beautiful sightings I can imagine, I just found out.