Monday, December 13, 2010

Grey "Little Egret"

Presumed hybrid Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) X Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis) at Salinas de Santa Luzia (Tavira) on December 12. These birds are seen with regularity in the Algarve and Southern Spain and these type of birds has been discussed in articles in "Dutch Birding" and the website "Rare birds in Spain". The "cave" is, that dark morphs of both species do exist as well.
Lenght and shape of the bill is said to give some indications in this case, among others, as far as I remember, but I did not have the time to look it up yet. This has been only yesterday and I just arrived home now from an excursion with a secondary school class from Faro in Ria Formosa Natural Park to observe birds and talk about (and show!) biodiversity and trophic chain etc.
Voluntary work, by the way ... ;)

Another bird. Little Egret X? This photo is from Febr. 2007 and has been made at a small pool in the salt marsh just behind "Forte do Rato" in Tavira. Perhaps a 2nd or 3rd generation hybrid ?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Resume of the past 7 days Tours

Looking out on the plain of the lower Alentejo - all turning green now.

So, what is there to tell about the recent Birding-Tours here in the Algarve and into the Alentejo ?
Well, a lot ! Bird life has been fabulous - plenty of birds and good species !

Yesterday, 25-11, during a Tour around Faro, both, Sacred Ibis (2 Ind.) and Glossy Ibis (1 Ind., very close views) could be observed, as well as Purple Swamphen and a late male Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), Black-headed Weavers (Ploceus melanocephalus), Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), a couple of Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) and various wintering Duck-species in large numbers were present. We also watched a flock of close to 1000 Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) feeding in a drained salt pan together with Pied Avocets and many other wader species. Among the birds of prey, Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), 8 Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata) and a Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) could be added to the day list.

On Tuesday, the 23rd, we did a two and a half hours pelagic boat-trip out to the sea from Fuzeta (east Algarve). Despite the rainy weather (the boat has a cabin fortunately) it has been a successful Trip. We saw at least 50 European-Storm Petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus), 2 Balearic Shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus) lots of Great Skuas (Stercorarius skua)- at least 15 Ind, sometimes 5 around the boat at the same time, roughly 250 Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) including many adults now, including 1 bird almost colliding with the boat when we approached a trawler about 6 Miles out... A new species for the year-list but not completely surprising, was a single Atlantik Puffin (Fratercula arctica) diving and then taking off close to the boat. We also saw a distant school of Dolphins (probably Common-) which we did not approach, because we were just "chasing" the seabirds at this moment, plus an Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) next to the boat.

The day before, Monday, the 22nd of November, I went to the Baixo Alentejo with a party of people. We found all the main target-species during the morning, including several groups of Great Bustards (Otis tarda), a feeding flock of 70+ Little Bustards (tetrax tetrax), small groups of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) flying and a flock of around 100 Common Cranes (Grus grus). From a hillside, we spotted 14 Griffon Vultures soaring in a thermal at quite a distance - a rather late date for this species here. A single Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) was with them and an adult Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciata) also joined the soaring birds for a while.
Earlier in the morning, we had already watched a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) perched on a pile of stones, presumably his night-roost, with the telescope, as well as a Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) hovering next to the road.
On our way back, we stopped at a lagoon on the coast, where we had excellent views of Bluethroats (Lusciana svecica) and also saw various waders and other aquatic birds, including Glossy Ibis, as well as Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) and Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus).

The Friday before (19th) I had been on a Alentejo-Tour already which has been just as good and also included all the main target species, with some slight differences. We did not get any Vultures, but observed two immature Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aquila adalberti) close together on the ground, where they were competing about a small carcase. One bird showing heavy moult in the primaries and the pale and streaked plumage on both indicated, that they were in their 2nd or 3rd year. Besides the numerous Red Kites (Milvus milvus) in the area, we also saw a juvenile Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) and observed a hunting Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) which caused quite a panic among the present Lapwings, Black-bellied Sandgrouses and Golden Plovers.

Recent sightings from the west-coast of Portugal suggest that we might get another good winter for North Atlantic Gulls and wintering Passerines here - Let's hope so !

