Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red-knobbed Coot near Faro

A Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata) in "Ludo", Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, near Faro today (14-02-2012). The bird had been discovered by Joost Falkenburg earlier this winter. Not the first time this species shows up in the area, but not easy to detect them among all the Common Coots (Fulica atra). These birds can be best found by the blue-grey hue of the bill (instead of the pinkish hue on Common Coot). Also the black feathering in front of the eye extends less towards the bill, than on the commoner species, where it forms a black "spike" towards the bill (rounded and less pointed there on Red-knobbed Coot). The red "bulbs" on this one here are comparatively small and easy to overlook - I suppose it is a "first winter". The lower/flat back and the often "fluffy" rump, might also be a hint to spot these rare birds among the hundreds of Coots. Only about 200-300 pairs nest in Europe, most of them in Andalusia, southern Spain. Last year, two pairs nested in the Alentejo-region in South Portugal, one of them on a small pool, in a mixed pair with a Common Coot, which produced one (hybrid) offspring. Some birds origin from the Doñana-National Park in Andalusia have been marked with a white plastic neck-colar, with a code. But not all Coots marked like this are "cristata", since also the Common ones get a neck-ring when trapped in the procedure...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Color-ringed Spoonbill

Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) feeding in a tidal channel of the Ria Formosa Natural Park near Faro, Algarve, Portugal on the 11th of February 2012.
The bird has been colour-ringed as a nestling in north Germany (Mellum, Niedersachsen) in June 2011 by Olaf Geiter, with whom I catched and ringed Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) near Cologne in 2003 for his dissertation about Neozoa. Its a small world...
I have been reporting ringed Spoonbills, Flamingos, Gulls, Waders and other aquatic birds here in the Algarve for over 10 years now. The birds life-historys reveal that many Individuals keep coming back, not only to the Algarve every winter, but even to the same lagoon or feeding at the same section of a tidal channel for years and years. In case of the Spoonbills, a species that has extended their breeding distribution northwards along the west coast of Europe, many birds wintering here come from the Netherlands or Germany. If you see or (better) photograph color-ringed Spoonbills, it is appreciated if you sent this observation with all the necessary details to the coordinator of the European ringing-projects of the species, Otto Overdijk, e-mail: o.overdijk AT natuurmonumenten.nl

Friday, February 10, 2012

A rare winter guest

This male Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) was filmed at the beach of Vila Real do St. Antonio (Algarve) on the 08/02/2012. It was feeding together with a female in the zone, where the beach meets the pre-dunes, right next to the river-mouth of the Guadiana and pretty confident.
Originally three birds had been discovered at the site in December already. The species nests in the tundra-zone from north Scandinavia on northwards and eastwards and is normally rather a rare winter visitor to Portugal's west coast.

You may want to click on the YouTube-symbol in the right lower corner of the video, to watch it in a larger format and listen to calls at around 0:38

Interesting was also the observation of at least 13 Little Terns (Sterna albifrons) at this time of the year, foraging in the mixing waters of the Guadiana river-mouth. The species is actually strictly an Africa-migrant, but here, some stay during all winter. Possibly the only place in all Europe.
Both, Razorbill (Alca torda) and Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) could be seen entering the river, too.
We found Slender-billed Gulls (Larus genei) in Tavira (in the saltpans on the way to Hotel Vila Galé Albacora) as well as in the saltpans near Fuseta (3 Individuals at each site) the same day, as well as a Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) perched next to an orchard at the N 125 near Luz de Tavira at the end of the day.

A Crested Coot (Fulica cristata) was yesterday still present here in "Ludo" (Faro-area) just east of the so called "São Lourenço-bridge".