Southern Portugal - 1st - 8th May 2016

Published by Guillaume Réthoré (gui AT

Participants: Cornelius and Virginia Lettinga, Guillaume Réthoré


Sunday 1st May - Arrival

For this “Birds, birds, birds!” spring trip, I picked-up Neil and Virginia at Faro airport fairly late so we headed straight back to Cruzinha (A Rocha Portugal Study Centre). Everybody went to bed soon after our arrival to be ready and rested for the next day.

Monday 2nd May - Sagres

After a short night’s sleep, the birdwatching group headed to the end of the world! As Sagres peninsula is the most south westerly point of Europe, ancient people believed that the world ended there. We left at 8:30 am on a bright and warm day.

On the track leaving Cruzinha, we saw a Hoopoe briefly and had good views of Serin, Woodchat Shrike, Bee-eater and Azure-winged Magpie. Passing by Odiaxere, we observed the Storks on their nest.

At Sagres, our first stop was Ponta da Atalaia. From the car park, we saw a Thekla Lark singing on top of a rock and also many Pallid Swifts flying around us, creating spectacular views. Further, we had a better look at the Thekla Lark and noticed a big flock of swifts approaching us. In the flock, few Common Swifts were mixed with Pallid Swifts, allowing us to observe differences between them. We went on the boardwalk and had a look at a Kestrel on the ground. Unfortunately, this bird took off rapidly but we had good flight views before spotting a second one. From our position, we found a Black Redstart perched on an Agave where a Spotless Starling was also perched. A Barn Swallow flew past us, followed by a Red-billed Chough which then disappeared behind a cliff. Just after, 2 Peregrine Falcons flew past but were gone quickly. Before reaching the trig point Neil found another Black Redstart.

From there, we looked out to sea but only saw the common Yellow-legged Gulls. However, many swifts were flying around us, some quite low. Neil found a Shag flying past our position but it was a little far away. A Sardinian Warbler perched on a bush in front of the sea and remained a short while, giving us a good view. As we were leaving the place, an immature Gannet also appeared over the sea, not too far from where we were.

We started walking back to the car, stopping to look again at a Black Redstart while a Red-rumped Swallow was flying around us. Before reaching the car park, we looked at a Thekla Lark singing in flight and also found a Woodchat Shrike perched on an Agave along with a Stonechat.

We then went to Cabranosa, one of the best spots to watch raptor migration in autumn. Just after leaving Ponta da Atalaia, we saw a Spotted Flycatcher, an uncommon spring migrant sitting in a Pine Tree. Then, we proceeded along a dirt track. Very early on, we saw a male Montagu’s Harrier and many Spotted Flycatchers, along the pine hedge at the side of the track. On one spot, we also saw 2 Whinchats with the Flycatchers and were lucky enough to see them very clearly. We had our coffee break looking at 2 Choughs, which flew quite close to us.

We continued along the pine hedge, on the sheltered side. Several birds were perched in the trees: a family of Stonechats and several Goldfinches, however, the light was poor. Neil found a bird that he showed us through a telescope: a Roller! This is an uncommon species to see in the Algarve, and we could clearly see it despite the distance. We walked more and stopped by a pinewood. There, a few Bee-eaters were flying around. A Turtle Dove appeared and perched in a Pine tree so we tried to have a better look. Unfortunately, we only managed to have a quick look before this bird flew out of view. Several Spotted Flycatchers, a Goldfinch and a Whinchat were also present. Turning down a smaller path, we saw yet more Spotted Flycatchers and Stonechats. We stopped to look at a Zitting Cisticola singing in flight. Nearby, a Corn Bunting was also singing, but perched on a bush. We also spotted a Short-toed Snake Eagle in flight. This bird crossed with 2 more flying in the opposite direction. We could see these birds well despite the distance. We stood a bit further, listening and looking at the species around us which included Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Blackbird. A Black Kite then flew past us and one of the Short-toed Eagles reappeared. As we were leaving, we found a Bonelli’s Warbler, pretty close. The walk back to the car was quiet, but we did manage to see Goldfinches, Spotted Flycatchers, Woodchat Shrikes and Stonechats.