Drake Teal (Anas crecca) almost in full breeding plumage. Faro, 23rd Nov 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sacred Ibis

Photographed this Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) in the Ria Formosa Natural Park near Faro-beach today.
Several sightings of at least 2 Individuals of this "Exotic" bird have been made in central-Algarve wetlands over the past weeks. The species, originally from Sub-Saharian Africa, has formed colonies in several European countries, which are based on Zoo-escapes. Neozoa are a global issue of our time and not a big deal in most cases, but this one is one of the few species with some "conflict potential", because it has been found to be able to do big harm to other nesting aquatic birds up to the complete elimination of whole seabird-colonies by killing the young and eating up the eggs. This excellent article here Yésou, P. & Clergeau, P. 2005 Sacred Ibis: a new invasive species in Europe. Birding World 18 (12): 517-526. is based on the experiences in France and gives all the details, including many photos and plates. Note the hint regarding the negative experiences with the species (on Page 525) which has lead to a "culling" project in France.
Regarding the situation in Portugal, it says on page 520: "(...) three Sacred Ibises found near Coimbra, Portugal, in early 1998 were thought possibly to have bred in the area, as the group increased to six by the end of the year; they disappeared thereafter (Gonçalo Elias pers. comm.)."
So, definitely a nice bird, should feel free to visit here all the time, but please don't nest here (or disappear thereafter !)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soaring Raptors

Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) pale Morph. Faro, Nov-2010. Photo: David Rayner. What a photo, David. Great details... Thanks a lot for sharing ! (click on the photo for magnification)

Griffon Vulture (Gyps vulvus) juvenile. Vilamoura, 03-Nov-2010. Photo: David Rayner. Impressive bird !

Friday, November 5, 2010

Griffons "en masse" and more...

Early yesterday morning I drove to the West-coast, to do some field-work for an impact-study near Aljezur. Around midday, I spent two hours at on raptor-watchpoint, where I had god views of an dark morph Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) and a pair of Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus) circling above the farmland and the surrounding hills. Well a dozen Crag Martins (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) were catching insects in the air and the surrounding bushes were filled with European Robins. Around 2 o´clock, after I watched a thermal with 10 soaring White Storks, I saw this distant, huge thermal... and as suspected, they were Griffon Vultures (Gyps vulvus) and there were a lot. I then noticed more of these huge thermals further north, while in the south already birds began to glide straight in southern direction. In between the thermals, birds flew from one to the other and further below, single birds split from the large groups and seem to explore the hills on their own. All of them must have been terribly starving, because there is never enough food for this numbers of Vultures in our cleaned up environment. Feeding might just be enough to "keep" the majority of them "going". I counted/estimated a total of around 900 Ind. in at least 5 big groups which I could see simultaneously. Unfortunately the flocks were too far to discover other species in them, which normally is the case and both, the Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and the African Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) follow the migrating Griffon Vulture-flocks.
Exhausted Vultures are collected every autumn along the Algarve and brought to the recovery-centre (RIAS) in Olhão, where they get help. If you are in South Portugal and find an injured or weakened Vulture or other bird or wild animal, you can bring it to this rehabilitation-center, the contact of RIAS is Tlm.: 927659313, e-mail: - you can visit their blog here: They are specialized in wild animals and sometimes local vets don´t know what to do in such a case... If you can not catch the animal yourself, you can call the police for the protection of the environment SEPNA (GNR) Portimão, or T.: 808 200 520 in urgent cases (also forest fire etc.) for the whole country (sos ambiente e território) – , which will do the job and deliver the animal. Many thanks to Thjis Valkenburg for sharing this information.

Looking east from Aljezur, towards the Monchique-mountains.

On Thursday I have been guiding a party of 3 people around Vilamoura, where, when we were still in the car and before we reached our actual first stop, one of them spotted a circling raptor nearby above a golf course. It was a single Griffon Vultures soaring at about 40m above the green ! The huge bird approached us (we had pulled in at the road side) and finally almost flew over, giving great views (I am looking forward to some photos ;-)
We found the Penduline Tits we were looking for, but they did not show themselves, calling nicely on 3 different spots, but we did not see a single one this day ! Watervowl was easier, and a (distant) White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and at least two Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca) were good encounters. Other birds of prey included Booted Eagle (pale morph), Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) and a couple of Marsh Harriers. We finished the afternoon with observations of Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) and waders near Faro.

