|Near Aviero catherdral|
|One of many canals.|
A four day birding and photography trip back to Aviero. I was here in late April and picked up some migrating birds, so thought late October would also be good for migration and I wasn't disappointed. Booked 3 nights in the Hotel Imperial in the town centre. Once a smart hotel, now a little tatty but perfectly acceptable, £68.00 for the 3 nights with breakfast at £4.00 was well within budget. Each evening I wandered to the Restaurante Aquario where a bowl of good soup, main course of meat, rice, chips and veg, 50cl of red wine and a coffee came to 6 Euros. Great value.
The flight, Stansted to Porto, was £76.00, booked several months ago and then train from the airport to the city station and train from Sao Bento station to Aviero cost less than a fiver, so all in all, a cheap break.
I mainly birded the area adjacent to the town where there are miles of saltpans and derelict buildings. This was a mile walk to reach them and then up to 8 miles wandering around. On one day I took the 7a.m. bus to Forte de Barra and then the ferry across to Sao Jacinto. This cost £6.00 return and then I had a walk of a couple of miles to the reserve. In April I only noted a few species of bird and got nothing on an Atlantic sea watch. This time there were birds everywhere and a great sea watch, so well worth the early start and, in total, a 15 mile walk as the reserve is huge.
|Aviero main canal|
Monday 24th October:
Ryanair flight at 9.25 had me in Porto by 12.00 and then a 2 pm train to Aviero meant I was out on the saltpans by 3.30. The light was not great but I was pleased to see plenty of birds as I was a little unsure if they would be there. I headed back to the hotel about 5.30 as the light was fading and already had a list of 23 species, including crag martin seen at the airport, pallid swift over Aviero, flocks of serin and plenty of common sandpipers, black tailed godwits, fan tailed warblers and black redstarts
|Serin, one in a flock of 50+|
|singing male black redstart|
Out for my evening meal and a few beers in a local bar before I finished the day in The Iron Duke pub next to the hotel. Great list of beers and a friendly relaxed atmosphere was just what I wanted as I went through the afternoon's photos, spending time deleting many.
|Looking from the saltpans back to the town|
Tuesday 25th October:
Early start even though it was still dark at 7.30a.m. Off to the saltpans so a stop for a coffee before a wander through the town and onto the Salinas as they are called locally. I took a new route and was immediately into good birds. A flock of 15 great white egrets in with 200+ little egrets, 50+ cormorants and plenty of grey herons. A flock of flamingoes could be seen in the distance whilst plenty of species noted the previous day were keeping me busy. Black redstarts were calling everywhere from the minute I left the hotel. The advantage of the saltpans being right next to the town is that it isn't far to walk back into town for a bite to eat and a drink, before heading off again in another direction. This I did on several occasions during my stay.
|Flamingoes on the saltpans|
2 spoonbills overhead made the trip list as did redshanks, shovelers (a new Portuguese bird for me) a yellow wagtail and waders. These were made up of large flocks of black tailed godwits and ringed plover, but in amongst these were curlew sandpipers, dunlin, little stints, sanderlings and 4 golden plover, another new Portuguese bird.
|Black tailed godwits|
|Distant early morning great white egret|
|Early morning spoonbill fly over|
One of 3 kingfishers shot passed me as I was photographing a wheatear. Two skylarks overhead were new for the trip and by the end of the day the trip list was up to a pleasing 46 species.
A return to the restaurant and the Iron Duke before a relatively early night. Wednesday was looking like being a long day.
Wednesday 26th October:
|Sao Jacinto from the departing ferry|
Up early for a coffee before the 7 o'clock bus to the ferry for the short crossing to Sao Jacinto. Another expresso ("Uma bica" in Portuguese) before I set off for the reserve. The entrance I wanted was a couple of miles further up the road from the official entrance as I wanted to check on a small lake in the middle of the woods. I arrived after a good walk in warm weather and found the hide. Looking out it was clear there were plenty of ducks about, mainly mallard but a few coot, plenty of teal and about 20 wigeon, another new bird for me. Little grebes called and in the reeds both grey heron and little egret but neither little bittern or bluethroat were noted. The latter is a bird that has eluded me wherever I have gone. Not rare in Portugal or Poland but I still await to see one anywhere. The Amwell one last year disappeared overnight so was not present when I turned up the following morning.