Following this, we then moved to the picnic site seeing many Spotted Flycatchers on the way. At one point, 4 were sitting on the same tree with a Whinchat also, thus group was soon joined by a Black-eared Wheatear. Just after stepping out of the car, we found 2 Spectacled Warblers. We had a delicious lunch, whilst looking at Spotted and a Pied Flycatcher. A Turtle Dove perched near us, giving us better a view than earlier, which was a nice treat.

Next, we headed to Cape St Vincent. Neil found a Black Redstart just after we had arrived. The bushes near the lighthouse were full of migrant birds, mostly Spotted Flycatchers with a Willow Warbler, 2 Melodious Warblers and a Common/Iberian Chiffchaff. A male Blue Rock Thrush was posing on a wall nearby. A Garden Warbler even appeared on top of bush where it stayed a few golden seconds before disappearing. We checked for gulls but only 2nd year Yellow-legged Gulls were present and a Gannet passed at sea.

We went to a local café for a drink outside before continuing. This was the occasion when we got to have a close look at a Red-rumped Swallow perched on a wire.

We went back to Cruzinha via Vale Santo. Right at the beginning of the trip, we stopped to look for Little Bustards. We heard a male but could not see it. Virginia found a Little Owl perched on a pile of rocks and a White Stork was feeding in a field. A few metres ahead, we had another look at the field and managed to see the display of a male Little Bustard. The next stop was short as few birds were in sight due to the strong wind. We only heard a Skylark singing but failed to spot it. The rest of the journey was quiet, only seeing Stonechats and Corn Buntings.

We came back to Cruzinha where we had the first of many good dinners.

Tuesday 3rd May - Monchique Hills

After spending a day on the coast, Monchique offered a totally different landscape and habitat. We left Cruzinha later than planned because of administrative tasks. The weather was sunny and warm.

We first stopped near a small wetland where a few birds were present: Mallards and a White Stork. House Sparrows and Waxbills were feeding in the vegetation along a pond. Barn Swallows were flying around us and a Zitting Cisticola was singing but out of sight. Several Cattle Egrets landed near the pond. These birds were in breeding plumage, with orange feathers on the head, chest and back. We walked towards a river where juveniles Swallows were fed by adults. We had good views of a Serin perched on a dead branch. We came back slowly to the car, and heard a Blackcap and a Cetti’s Warbler nearby but failed to see them.

We resumed our journey, seeing many White Storks on the way and stopped at Caldas de Monchique, a small thermal village. As we stepped out of the car, we heard many birds singing but most of them invisible to us: Wren, Blackcap, Goldfinch and Blue Tit. We went to a small chapel and stayed there a little while. Several birds were singing but were hard to see. A couple of Goldfinches were the only birds visible as they were flying around us. After a while, a Chaffinch came and drank in a stream. Neil found a Blackcap and then 2 Greenfinches appeared. We walked behind the chapel where a Blue Tit was calling but not everybody saw it. We also had a glimpse of a Crested Tit. We came back to the main square, seeing 2 Grey Wagtails on the way, one of them collecting nest materials.

We had lunch in the shade of big trees, listening to running water. At the beginning of lunch, we saw a Blue Tit and then a Chaffinch. We also heard a Spotless Starling and a Wood Pigeon. A distant Cuckoo was heard. At the end of the meal, this bird seemed closer, so we tried to find it, but without any result. We came back to the car where Virginia found a Nuthatch climbing a branch.

We went to Foia, the highest point (902 m), where we spent the rest of the afternoon. We spotted a Stonechat when we arrived and then a female Blue Rock Thrush on top of an antenna. The view to the coast was nice as the weather was clear. A Wren was singing but again out of sight. A Rock Bunting was singing on top of a rock, allowing nice views and Red-rumped Swallows were flying around us. We walked a bit and found many Stonechats. We had great views of a Melodious Warbler singing from the top of a bush. A few metres ahead, 2 Whitethroats seemed to be collecting nest materials in a bush. Then, one of these birds crossed the road just in front of us and landed really close to us. We had great views of this bird. We walked down the road, having more good views of Stonechats, Melodious Warblers and Whitethroats. A singing Wren challenged us to find it, and we did! Scanning the surrounding, we found a bird of prey. However, this bird was flying away, and the angle did not allow us to identify it. We came back slowly to the car park. There, we scanned the landscape around us and found 2 more birds of prey. Unfortunately, they disappeared before we managed to identify them but we had good views of Dartford Warblers.

