Saturday, 9 April 2011

3 days in The Algarve

A three day trip to Tavira in Portugal, leaving Stansted on the evening of the 5th, returning 8.00pm on the 8th April. After landing at Faro and a night in a local hostel, I made my way by bus and train to Tavira, a 35 minute train journey east from Faro. Accomodation was quickly sorted and I was off on to the local salt pans (Salinas) where the bird numbers were staggering. Black winged stilts were everywhere along with huge numbers of dunlin. Mixed in with these were little stints, grey plovers, occasional redshank and greenshank and curlew sandpipers. Hoopoes (3) and 1 woodchat shrike were superb birds to see along with white stork. Sardinian warblers and zitting cisticolas appeared to populate most shribs whilst crested and thekla larks were on the sandy paths. Kentish plovers ran over the dry salt pans along with sanderlings, ringed plover and yellow wagtails (sub species iberiae). By the time I returned to my digs I had recorded over 45 species, considering the fact I was in one very specialised habitat I was most pleased. This list was extended when I took into consideration a lesser kestrel seen at Faro train station, swifts, house martins, swallows and several red rumped swallows.
The following morning I took the 4 mile walk to the ferry to visit Ilha da Tavira. En route the first flamingoes were recorded, along with a single wood sandpiper and spotted redshank. Both godwit species were seen beofre a short ferry tripo to the island. In the conifer trees, in increasing heat (30C+) were so many birds. Serins and goldfinches were everywhere as well as house sparrows, magpies and collared doves. After several glimpses of willow warbler, chiffchaff, whitethroat and bonellis warbler I entered an arid area. Here a eurasian wheatear and another woodchat shrike were observed and photographed. However, the highlight was flushing 3 stone curlews, one of which flew off near enough to get a record shot. The heat haze was making long distance photography very tricky, and at times virtually impossible. A short sea watch produced nothing but lesser balck backed and yellow legged guls, plus 3 little terns and 1 common tern. The heat eventually drove me to the shade of the conifers where I concentrated on improving my shots of woodchat shrike and serin. The last day dawned and I was out early to try and beat the haze. A distant spoonbill was witnessed along with 4 little egrets. It was clear that there had been a large fall of birds as there were now 100's of avocets and even more black winged stilts. 2 whimbrels moved off noisily from one salt pan and a red rumped swallow shot past me, too fast for a photo. Bee eaters called from all directions but were very jumpy and consequently hard to get near for a photo. A train and bus trip eventually deposited me at Faro airport for my 17.10 flight home. A superb trip and one that I wish to repeat at another time of the year.

photos, from top:
  • bee eater
  • bee eater
  • beach at Ilha da Tavira
  • black winged stilt and redshank
  • woodchat shrike
  • aerial view Tavira
  • dunlin in 2 plumages
  • woodchat shrike
  • turnstone
  • Tavira at night
  • stone curlew
  • spoonbill (distant!)
  • serin
  • sardinian warbler
  • sanderling
  • painted lady
  • little stint
  • kentish plover
  • kentish plover
  • grey plover and dunlin
  • grey heron
  • crested lark
  • black winged stilt in flight
  • black winged stilt, sanderling and turnstone
  • curlew sandpipers and dunlin
  • clouded yellow
  • cormorant
  • dunlin
  • black tailed godwit and dunlin
  • black winged stilt
  • yellow wagtail
  • white stork
  • white stork





























Sunday, 3 April 2011

More spring firsts: 03.04.11

With the warm temperatures, more expected migrants have appeared within the parish boundary. The 1st orange tip butterfly was recorded whilst doing a private gardening job yesterday and a singing blackcap was heard at my allotment this morning.
An evening at the Nag's Head pub gave views of 2 new moths for me: a hebrew character (very common) and a common quaker (also found everywhere) along with a good example of The engrailed moth, previously recorded last summer.
Photos here in order as described


This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird

Caley Wood view

Caley Wood view
sunshine through the canopy 29.05.08

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007

A walk along the Warta Valley, Poznan, Poland. Feb 2007
Best birds on this walk: black and middle spotted woodpecker and short toed treecreeper

About Me

My photo
A primary school teacher for 30 years, I retired from teaching in July 2009 to set up my own science enhancement and communication company. The Primary Works offers science clubs, workshops and staged science shows nationwide. I have always been interested in bird watching since my early years. Apparently my first tick was after inquiring about a chaffinch and then receiving the Observer book of birds. By the age of 9 I had moved on to Tory Peterson's collins guide and was now involved on YOC birding holidays to Northumbria, Essex coast, Slimbridge and Yorkshire. My twitching rule is that I will willingly travel 1km for each gram the bird weighs. However, I have had many rarities just by being in the right place. I have travelled widely throughout Europe and also visited Australia and Sri Lanka. Further European destinations are planned and a bigger trip to The Crimea was planned for 2014 but now not possible. so 2014: Sri Lanka in January, Poland in April, Madeira in June and The Camargue in July. So far 2015 has been Sri Lanka in Jan, Poland in Feb, Sri Lanka in April and The Camargue coming up in 1st week of September.