|Grey heron as I walked to Sao Jacinto Reserve|
|Boardwalk to the sea watch vantage point|
|Sao Jacinto pool from the hide|
The track through the woods winds its way through conifers and eucalyptus trees, with areas of scrubs clearance. Crested larks were found in the cleared areas, whilst the trees held good numbers of crested tits, long tailed tits, several chiffchaffs and 2 melodious warblers. I spent over half an hour trying for a crested tit photo without any success. I did get great binocular views of this constantly mobile bird, but I carried on, thinking I'd get a photo opportunity later on.
|4 distant common scoter|
|Large raft of common scoter very distant.|
|Continental Speckled Wood|
I came to the board walk that goes straight to a viewpoint for a sea watch. Last April I had just a flyby party of ringed plovers but this time was different. On the sea 1000's of common scoter whilst further out gannets heading south with an occasional sooty shearwater. Not so far out was a sandwich tern being chased by an arctic skua whilst overhead a large flock of serins and several meadow pipits.
Back on the trail in the woods and more crested tits but still no photo. In amongst these busy flocks were goldcrests and a single firecrest as well as coal, great and blue tits. It was difficult keeping track of the crested tits and on one occasion I thought I had a good record shot of one, but it had become a coal tit when I checked the back of the camera. Photography is always difficult in dark, densely packed conifers, so I thought I would just concentrate on watching the birds, so after all, no crested tit shots.
Back to Sao Jacinto ferry where a wait for an hour gave me time to grab something to eat and have a beer as the temperature was now approaching 28C.
Once back in Aviero, I headed back to the saltpans and, whilst not adding anything new to the trip list, spent a few hours seeing good birds. The list now stood at a more pleasing 67 species, more than my April visit.
|Far away flamingoes|
|Fan tailed warbler|
|Yellow legged gull|
Again, a meal and the Iron Duke before I headed off to get a few shots of the town centre, where a Scops owl was heard before returning to the hotel.
Thursday 27th October:
|Black winged stilt, again.|
|2 ringed plover and a little stint|
|2 adult, 4 juvenile greater flamingoes|
|Ring numbers to be forwarded to appropriate ringing group. Suspect ringed as fledglings on the nest this summer.|
Last day and with a flight landing at 8.30pm I wasn't sure when I would get a chance to eat, so enjoyed a good breakfast in the dining room at the hotel. This is on the 6th floor and has great views all over the town and on to the saltpans. From the rooftop terrace, with a telescope you could easily bird the nearer saltpans. I hadn't brought my scope as on the last occasion I used it very rarely and it didn't merit the cost of having to have hold luggage at £30 per flight as I needed to put the tripod in a large rucksack. This time I had a small rucksack for clothes and a camera bag. I just had my Nikon D300 along with a 70mm macro lens and 70 - 400mm zoom. This was all I required.
Once packed, I left the rucksack at reception and was back on to the saltpans. Wasn't expecting any new species, so a pleasant surprise when the first 2 birds observed were new for the trip: kestrel and goldfinch. There seemed to have been a bit of overnight migration as I saw 15 or so chiffchaffs, a willow warbler was also new for the trip, another melodious warbler, with the final new bird being a calling corn bunting on the wires.
A beer in town, the 13.19 train to Porto, a wander to Trindade station for the metro meant I was at the airport in good time to grab some food before arriving home before 9pm.
A super trip with a total of 73 species observed. A good total for what was basically just 2 habitats.
- Little grebe
- Sooty shearwater
- Little egret
- Great white egret
- Grey heron
- Greater flamingo
- Common scoter
- Common buzzard
- Black winged stilt
- Ringed plover
- Golden plover
- Curlew sandpiper
- Little stint
- Common sandpiper
- Black tailed godwit
- Arctic skua
- Black headed gull
- Yellow legged gull
- Sandwich tern
- Wood pigeon
- Collared dove
- Scops owl (heard)
- Pallid swift
- Great spotted woodpecker
- Crested lark
- Crag martin
- Meadow pipit
- White wagtail
- Yellow wagtail
- Black redstart
- Fan tailed warbler
- Cetti's warbler
- Melodious warbler
- Willow warbler
- Great tit
- Coal tit
- Blue tit
- Crested tit
- Long tailed tit
- House sparrow
- Corn Bunting