We went down the hill and stopped for a few minutes by the road, looking for more birds. A few Red-rumped Swallows and a House Martin were flying around and drinking in a nearby reservoir. This allowed us to see the differences between the two species. On the opposite bank, a Nightingale was singing, hidden in the vegetation. We heard the Cuckoo again and as it seemed closer, we tried to see it.

We went up a small track and stopped by a clearing. Two Red-legged Partridges were present when we arrived. The Cuckoo was still calling and also a Green Woodpecker but none were in sight. Neil and I decided to walk around a patch of trees hoping to see these birds. Unfortunately these 2 birds moved as we did. We had a distant view of the Woodpecker on a dead trunk. Back at the car, Virginia had seen this bird too and the Cuckoo was still calling. We had a last look around before leaving and we found it. The Cuckoo was perched on a branch, singing. Mission accomplished! We drove back to Monchique, seeing a Sparrowhawk on the way. We were back at Cruzinha at the end of the afternoon after a good and hot day.

Wednesday 4th May - Abicada and Alvor Dunes

We left early and under a cloudy sky, ready for some rain. We saw Azure-winged Magpies and House Sparrows on the way to the car park. From there, we looked at a small marsh nearby but only Black-winged Stilts and a Moorhen were present. Barn Swallows and House Martins were flying around us, quite low. The water level of the lake was quite low so some waders were present. We looked at a group of Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and Redshank. Seeing them together allowed comparison between species: the Redshank were the biggest with red legs, the Dunlin had a black belly and the Ringed Plovers a black collar.

We walked to the dam along the lake. On the opposite bank a Grey Heron was flying low, mobbed by gulls. The tide was low so some birds were feeding on the Alvor side. A Little Egret was close enough for us to see its yellow feet. Several Whimbrels were more distant. We walked along the dyke and looked at 2 Grey Herons and a Cormorant in flight. On the marsh side, many Black-winged Stilts were present, some of them were fighting for territories or partners, and others were incubating eggs. A group of Coots were swimming on the lagoon. We had close views of Flamingos. Three of them were juveniles, still very pale, the other 2 were adults, more pink in colour. A Black-winged Kite appeared in the distance and after a while, we realised there were 2 different birds. We looked at the passerines on the marsh side. A Crested Lark landed near a Yellow Wagtail and 2 Linnets flew past us. We reached the river and heard a Golden Oriole far away. We looked at a pond before walking along the river; about 10 Flamingos were feeding and flew away when we arrived. Black-winged Stilts and Grey Plovers, some of them in breeding plumage were also present.

Ahead, we had good views of 2 Linnets perched on a bush and a glimpse of a Zitting Cisticola. We had a coffee break before continuing. Two Azure-winged Magpies posed for us while Barn Swallows and House Martins were flying around us. The path went across farmland habitat. We had a close look at a Corn Bunting singing from the top of a small tree before reaching the main track. A Sardinian Warbler and a Nightingale were singing but we only managed to see the latter one. We walked along an alley of cypress where many Serins and Goldfinches were singing. Four Black-winged Kites flew from a dead tree where they were perched; probably a family. We went around the farm buildings and stood by the Roman ruins looking towards the small marsh nearby. Many birds were present as there was still water. The first one we saw was a Purple Swamphen. This bird showed well before disappearing in the vegetation. Coots, Moorhens, Mallards and a Little Egret were on the same pond. Closer to us, a second Swamphen was visible in the vegetation along a small lagoon were Black-winged Stilts and Mallards were feeding. Several Spoonbills and 5 Avocets were also present. A Cetti’s Warbler was singing in the reedbed but it was not visible to us, as usual. Scanning the surrounding, we found 2 Purple Heron next to a Grey Heron. A great sighting! A small group of Flamingos which were hidden from us appeared as 2 Redshanks landed nearby, followed by 2 Shelducks. Unfortunately, these last birds went out of sight. While we were waiting for them to show up again, we looked again at the Spoonbills, Swamphens and Purple Heron which were showing better. Finally, the Shelducks came into the open as a Hoopoe was singing.