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) first winter. Vilamoura, 03-11-2010.

This morning I observed this juvenile Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in Ria Formosa near Faro-beach, feeding on his catch.

Just recalling now, that a quick visit at Salgados-lagoon yesterday (04-11-2010) produced two late Whiskered Terns (Chlidonias hybridus) and at least five first winter Little Gulls (Larus minutus) among many other birds in the area.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Booted Eagles

At a traditional roost (near Faro) for this marvelous raptors I counted at least five, possibly six birds this morning. The clear atmosphere and the perfect light conditions allowed excellent observations through the telescope on a medium distance (around 150 m) to the birds. These digiscoping-shots unfortunately don't come close to the original as you might imagine, because the shutter time is a bit long if you zoom in... so, you have to zoom out to make a photo.
Other Birds of Prey in the area were Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). In the nearby saltpans, Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), a male juvenile Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), a few Mediterranean Gulls (Larus melanocephalus) and 18 Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) were birds of interest. Most welcome were also excellent and close views of an adult Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti) and a late Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus).
Migration of Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis), White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) and Sky Larks (Alauda arvensis) was obvious. Two Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinera) were present, as well as two King Fisher (Alcedo atthis) a Hoppoe (Upupa epops) and two Iberian Green Woodpeckers (Picus viridis sharpei). Pretty nice for a little morning walk.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter birds arriving

Yesterday a first winter Razorbill (Alca torda) swam out Praia de Faro and many Gannets dived for fish close to the beach. On the Ria Formosa-side, an adult winter Common Gull (Larus canus) quite a rare bird here, has been present at exactly the same spot as last year. A single adult winter Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei), about 20 Audouin's Gulls (Larus audouinii), and a Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) were present as well. A selection of well a dozen wader-species, included Little Stints (Calidris minutus) a few Knots (Calidris canutus), Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica) and at least 130 Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus).
Recently, two single juvenile Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria) appeared a bit "misplaced" and suspicious, but were only found to be of the nominate form. One fed on the Golf course near Quinta do Lago, the other one a few days later at the sewerage work near the airport.

Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) juvenile. São Lourenco Golf-course, 04-10-2010.

The same species, another juenile. E.T.A.R. Faro-airport, 13-10-2010. Appears pretty slim and long-legged on this photo, but remains P. apricaria...

An adult Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) moulting into winter plumage. Quinta do Lago, 09-2010.

Adult winter Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) Ria Formosa (Faro), 13-10-2010. Almost as long-legged as a Stilt Sandpiper, almost... ;-)

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) juvenile. Ludo, 09-2010.

Among the passerines, a lot of Robins, Common Chiffchaff and Bluethroats have arrived during the past two weeks. A Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) has been ringed by Thijs Valkenburg near Silves this month and in Parque Ambiental of Vilamoura, a Brithish Team of ringers caught a Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) - which is apparently the first North Americam songbird recorded in continental Portugal so far, as well as a Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus) - both birds juveniles/first winter (photos just examples).

(White-spotted) Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica cyanecula) adult male. Ria Formosa Natural Park near Faro, 19-10-2010.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Upland Sandpiper near Tavira

An Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) was still present yesterday near Sta. Luzia (Tavira). This is only the 2nd record for Portugal of this North American wader. I "ticked" the bird yesterday morning together with 5 other people which I brought on this little Guided-Tour "special" as a follow-up to the bird-festival in Sagres this past weekend. Thanks for sharing this great shot, Menno; to Peter for sharing the information and to Nigel Jackson for finding it ! Other birds in the area were about 65 Audouins Gulls, 5 Slender-billed Gulls, a Black-shouldered Kite, an Osprey and various wader species.

Juvenile Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) near Tavira, Algarve, 03-10-10, 2nd for Portugal. Photo: Menno van Duijn (

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) drawing

Received something special. A drawing of Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii) made by Phil Jones. This bird has been one of the highlights of a Guided day tour into the
Alentejo in late July this year I made with two of Phil's friends (details here). Knowing the area himself from a Tour we did together for Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Black-winged Kite and others in 2009, Phil draw this wonderful scetch for his friends, which they kindly shared with me.

