Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Have a great Birding Year 2015 !

What colors ! Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) at "Quinta do Lago" today, January 6th, 2015.

Glorious sunshine, in early January, in Europe's sunniest corner at this time of the year - the Algarve has it. And not only - the birdlife was stunning, too. As stunning, as it is here, basically all year around...

The above Red-brested Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), a first winter bird, was still present here near Faro today, since well about 3 weeks now and it was possible to watch it close up catching insects from its preferred perch with great enthusiasm. Wintering of this long distant migrant in Europe must be an exception, It is a bit "off-track", since this easterly species winters in India and south-east Asia mainly.

A flock of 10 Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) swam near the bus stop to Praia de Faro (Faro-beach) Ria Formosa Natural Park, yesterday afternoon (5th of January 2015). Portugal experiences an unusual strong influx of this species this winter. The flock had been reported last week by Peter Dedicoat already. I spent the last week in Germany (Cologne-area) where I watched many hundreds of Greater White-fronted-, Greyleg- and Barnacle Geese in the lower Rhine-area near the Dutch border (Xanten) and also saw species like Marsh Tit and Goldeneye - birds we don't get here in the south. And, yes, also got some snow!

Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata) winters in the Algarve, particularly around Faro and Vilamoura. This pale morph is at least four or five times more common than the dark one. 

Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) is also wintering in increasing numbers. About ten years ago, only single adult males could be observed in mid winter here, meanwhile a large part of the population seems to stay. This past December I observed birds near Portimão, at Lagoa dos Salgados, in Vilamoura-area, at Lagoa Foz do Almargem, in Ludo and in Quinta do Lago-area, at the latter site also today.

Below you can see this (past) years Christmas card - showing, what was most probably the bird of the year here in Portugal in 2014 - an adult Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea) first for Portugal (and Iberia) found in the harbor of Nazaré at the west coast about an hour north of Lissbon by two travelling birders from abroad - not far from where brave surfers ride the world largest waves. The bird stayed for about 7 days. I went with a couple of friends to twitch it, because it was clear, that this is an unique chance and I have to say that it was well worth the journey. I have got tons of pictures and perhaps will post here a few more.

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