Lunchtime was getting closer so we started walking back to the car. We heard a Quail after passing the farm buildings. No new species were seen until we reached the lagoon. We had another look at it and spotted a Greenshank by a Black-winged Stilt. The Grey Plovers were still present and a Dunlin was with them. We looked again at the Flamingos and Cormorant. Back at the car, we checked the birds on the small marsh: still Black-winged Stilts and a Moorhen were present.

We then headed to Alvor beach for lunch. The plan was to eat from the boardwalk but it was too windy so we had picnic by the car, looking at Goldfinches. Then, we explored the dunes along the boardwalk. The first birds seen were House Sparrows. We looked at several Spotless Starlings perched on a wire and at a Crested Lark on the ground. A few metres ahead, an adult Yellow-legged Gull (which really had yellow legs) was looking for food in the dune. From the main track, we saw a Zitting Citicola singing and flying above us. We had a look at the Ria de Alvor estuary. As the tide was high, no sand bars were visible, so no waders were present. Above the dunes, a Short-toed Lark was singing.

Unfortunately, this bird disappeared as soon as it landed. Another one landed closer to us but was hardly visible because of the vegetation. Further, we found 2 more Short-toed Larks that we managed to see. As we approached the break water wall, we found a male Kentish Plover posing for us in the dunes.

We came back along the beach. We heard a group of Little Terns and found them flying above the sea. They landed on the beach so we tried to get closer to have a better look at them. A flock of Sanderlings and 2 Kentish Plovers were resting on the beach near us. The Terns flew as some people walked by them. The Sanderlings also flew and landed further, soon joined by the Little Terns and a few Kentish Plovers. Some of the terns had a fish in their beak and offered it to the females as a courtship. We had good views of the terns as we walked along the beach.

We came back to the boardwalk and had a look at the sea but only found a Gannet. We did the last part of the walk near the mudflats of the Ria de Alvor estuary. Some areas were out of the water where a few birds were feeding: Ringed Plovers, 2 Sanderlings and a Whimbrel. We crossed the dunes on the boardwalk, went back to the main track and to the car park.

Thursday 5th May - Open Day at Cruzinha and Lagoa dos Salgados

As Thursday is Cruzinha’s open day, everybody was able to enjoy the activities set up at the centre: moth identification and bird ringing demonstration, including coffee and cake in the middle of the activities. The morning was pretty exciting in spite of the rain, with species like Hoopoe and Barn and Red-rumped Swallow caught. Rarer species were also caught such as Redstart, Orphean Warbler or even a Western Olivaceaous Warbler. The identification of this last species was confirmed later after sharing pictures of this bird with other observers. The activities stopped early because of the rain and we had a good lunch at the centre.

We left after eating a piece of birthday cake and went to one of the richest but still threatened Algarvian wetlands: Lagoa dos Salgados. This place is usually good for waders, ducks, herons, flamingos and sometimes more unusual species. Again, we were not disappointed as we saw a good range of species. From the path leading to the lagoon we saw that the water level was good and many birds seemed to be present. On the way to the car park, we saw a Red-legged Partridge, Crested Larks and many Cattle Egrets perched on the same tree.