The species by the way, is now seen every autumn in the cape area around Sagres, when single immatures are observed in big flocks of Griffon Vultures that pass through the cape area during October and November. Perhaps already during the bird-festival on the 1st-3rd ...

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Lagoa Salgados in the west-Algarve is one of the best places to find a wader-rarity here and did not fail us at a visit last week (16-09-2010) when we watched a juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) feeding in the low salt-vegetation (Salcicornia) next to the lagoon at the end of the day.
After a while we met Rui Eufrasia, vigilant at the lagoon and learned that the bird had been seen in the morning already but not been reported. Interesting, that there has been a juvenile BBSP at the same spot, last September as well (see photos here.) This years bird was still present the following day, but has not been seen on the 20th and 21st of September anymore. I got some rather poor (low light) digiscoping shots... Several Ind. have been found in Spain this month, too, by the way.
An interesting factsheet about the species (by birdlife) is here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Plenty of Wilson's Storm-Petrels !

Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) - juv. taking off next to the boat... (Photo: Pedro Marques) Portimão, 12-09-2010.

Portimão in the West-Algarve has been the starting-point for another Pelagic boat-trip organized - this time together with the company Ecoceanus. Sunday morning, 12th of September 2010, a group of 10 enthusiastic "bird-people" plus 2 people from Ecoceanus met at the marina and at about a quarter to eight we were heading out for about 15 miles straight southwards towards a deep sea-canyon where the marine life is special, because food-rich currents attract a lot of fishes, marine mammals and also marine birds... The 11 m's catamaran is a comfortable boat, which is stable, glides low above the water and offers quite some space to choose and change a place. It has a motor, but sails faster than it drives, when this is necessary. It has been a sunny day with some clouds and a breeze, that caused some waves, but all in all we had very good conditions. Soon the first "Cagarras"/ Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) crossed in front of the boat, gliding in their typical relaxed manner with hanging wings almost touching the surface of the sea and Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) flew parallel to the boat, were flushed by us if they had been swimming, or crossed high over on the way to their fishing-grounds further out. Single Balearic Shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus) or small groups of three or four of them also passed by, all heading east.
A much lighter, contrasting and less-bellied bird going west was a Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and not a Manx' Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) this time... Storm-Petrels were spotted from about four miles onwards - single ones of both species (as far as possible to call them while passing by fast...) and later also small groups - several times of 5 to 10, some of them swimming and then resembling somewhat a flock of Phalaropes... We also came across one or two Great Skuas (Stercorarius skua).
At about 10 a.m. we started chumming and within a few minutes, the first Storm-Petrels showed up near the boat, European Storm Petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus) in the beginning, but soon also Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) and then more and more came...

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) by Pedro Marques. Portimão, 12-09-2010.

Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) by Pim Wolf. Portimão, 12-09-2010.

Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) by Pim Wolf. Portimão, 12-09-2010.

We had at least 40 to 50 Storm Petrels (of both species together) around the boat during an almost 2 hours chumming session. I have been to a Wilson's Storm Petrel as close as two meters (!) when it came to investigate where all the good smell came from (was me, entirely covered in nice fishy chum ;-). Up to 24 Wilson's were feeding in a flock, resembling big butterflies, when "dancing" upon the water and touching it with their yellow-webbed feet, while picking small food-particles from the surface... These are the situations, when they also call, but this can only be heard with a special equipment. Including the birds we came across along the way, we have seen about 45 to 55 Wilson's Storm Petrels and around 40 to 50 European Storm Petrels during this trip. The following trip-list is based on António Gonçalves' (who just photographed a Brown Bobby at Portugal's west-coast by the way!) estimates from the (roughly 7 hours) trip:

Puffinus mauretanicus - around 10 Ind.
Puffinus yelkouan - 1 Ind.
Puffinus griseus - 1 Ind.
Calonectris diomedea - 15 to 20 Ind.
Hydrobates pelagicus - around 40 Ind.
Oceanites oceanicus - 45 to 50 Ind.
Morus bassanus - more than 60 Ind.
Larus michahellis and fuscus - around 1000 Ind.
Sterna sandvicencis - 2 Ind.
Sterna hirundo - 7 Ind at Portimão and 2 Ind. at sea
Chlidonias niger - 1 Ind.
Stercorarius skua - 4 to 5 Ind.
Hirundo rustica - 2 small flocks (around 15 Ind.)
Riparia riparia - small groups
Oenanthe oenanthe - 2 inds (1 Ind. landing on the boat)

Minke-Whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) - one Ind.
Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) - a group of around 20

Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) by Pim Wolf. Portimão, 12-09-2010.

Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) by Pim Wolf. Portimão, 12-09-2010.

Magnus Robb (The sound approach to birding) recording a feeding-flock of Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus). Photo by Pim Wolf. Portimão, 12-09-2010.

Many thanks to Daniel Machado and Inês from Ecoceanus for an excellent job with the boat and to all who have joined in.

On the way back. Magnus Robb and Luis Godinho in the front, Pim Wolf to the right. Thanks, Pim and Pedro, for sharing your brilliant shots with me (and you) !!!

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) by Pim Wolf.

I'd love to repeat a trip like this with Ecoceanus - we only need a group of people to go out (price depending on group-size from 50 € onwards). October is an excellent month for pelagics here, and chances for Great- and more Sooty Shearwaters are even higher. Please note also the trips I am organizing together with Passeios Ria Formosa and visit my website here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eleonora´s Falcons near the cape

Adult Eleonoras's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) - probably female. West Algarve, August 2010.

Birdwatching around the cape of Sagres and São Vicente - the extreme south western point of continental Europe - is always a great thing to do, particularly when migration peaks here in late summer and autumn. On good days, 15 to 20 raptor species can be seen, of a total of 31 bird of prey species recorded here so far. In late August, still at the beginning of the season, Lesser Kestrel, European Roller, White-rumped Swift, Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle (I saw 4 different Individuals), Honey Buzzard and Eleonora's Falcon have been seen already. Seawatching from the cape, around 30 Great Skuas, 120 Cory's Shearwater, a dozen or so Balearic Shearwaters and around 10 Grey Phalaropes could be seen during less than an hour on the 31st of August.
Though the Eleonora's Falcons are not known to breed in the area, they show up every year and there are records throughout the season from August to October. It's interesting, because this period is the (delayed) breeding season for this cliff-nesting (often colonial) Falcon, feeding the young with migratory passerines, while dragonflies are the main food during the rest of the year. Main wintering area for the species is east Africa (Madagascar).
I have seen 2 different birds here in late August (of a total of 3 Ind.) - both of the pale morph, an adult and a probable immature, most probably the birds on the photos made by Jorge Safara (Obrigado para partilhar, Jorge !) and included in this article. Latest news - a sighting of a Lanner Falco biarmicus by Simon Wates on the 4th of September, a species that I have seen with a group of people here in February 2007 - record shots are here (scroll down).

Immature Eleonoras's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) - 2nd calender year. West Algarve, August 2010. Both photos by Jorge Safara.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Birdwatching-Festival Sagres 2010

The Portuguese Birdlife-Partner SPEA has been organizing events in the cape-area of Sagres over the past years already, always on the first weekend in October. This year, on the 1st to the 3rd of october it's going to be bigger ! I remember fantastic days there with hundreds of birds of prey (not "pray"...) in the air and 15 species of raptors through out the day or more. The area offers a spectacular marine bird life as well - you can do both in one day ! I have been seeing Egyptian Vulture and Eleonoras Falcons there this August already but migration is going to peak there in about 4 weeks...
I will be participating and offering field-activities.

Don't miss this event !

Manx Shearwater

This Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) has been seen during a boat trip off Fuzeta (east Algarve) with Passeios Ria Formosa on the 13th of August. I love this photo ! Note the missing toe-projection in comparison to P. yelkouan.

Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) in the eastern Algarve. Photo: Rasmus Nielsen.

The next boat-trips (Pelagics) are scheduled for the 11th (Fuzeta) and 12th (Portimão) September ! There are still a few seats available !

