Friday, April 30, 2010

Pyramidal Orchids

Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalis) found during "Common Bird Census" (CAC) south of Loulé this week. Lots of migrants have been still on their way - Pied- and Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Northern Wheatears, Common Redstarts, Golden Orioles, Wrynecks, and as a personal highlight - 2 Bonelli's Watblers found singing near Quinta do Lago - a scarce migrant, never had one in spring and singing neither. They only breed further up in the country or in the mountains of Spain (I remember them from Grazalema).

Friday, April 23, 2010


Two friends of mine observed this Buzzard (link) (Note: The very last photo shows a different bird, which was with the bird in question (couple ?) - in the plains of inland Southern Portugal a few days ago. It shows characteristics of or "Steppe Buzzard" (Buteo b. vulpinus) or Long-legged Buzzard (B. rufinus) of the North African subspecies "cirtensis". This can be very difficult and following Dick Forsman here
and considering the wide range of characteristics in Common Buzzard (B.buteo), which can be "red-tailed" for example, it's almost impossible to "call" some types of vagrant "vulpinus" Buzzards.
I think that the wing shape (long and narrow, with s-shape trailing edge) and the dark carpal-patch are pointing towards "cirtensis" in this case, and Gensboel (plate on page 315) shows a dark-rufous morph of Long-legged Buzzard (juvenile plumage) with a dark sub-terminal band (which usually excludes Long-legged on rufous or pale morphs, and dark morph is said not to occur on Long legged "cirtensis"). But the distinctive dark terminal band along the remiges and different generations of remiges exclude this plumage - does a subterminal band in the tail ever occur on dark-rufous morph adult (or subadult) "cirtensis" Long-legged Buzzards ?
The distinctive dark-brown carpal-patches (contrasting to reddish brown remaining underwing coverts) and the white basis of the primaries on the bird in question are remarkable, and so are the very pale scapulars (no idea what the latter might indicate...). The relatively dark head on the other hand, is not so "good" for "cirtensis" ...
Any opinions ? Here the link from Forsman on the ID of Steppe Buzzard again: as well as the this one about Long-legged Buzzard "cirtenesis" even said to have nested in Southern Spain
and this one about a sighting in Southern Spain by Dick Forsman and here is one more, Andrea Corso on "cirtensis":
I have seen Buzzards of this type(s) several times in Southern Portugal (Monchique mountains, Alentejo plains, Tagus-Estuary) and Southern Spain (Doñana, Badajoz-area) already - the ones in Spain almost certainly Long-legged Buzzards, but never had "the guts" to call these birds, because they had a subterminal band in tail in some cases, and particularly not after having dad a look into literature - even if they gave an impression almost like a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle in the first moment in the field...
I would like to see more photos of birds claimed also here in Portugal over the past years and a discussion about it to a larger extend or perhaps a summery report. Same is true for Rueppell's Vulture, now also seen regularly around Portugal's South-western cape (Sagres-area).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red-necked Nightjars (Caprimulgus ruficollis)

They are back in the Algarve - yesterday evening, just after sunset, 3-4 Ind. were singing at my "home patch" here next to Faro for a while - but not yet continuously. In one or two weeks time they will be singing here right out of my front door. That is also where I heard my first Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters and Common Cuckoo this year - sitting at the desk, door open - it's nice here !

Little and Tawny Owls were active, too and earlier, at the Golf course lake, I got good views of Great Reed Warbler singing and a total of 3 male Little Bittern displaying and fighting each other within a hardly 100m range around the hide.

Photo of the species (link)

Poster about the migration of the species (Spanish)

Distribution-map of the species

Moulting in Red-necked Nightjars

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Red-rumped Swallows (Hirundo daurica)

Yesterday I did a Tour into the Serra de Caldeirão north of Faro and further north, into the Baixo Alentejo around Almodovar. We had rain most of the day, so conditions were rather difficult. Never the less it turned out to be a successful birding day after all. Birds in the Serra included Subalpine, Dartford- and Melodious Warbler, Golden Oriole, Common Redstart, Crested Tit and Rock Bunting.

Male Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax). Digiscoped out of the car.