We parked by the beach and walked to the “bird hide”. On the way, we saw Goldfinches and a Cisticola. We heard an Acrocephalus warbler and tried to see it. While looking for this bird, we found a Little Bittern in a patch of reeds. Whilst looking at it, we found a Great Reed Warbler, which was the singing bird we were looking for! We went closer to have a better view. The Bittern disappeared in the reeds but the Warbler stayed in the same spot. From there, we could see a good variety of birds: Avocets, Gadwalls and Pochards, all in the same frame of view. Black-winged Stilts and Shovelers were in a pond near us. We walked to the hide. Black-winged Stilts, Moorhens, Coots and Little Grebes were in front of it. We checked the many gulls and found a Stork, 2 Audouin’s and a Lesser Black-backed in the middle of the Yellow-legged Gulls. We first checked the northern part of the lagoon and found a distant male Red-crested Pochard behind a group of Flamingos, some of them very pink. Two Ferruginous Ducks were also distant but we still had a good look at them. Scanning the islands, we spotted a Stone Curlew next to a Black-winged Stilt. A Little Tern flew in front of the hide and Neil found a Glossy Ibis in flight near us. This bird passed above a Purple Heron walking in the open for a few seconds before hiding in vegetation. A small flock of Spoonbills were sleeping on one of the islands. Several Collared Pratincoles were flying in the distance but never came close enough for good observation. Pochards were sleeping on the southern part of the lagoon and Neil spotted a Common Sandpiper. We enjoyed the show of these birds for a few more minutes before heading to the boardwalk as another group of birders arrived.

On the way, we saw a Kestrel against the light. From the boardwalk, we had a different view of the lagoon. Avocets, Little Terns, Black-winged Stilts, Mallards and 3 Grey Plovers were sharing an island and were soon joined by Flamingos. Two Purple Herons flew above the lagoon. We found a Little Gull sitting on an island with a Black-headed Gull standing nearby. This allowed us to compare the size of these two birds. We walked along the reedbed seeing only a few birds. We reached the end of the lagoon where a Purple Swamphen was showing well. While we were looking at this bird, a male Little Bittern flew from one patch of reeds to another. Further ahead, only Coots were present, so we walked back to the car park. We looked again at the Swamphen which was using its big feet to eat. On the opposite bank, we found a Black-headed Weaver’s nest but no weaver. Looking at the Coots, we noticed that one was wearing an engraved collar. After some research, we discovered this bird had been marked in Spain.

Before reaching the car park, we had a last look at the lagoon. A female Mallard was harassed by a male and a Swamphen was pretty close to the boardwalk. We also looked for the Curry plant but without success. On the way out, we had good views of Cattle Egrets in breeding plumage and saw a Jay in Alcantarilha while being sat in a traffic jam.

Back at Cruzinha, the weather was threatening. We had dinner and everybody went to bed early because we had a long birdwatching day ahead on Friday.

Friday 6th May - Castro Verde

Friday was the longest day of the week in terms of time spent in the field. The Castro Verde area has a totally different landscape from the Algarve and different birds as well… We left very early (about 6:00), under a cloudy sky, to be in the field at sunrise. We saw a Little Owl straight after leaving Cruzinha. It rained during the journey but it stopped before reaching Castro Verde and we even saw a Raven on the way.

We arrived at Castro Verde by 7:30 and on the way to the LPN (Liga para a Proteção da Natureza) reserve (also called Vale Gonçalinho); we stopped for breakfast (tea, coffee, bread, jam) in the field. It was a bit windy and chilly but we hoped the weather would improve. Zitting Cisticolas and Corn Buntings were singing around us while Barn Swallows were flying pretty low. By the end of breakfast, we saw a male Montagu’s Harrier, the first bird of prey of the day. We went on the other side of the road to have a look around. Many Cattle Egrets were on a tree, some of them on nest. We also saw Crested Larks, Stonechats and Corn Buntings. As we were leaving, a Black Kite appeared, pretty close to us.

As the reserve only opened at 9:00, we started birdwatching on the way. The first stop was at a higher place on the road. A Grey Heron, a White Stork and a Buzzard were sharing a field with sheep. We found a male Black-eared Wheatear on a fence. A flock of falcons were hunting, probably Lesser Kestrels. This identification was confirmed when we had a good look at a bird flying closer to us. Before we left, 2 Spoonbills appeared in flight, and we saw a Black Kite again and a male Montagu’s Harrier not too far from us. On the way to the next stop, we saw Collared Doves, a Magpie and a Carrion Crow. The second stop was a bit disappointing with only a couple of Carrion Crows and 2 Gull-billed Terns flying above a field.