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pelagic boat trips

The dates for the next pelagics are:
3rd and 11th of September(from Fuzeta, 35 € p.p.)
and on the 12th of September (from Portimão, 50 € p.p.)
I will be "out of the office" for the rest of the month and might be only able to reply to e-mails on the 1st of September.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Discover birds & birdlife - courses with CCMAR

A series of field-ornithology courses at the University of Faro has been scheduled starting in September 2010. The courses will be held in English language. Inscriptions are open. Please visit:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pelagic off Fuzeta today - Wilson's Storm Petrels & more

Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) an adult in heavy moult. Photo: Rolf Svennson.

We went out quite early this morning (7.20 a.m.) with Passeios Ria Formosa from Fuzeta. A beautiful sunrise and stunning morning light when we crossed Ria Formosa at high tide. We spotted 4 Audouin's Gulls (Larus audouinii) on a sand bank close by during our passage. The sea then was calm and we had a weak northerly breeze. Plenty of small fishing boats were out there and some bigger trawlers. Those attracted hundreds of seabirds, mainly Gulls (mostly Larus fuscus and L. michahellis) but also about a dozen or so Balearic Shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus), starting from the water and landing again (birds in moult) and Cory's Shearwaters, some of them looking very good for Scopoli's (Calonectris (diomedia) diomedia) but let's wait for the promised photos to confirm the Id... we also saw one very contrasting and slim bird - or P.yelkouan or P.puffinus but again we are hoping for the photos because we could not see details of the face (whitish ear-coverts ?) nor any toe-projection...
Here we also had the first Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus), up to 9 birds at the same time, some of them pretty close to the boat and feeding in a loose flock. We just saw one single European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) during the trip ! Almost missed a Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) on its own passing by in western direction (Thanks Magnus !). A single Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) gave good views, too. A wonderful and successful trip !

Pelagic with Passeios Ria Formosa
off Fuzeta (eastern Algarve)
c. 7.20 - 10.15 a.m.
High tide, sea calm
Northerly breeze, hot and sunny

Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedia) 50+
some of them showing characteristics of Scopoli's Shearwater

Manx Shearwater (P. puffinus) or Yelkouan Sw. (P. yelkouan) 1
waiting for photo confirmation...

Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) c. 20

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) 1

European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) 1

Wilson's Storm Petrel
(Oceanites oceanicus) c. 20

Northern Gannet
(Morus bassanus) c. 10

Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) 1

Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) 3

Audouin's Gull (Larus audouinii) 1
plus 4 in Ria Formosa

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 1

Great Skua (Stercorarius Skua) probably 1st summer. Photo: R.S.

Watching Wilson's Storm Petrels. Thanks to Rolf Svennson (left) for sharing his marvelous photos.

Two Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) Photo: R.S.

Cory's Shearwater (Calonectris diomedia) Photo: R.S.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pelagic Trip off Portimão

A pelagic boat-trip with the marine operator Ecoceanus is scheduled for 7.30 a.m. on the 12th of September. In the comfortable 11m catamaran we will be heading out for about 15 miles and do a chumming session to attract the seabirds. Target species are Wilson's Storm Petrel, Great Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater among others. Trip duration is 7h's. Price: 50 €.
Group size is 10 people plus 2 crew members, 4 places are still available for now.
Interested ?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Western Olivaceous Warbler - capture

This juvenile bird has been captured and ringed by Thijs Valkenburg on the 04-08-2010 near Silves (West Algarve).
It shows all characteristics (and biometrics) of Hippolais opaca (Western Olivaceous / Isabelline Warbler) - a species that is an extreme rare breeder in the country.
I have heard and observed a Isabelline Warbler in May with clients near Faro (bird was on passage) and a friend of mine managed some record shots the same day (see the blog-entry here).
The bird moved on and the photos led to some discussion, because some features, namely the undertail coverts (quite long, not white, graduated rectrices ?) did not look so "ideal" (at least compared to illustrations, like in Svensson et al.)
So, now again an opportunity to compare - the undertail coverts fit ! Also the broad bill base JT pointed out on the bird seen in May.

Photos: Thijs Valkenburg, 04-08-2010, Silves (West Algarve).

A nice video of an adult bird in hand is here.