Grey heron

Grey heron
Over the allotment 28.09.08

Southern Hawker

Southern Hawker
Ridge footpath 27.08.08

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)

Juvenile green woodpecker (17.08.08)
Note the stripes, denoting a bird fledged this year.

common blue

common blue
Ash Valley G.C. 15.08.08

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)

Indian balsam (impatiens glandulifera)
River Ash

azure damselfly

azure damselfly
River Ash 28.07.08

marbled white

marbled white
Discovered at Westland Green 22.07.08

ruddy darter

ruddy darter
Bush Wood 21.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08

honeysuckle 19.07.08
growing in hedgerow in Chapel Lane

cinnabar moth caterpillar

cinnabar moth caterpillar
Photographed on ragwort 19.07.08

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Study of petals 11.06.08

male yellowhammer

male yellowhammer
08.06.08

common blue butterfly

common blue butterfly
06.06.08

River Ash

River Ash
looking south from the bridge at Hadham Ford

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)

Common poppy (papaver rhoeas)
in rape field 29.05.08

Caley Wood sunshine

Caley Wood sunshine
29.05.08

Millenium Wood fox

Millenium Wood fox
24.05.08

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)

common comfrey (symphytum officinale)
06.05.08 banks of the River Ash

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)

Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge,(Alliara petiolata)
flowers, leaves and fruit edible . Good in salad and pesto

April showers

April showers
Double rainbow 30.04.08

Caley Wood bluebells

Caley Wood bluebells
22.04.08

Yellow Archangel

Yellow Archangel
Chapel Lane (20.04.08)

sunlight 16.04.08

sunlight 16.04.08
looking south west from Bush Wood

snowy buds

snowy buds
06.04.08 in Bush Wood

Looking north west

Looking north west
05.04.08 evening shower approaching

Back Garden

Back Garden
Easter Sunday (23.03.08)

Brick Kiln Hill

Brick Kiln Hill
Looking east (23.03.08)

No play today

No play today
The 2nd hole at Ash Valley golf course

Teasel head

Teasel head
Bush Wood (21.03.08)

Reflections

Reflections
daffodils at Bush Wood pond (21.03.08)

Swollen River Ash

Swollen River Ash
The river at the bottom of Winding Hill 16.03.08

Daybreak over the chapel

Daybreak over the chapel
Thursday 13th March

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)

Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus)
growing in Bush Wood

January snowdrops

January snowdrops
Banks of River Ash, north of Much Hadham

Good Moon

Good Moon
From garden 24.01.08

Village Green

Village Green
Looking east towards Acremore Street

Looking south before Hadham Ford

Looking south before Hadham Ford
rare January blue sky

Useful sites

The following are some useful websites that may interest readers of this blog.
Firstly, Bishop's Stortford Natural History Society http://bsnhs.webplus.net/

Fellow birder, Gary Whelan's blog. Gives reports from our trips out together plus reports from his trips abroad. http://hairybirders.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.hertsbirdclub.org.uk/ The official herts bird club website. Frequently updated, listing bird sightings around the county. Offers links to many other websites. Both of these sites also offer links to yahoo discussion groups.
http://www.birdforum.net/ An international site. You can enter as a guest but become a member( free) to post comments, bird sightings and just about anything to do with wild birds. Good news updates, classified section for binoculars, cameras etc.
http://www.guidedbirdwatching.com/ A new site set up where you can contact people worldwide who will help you find good birds in their country. UK section being set up presently.
http://www.britainsbirder.co.uk/
Fellow birders blog. Strtford resident, Graeme Smith regulary birds the area south of Stortford as well as around Spellbrook and the River Stort from Spellbrook to Twyford Locks. Some superb bird photography: Graeme uses a digital camera attached to his powerful telescope to get detailled images of the birds he sees. Well worth a browse.
Two local sites that may be of interest can be found at
http://www.thehadhams.com/ www.thepelhams.net/content/section/12/139/

South Easterly walk

South Easterly walk
black, normal, red extended walk

South Westerly route.

South Westerly route.
Black usual, red extended

North Easterly walk

North Easterly walk
black short, walk. Red, extended

North West Patch

North West Patch
black route regular. Red route the extended wander