Then, we turned onto a dirt track leading to the LPN reserve. We did not see much until the LPN buildings were in view. Two Rollers were sitting on a Bustard-shaped sign - a great sighting. A Red-legged Partridge on the road let us come pretty close before taking flight. As the centre was still closed, we started walking around the property. Our first stop was to look at a flock of Jackdaws on the ground. We used this pause to look at a tower where Lesser Kestrels nest thanks to nest boxes set up. Several falcons were flying around or sitting on rocks. A Great Bustard was flying in the distance and 2 more were on an elevation. We continued walking and stopped on a bridge crossing a stream. Many birds were singing: Zitting Cisticola, Corn Bunting, Quail and Calandra Lark. Corn Buntings and Bee-eaters were sitting on a fence close-by. We passed the property gates and spotted a Little Bustard in flight. This bird, a male, landed in the open and gave us nice views. A Fox appeared. We looked at it running in the field as it flushed Calandra Larks. We saw the lark’s main characteristics (black underwing, white trailing edge of the wings) despite the distance. We still saw a Raven and 2 more Gull-billed Terns before moving on. We stopped near 2 big Eucalyptus and a few olive trees after passing a very wet part of the path and saw another Spoonbill. Several Bee-eaters and 2 Hoopoes were around. At some point, it was even possible to see both species in the same telescope frame. A Great Spotted Cuckoo was sitting on a rock, looking a bit damp. Unfortunately, the weather seemed to get worse... Near old farm buildings Lesser Kestrels were flying around. We found 9 Great Bustards on an elevation and had good views despite the drizzle. Many Cattle Egrets (at least 65) were in the same field. As it was raining more, we took shelter in one of the farm buildings, looking again at the bustards, this time in a dry place. We resumed the walk when the weather improved. We did not see much until reaching a higher spot, only Corn Buntings and Barn Swallows flying low. From there, we looked around, but again, no birds were in sight. We stopped again near another structure built for Lesser Kestrels to breed. Some birds were around; the Calandra Larks continued to sing. We started walking back to the centre, exchanging observations with another birder on the way. At that time, the weather seemed to improve (at least it was not raining anymore). We passed the gate and crossed the stream again. Lesser Kestrels were still flying around.

Back at the centre, as it was opened, we had a quick chat with the LPN workers and left a donation to help them continue their great work in the area. We went towards Entradas and stopped by a pond to have lunch. The place was dry a few weeks ago and now had water and birds: Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, White Storks, a Grey Heron, many Barn Swallows (hunting insects above the water) and 2 White Wagtails. It was too windy to eat on the tables so we hid behind the car. We had a rest after lunch (Neil won the contest of who falls asleep the fastest) and checked the pond again after but no new species had appeared. Neil found 2 Black Kites in the distance.

We drove towards another village and stopped on a higher spot to look around. We found a Marsh Harrier. Virginia spotted an unidentified bird which turned out to be a Little Bustard. On the other side of the road, a Black Kite was soaring. Before we reached farm buildings, we saw Calandra Larks flying around the car. It was a much better sighting than during the morning. We arrived in an area with more trees and stopped again by a river. The first bird that we heard when we stepped out of the car was a singing Nightingale. Many House Martins, Barn Swallows and Bee-eaters were flying around us. A Spanish Pond Turtle was sunbathing and soon 2 more appeared. A couple of birders arrived and we looked at the birds together for a few minutes. A Woodlark started singing but we could not find it, and a Kestrel was hunting near us. Neil and Virginia found a Black Kite and a Wood Pigeon flew nearby. We drove a bit further and stopped by a pond where 2 Gadwalls flew when we arrived. Only 4 Black-winged Stilts were present, so we continued our journey.

We found a Black Kite when we reached another village. A flock of passerines caught our attention. Many House Sparrows and some Goldfinches were having a bath while a Corn Bunting was perched on a fence. We crossed the village and had a look at the many Stork nests along the road. Spanish Sparrows use these nests to make their own so we looked for them. We saw several characteristic males, with their brown head, white cheek and a lot of black on the chest. Neil found a soaring bird of prey in the distance: a Cinereous Vulture, the 7th bird of prey species for the day! As we left, a light morph Booted Eagle appeared but if flew away quickly - not a great sighting.

