Thursday, May 13, 2021

The colours of spring

Red-legged Partridge / Rothuhn (Alectoris rufa), locally know as "Perdiz", is a common sighting on the field tracks in the region and also one of its main game birds.

The Baixo Alentejo region in Portugals interior south is characterized by a mix of grass- and pasture land, wide open cereal steppes and scatered Holm Oak Trees. In mid winter and spring it turns into a "sea of flowers" and is home to several endangered grassland bird species... and frankly a paradise for birdwatchers!

A male Lesser Kestrel / Rötelfalke / Penereiro-das-torres (Falco naumanni) about to land near a wooden nest box in a small town at the Guadiana-river, Alentejo, Portugal, 27-April-2021. Traditionally mainly nesting in colonies in abandoned farm buildings in the region, the breeding success and population size of the species could be increased by providing nest boxes and later also special designed, artificial buildings, by the Portuguese NGO "LPN" and the Guadiana Natural Park authorities.

These photos were taken during my Guided birding & Bird photography-tours in the Baixo Alentejo-region of south Portugal in April & May 2021. All photos: © Georg Schreier.

A different male of the same species with it's prey - a large Centipede, probably Megarian Banded Centepede (Scolopendra cingulata) to feed the incubating female or already the young chicks in the nestbox. The species arrives usually in the first half of February from its wintering grounds in sub-saharian Africa.

The same Ind. as above.

Landing approach - stooping down with "landing flaps" up (actually these feathers are called "Alula"). Watching Lesser Kestrels, you can not help to get the impression that they, like other bird of prey species, pretty much enjoy flying and dominating the air space around their nests.
A male showing some of the "key features" of the species compared to Common Kestrel: The greater secondary coverts forming a grey band along the upper wing, seperating the reddish-brown mantle (lacks black spots! Mantle spotted on Common Kestrel) and lesser upperwing coverts, from the blackish-brown wing feathers (remiges). The head appears uniformly bluish-grey, lacking almost completely the dark moustache that Common Kestrel shows running down in front of the eye along the cheeks. Bill base is pale and claws are whitish (not visible on the photo, but a good feature to distinguish the females of both species in the scope when perched). Frequently heard call, especially during the display flights of the male, is a harsh, two- or three syllable "Chè-Chè", example: Here

Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra) is locally common in dry grassland, but only to be found in the central areas of the regions "pseudosteppe", where its song is ever present in spring, continuous and full of imitations of local bird species. Its Europe's biggest Lark-species and rather timid.

European Roller / Blauracke (Coracias garrulus)

Gull-billed Terns / Lachseeschwalben (Gelochelidon nilotica)

European Bee-eater / Bienenfresser (Merops apiaster)

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)

Spanish Sparrow / Weidensperling (Passer hispaniolensis)

Little Bustard / Zwergtrappe (Tetrax tetrax) male. A now critically endangered species also in Portugal, where the current intensification of agriculture has lead to massive habitat losses and population decline.

Spanish Eagle / Spanischer Kaiseradler (Aquila adalberti