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) - "wet-look".

In the open fields and meadows, north of the Serra, we saw quite a lot of Little Bustards - mainly males, displaying or in small groups, well 20 in total and two times a female. Plus 3 Great Bustards. When ever the rain stopped, Montagu's Harriers were scanning the fields for food, or up to 6 together were in the air for display and territorial flights. Calandra- and Short-toed Larks were widespread and we got excellent vies of both, plus a Tawny Pipit flying over. Stone Curlews were calling and flew when we left the car. We also saw both, Common- and Great Spotted Cuckoo and found around 20 Collared Pratincoles on an acre, some very close to the track. They looked quite odd in the heavy rain when we watched them out of the car. Neither much raptors nor Spectacled- or Western Orphean Warbler, both occurring in the area, could be found due to the bad weather.

(Greater) Short-toed Larks (Calandrella brachydactyla) gave excellent views on the track just at a few meters in front of the car.

Tongue-Orchid (Serapis spec.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Evening walk

Wryneck (Jynx torquila) sunbathing in the late afternoon.

Left the house in the late afternoon on another sunny day today for the parts of Ria Formosa Natural Park I am living next to. Wildflowers are still stunning where ever one looks. A perched Black-Kite and many Bee-eaters and Azur-winged Magpies (or should I say Iberian- ?) were the first birds I noticed. I had good observations of Little Bittern and also managed some digiscoping-shots. Nearby, a Wryneck sung loudly. I then saw it in a Pine Tree and got some record shots, as well. I scanned the flocks of Dunlins and Little Stints in a tidal lagoon, mixed with a few other wader-species, but there wasn't anything "unusual" among them. Visiting previous years nesting side of Savi's Warbler produced 2 singing males. Purple Heron (couple), a few Spoonbills and an adult Black-crowned Night Heron were at the same place. Water Rail, Little Bittern and Purple Gallinule were heard, plus Stone Curlew on the way back to the car.

Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)

3500 pairs of Glossy Ibis at their nests

Coto Doñana Natural Park (Andalusia, Spain) yesterday - the colony of Glossy Ibis in the Northern Marsh is growing from year to year since the birds started nesting there in 1996 and has now reached incredible 3500 nests. On our way, we saw about 500 Gull-billed Terns feeding over an area of the Marsh, about 200-300 Whiskered Terns over the lagoon of El Rocio alone and well 50 Collared Pratincoles together in another area. Black-crowned Night-Herons, Purple- and Squacco Herons at their nests, Short-toed- and Booted Eagles, many Black Kites, Marsh- and Montagu's Harriers, more than 20 Griffon Vultures... lots of Short-toed Larks and Lesser Short-toed Larks on the (bad) track... flocks of Calandra Larks (one of about 200) in the fields, Sedge and Great Reed Warblers singing, and many, many more.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Castro Marim

Collared Pratincoles (Glareola pratincola)

Visited the Reserve of Castro Marim, at the border to Spain on Wednesday afternoon with Philip Precey from wildlife-travel(UK). We found all the target species for the trip quite soon - Lesser short-toed Lark doing display flights, Spectacled Warblers only showed up for seconds, because they are incubating now, and Collared Pratincoles (17 Ind. together) gave excellent and close views at their roost. Later the were flushed by a local farmer with a Shepperd's dog walking close by. I always try to have an eye on who or what is actually causing disturbance in the reserves, because there have been a lot of discussions on this issue (including signalization of tracks, closing areas or have areas with limited access).
We had good views of a small flock of Little Bustards (almost all males) flying by and landing, they had been flushed by a male Marsh Harrier. We also saw Montagu's Harriers well, and Stone-Curlew had been very active. Short-toed-, Thekla- and Common Crested Larks, Spanish Sparrows, Red-rumped Swallow and Pallid Swifts had been other birds of the trip. On Sunday I am off to Doñana, Andalusia(E)- birding what is supposed to be one of the best areas in SW-Europe. White-headed Duck and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse are on the "wish list"...
Today biking with my son in Ludo/Faro, Bee-eaters and Hoppoes "everywhere" and Wryneck calling consistently.