We drove towards a vantage point. On the way, we saw a Southern Grey Shrike and male Black-eared Wheatear. When the hill was in sight, we noticed about 10 large soaring birds around: Griffon Vultures. Before reaching the top of the hill, we stopped and had a close view of 5 of them. We hoped to see them again from the vantage point but they had disappeared when we got there. We walked to the chapel. From there, we heard and saw Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Barn Swallows. Scanning the surrounding, we found 2 Griffon Vultures, one of them approaching our position before it disappeared behind a hill. A Red-legged Partridge was perched on a rock and a male Montagu’s Harrier was soaring over the fields. The view was nice in spite of the lack of birds.

We went down the hill on a different track. We saw another Black-eared Wheatear perched on a fence, a Woodchat Shrike and 2 Red-legged Partridges crossed the track in front of us. Before reaching the tarmac road, we looked at a Little Owl on its habitual pile of rocks.

We drove towards another village, Alvares, south of the places visited during the day, seeing more Storks on nest and many Southern Grey Shrikes perched on wires along the way. Then, we took a dirt track and stopped by a small pond. Several birds were present: a Cattle Egret, a White Stork, a Spoonbill, a Collared Dove and a Little Ringed Plover. They flew away, one after another until only the Plover remained. Another White Stork was hunting in a field and Neil found a Magpie while several Little Bustards were calling. The 10th species of bird of prey of the day was seen from that spot too, a Short-toed Eagle. A Flock of vultures were in a thermal and started gliding towards us before changing direction: 4 Griffon and a 3 Cinereous Vultures. We stopped again near a small lagoon with less water than usual but many birds were there: 4 Gadwalls, 2 males Red-crested Pochards, 6 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Black-winged Stilts, 16 Collared Pratincoles, a Sanderling, a White Wagtail, Mallards, a Common Sandpiper and a Gull-billed Tern. Red Deer were on the field on the other side of the track. Three Griffon Vultures were perched on a cliff in the distance. We left as it was time to go to the restaurant for dinner.

The trip was quiet until we found a bird of prey. It seemed big and was soaring near the road. We stopped the car to have a better look; it was an immature Spanish Imperial Eagle! We had great views as it was flying low. As it landed and only the upper part of its body was visible. A Falcon mobbed it and made it take off. It passed above the road before flying away. We noticed another bird perched on a trig point, which turned out to be another Spanish Imperial Eagle. This bird took off, and flew a bit around, allowing us to see that it was carrying a transmitter, before returning to its previous perch. What better way to finish the day?
We came back to Entradas for dinner. We had local food (black pork) and local wine. We were back around 22:15, all very tired, so everybody went to bed.

Saturday 7th May - Ria de Alvor

The plan for Saturday changed a bit. As the weather forecast was not great, we decided to go to Ria de Alvor. We left later than usual since the previous day had been a long one. We saw 2 Hoopoes on the way to the marsh.

At the car park, many Barn Swallows were flying low, a sign of bad weather. Flamingos were visible in the marsh. It was very windy with a low tide, not the ideal conditions for birdwatching! We saw few birds on the first part of the walk. In the estuary, some people were cockling. We had a close look at a Whimbrel. In the distance, an Audouin’s Gull was in a mixed flock of Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. In the marsh, a small group of Flamingos was pretty close and we saw well a male Kentish Plover. Zitting Cisticolas and Corn Buntings were singing. A Hoopoe flew above the marsh. We walked passed a seashell farm and headed towards the old saltpans. Many Fiddler Crabs were displaying on the mudflats.

The first tanks were empty of birds. On the river side, we had close views of Ringed Plovers. A male Stonechat showed well, perched on a twig. While looking at this bird, a Yellow Wagtail flew by. Further away, we found a female Kentish Plover on its nest and then, another one with 2 juveniles. The last tanks were the most interesting, with Flamingos, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Little Egrets and Spoonbills. It was even possible to see these 3 last species in the same telescope frame.

