Sunday, April 5, 2015

Africa-migrants returning to the Algarve

European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are widespread in the Algarve an usually arrive here in late March.
(Photo: Ludo (Faro), 04-04-2015, Georg Schreier)

The first European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) arrived during the last week here in the south of Portugal, as could be expected with the warm weather (up to 30 degrees C) we finally experience. A rather late date, as cold, northerly wind blocked migration for about two weeks.
Rarities of the last weeks included up to three Little Crakes (Porzana parva) at Quinta do Lago, of which I saw one female on March, 26th. The species seem to stop over at this site during migration (mainly March and September) on a regular basis.

At the same location, a "suspicious" Sandpiper (Actitis sp.) I found caused a bit of confusion, showing charakteristics of a Spotted Sandpiper (A. macularius) including a very short tail-projection, plain tertials, lacking any serration, yellowish leggs. However, finally obtained flight shots showed a bold white wing bar reaching the body, reveiled that it was a infact a first winter Common Sandpiper (A. hypoleucos) moulting its tail feathers (compare photos below.)

The first winter (probably female) Red-brested Flycatcher reported here before, was last seen on the 21st of March.
Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Weaver and many more were very obliging in front of the hide at the same time. One (or possible two) singing Savi's Warblers (Locustella luscionides) at "Boca do Rio" (Budens) on March, 27th and a male Common Redstart (Phoenicurous phoenicuros) yesterday (04/04/15) are further arrival dates of migratory Passerines this spring.

The Alentejo plains have been marvellous over the past few weeks, with Great Spotted Cuckoos, Lesser Kestrels, displaying Great- and Little Bustards, displaying Spanish Imperial Eagles, Eurasian Black Vultures (up to 6 Ind. together on March, 25th, near Mértola) an immature Golden Eagle (same date) and many more.

Great Bustards (Otis tarda) in flight. Near Castro Verde, March 2015. Foto: Georg Schreier.

A male Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in full display, surrounded by several females.
CastroVerde-area, March 2015. Foto: Georg Schreier.

The wide, open landscape is a sea of wild flowers, as usual at this time of the year.

Purple Viper's Bugloss (Echium platagineum) in the Baixo Alentejo, March 2015.

Golden Wreath (Acacia saligna) near Quinta do Lago, Loulé, March 2015.

Peony (Paeonia broteroi) is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. Rocha da Pena, March 2015.