We found another female Kentish Plover on the last bit of track around the marsh. Several Stonechats, a female and juveniles, were perched on the fence bordering the path. When we arrived at the end of the track, we saw 3 Spoonbills in flight and a flock of Waxbills disappearing in the vegetation.

We came back to Cruzinha on a different track, seeing Serins and Bee-eaters. We had lunch at Cruzinha. The afternoon was free but unfortunately quite rainy

Sunday 8th May - Ludo and departure

No birdwatching was planned for this last day as Neil and Virginia needed to be at the airport early. Now, it was time to say goodbye after another great birdwatching week!

Species Lists

- Common Shelduck
- Gadwall
- Mallard
- Northern Shoveler
- Red-crested Pochard
- Common Pochard
- Ferruginous Duck
- Common Quail
- Red-legged Partridge
- Little Grebe
- Northern Gannet
- Great Cormorant
- European Shag
- Little Bittern
- Cattle Egret
- Little Egret
- Grey Heron
- Purple Heron
- White Stork
- Glossy Ibis
- Eurasian Spoonbill
- Greater Flamingo
- Black-winged Kite
- Black Kite
- Griffon Vulture
- Cinereous Vulture
- Short-toed Snake Eagle
- Western Marsh Harrier
- Montagu’s Harrier
- Eurasian Sparrowhawk
- Common Buzzard
- Booted Eagle
- Spanish Imperial Eagle
- Lesser Kestrel
- Kestrel
- Peregrine Falcon
- Common Moorhen
- Purple Swamphen
- Eurasian Coot
- Little Bustard
- Great Bustard
- Eurasian Stone-curlew
- Black-winged Stilt
- Pied Avocet
- Eurasian Oystercatcher
- Grey Plover
- Little Ringed Plover
- Common Ringed Plover
- Kentish Plover
- Whimbrel
- Black-tailed Godwit
- Sanderling
- Dunlin
- Common Sandpiper
- Common Greenshank
- Common Redshank
- Collared Pratincole
- Little Tern
- Gull-billed Tern
- Little Gull
- Black-headed Gull
- Audouin’s Gull
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Yellow-legged Gull
- Rock Dove
- Common Wood Pigeon
- Eurasian Collared Dove
- European Turtle Dove
- Great Spotted Cuckoo
- Common Cukoo
- Little Owl
- Common Swift
- Pallid Swift
- Alpine Swift
- European Bee-eater
- European Roller
- Hoopoe
- European Green Woodpecker
- Calandra Lark
- Greater Short-toed Lark
- Crested Lark
- Thekla Lark
- Woodlark
- Skylark
- Barn Swallow
- Common House Martin
- Red-rumped Swallow
- Yellow Wagtail
- Grey Wagtail
- White Wagtail
- Winter Wren
- Common Nightingale
- Black Redstart
- Common Redstart
- Whinchat
- European Stonechat
- Black-eared Wheatear
- Blue Rock Thrush
- Common Blackbird
- Cettis’s Warbler
- Zitting Cisticola
- Western Olivaceous Warbler
- Melodious Warbler
- Great Reed Warbler
- Dartford Warbler
- Spectacled Warbler
- Sardinian Warbler
- Western Oprhean Warbler
- Common Whitethroat
- Garden Warbler
- Eurasian Blackcap
- Western Bonelli’s Warbler
- Willow Warbler
- Common/Iberian Chiffchaff
- Spotted Flycatcher
- European Pied Flycatcher
- Eurasian Blue Tit
- European Crested Tit
- Eurasian Nuthatch
- Eurasian Golden Oriole
- Southern Grey Shrike
- Woodchat Shrike
- Eurasian Jay
- Azure-winged Magpie
- Common Magpie
- Red-billed Chough
- Western Jackdaw
- Carrion Crow
- Northern Raven
- Spotless Starling
- House Sparrow
- Spanish Sparrow
- Common Waxbill
- Common Chaffinch
- European Serin
- European Greenfinch
- European Goldfinch
- Common Linnet
- Rock Bunting
- Corn Bunting