|Hovering Little tern. Almost too close to me|
Day 1: 01.05.22 To Faro and birdwatching on The Salinas near town.
Up early for a flight from Stansted to Faro. Take off 8.50am and was in my room in Faro Old town 2.30pm. Dumped my rucksack, sorted out camera and binoculars and headed to the saltpans just half a mile away. First bird seen was a stick carrying White stork over the city. Arrived at the 1st salt pan (Salinas, in Portuguese,) and was faced with the sight of 100's of waders. Mainly Dunlin but several redshank, Ringed plover and Kentish plover. The trip list was up and running as I wandered over the many tracks in this huge area of the Rio Formosa.
A distant Woodchat shrike, many Yellow legged gulls and singing Serins. I checked a sandy area at a building site: House martins gathering mud for nest building and a solitary Wheatear near 2 Crested larks.
|White stork on the nest|
|Yellow legged gulls|
|White stork over the Old Town|
|Black winged stilts|
|Black winged stilt|
|Dunlin feeding on The Salinas|
|Ringed plover, left and Kentish plover right|
|Distant Woodchat shrike|
|Dark legs, dark eye and bright red bill|
|Same Audouin's gull|
|Black winged stilts were everywhere|
|One of 100's of dunlin coming into breeding plumage|
|Waders. All Dunlin apart from one Kentish plover and one Ringed plover|
|Dunlin coming into land|
|Off to add to the already huge nest|
A good start as I headed back to my room before wandering into town for a few beers and a meal. Overhead, Common and Pallid swifts and plenty of White storks nesting on local buildings. As I sat eating my meal the sound of storks bill rattling their courtship ritual could be heard from near and far.
Day 2: 02.05.22. To Tavira, East of Faro.
Up early for the 7.11 train east to Tavira, some 30 minutes away. Grabbed an espresso at the station as set up camera lens and then wandered down to the river and out on to the Salinas. A place I have visited twice before and great bird watching habitat. Again, huge area to cover.
Black winged stilts everywhere as well as plovers, sandpipers and dunlin. Turnstone made the list whilst I listened to the distinctive call of Bee eaters in the distance. A hoopoe flew into some trees and was gone. Sardinian warblers called their scratchy song from deep in the vegetation but occasionally a male would sit right at the top and offered a photo opportunity.
I continued around the salt pans. Serins sang from near the Indoor market where I had bought water and some cooked meats and bread. Spoonbills flew over the road as I headed out to Quatro Aguas to get the ferry across to the Ilha da Tavira where there are tree covered sand dunes and a superb beach.
Once off the ferry, time for a beer as the temps hit 24C before I took the sandy paths in to the trees. Serins, Sardinian warblers, Blackbirds and Hoopoes were all in fine voice. A pair of Hoopoes sat in a distant tree. I continued out into the sand dunes where I have had good birds previously such as Wheatear and Stone curlew, but not today. The ground plants here are yellow and purple flowering Hottentot figs.
Back at the ferry point a group of turnstones, some in full breeding plumage. I walked the mile back into town and met friends, Dodgy Dave Holland and his lovely wife Hilary who now live in Tavira. I used to play golf against Dave. He is still sore that I won the Ash Valley Open in 2011! Great to see them again, must be 8 years since I was last in Tavira.
Train back to Faro and out for a meal before a glass of wine in a splendid Wine Bar, Epicur, right opposite my room before bed in preparation for a long walk and early start the next day.
|Record shot comparing Common swift (left) and Pallid swift (right) Latter is paler.|
|Young Yellow legged gulls on the river in Tavira|
|Black winged stilt|
|House martins collecting mud for nests|
|Yet another Sardinian warbler|
|Black winged stilt, male|
|Red veined darter dragonfly|
|Sanderling coming into breeding plumage|
|House sparrow. They were everywhere.|
|Ferry to the beach on the island.|
|Yet another Sardinian warbler|
|Well marked Turnstone|
|Blue legs of an Avocet|
|Little egret take off.|
|Curlew sandpiper just beginning to show breeding colours.|
|Little stint in good plumage|
|Distant overhead Greater flamingoes|
|Distant and socially distancing Spoonbills|
|Sanderling left and Curlew sandpiper right|
|Yellow legged gull|
Day 3: 03.05.22: Almancil, Quinta da Lago and Faro airport
Up early again for the 7.20 train to Almancil, some 15 minutes west of Faro. Today was going to be the longest walk of the trip and it coincided with being the hottest day so far, touching 27C but a cooling breeze that successfully incinerated my arms and legs.
Off the train and south through the town centre before picking up a country lane all the way to Quinta da Lago. Not too many birds along the lane but a brief view of an in flight Roller was pleasing as was seeing Little ringed plover at some water cress beds. As I approached the town I began hearing and then seeing Azure Winged magpies. Where these occur they are usually found in good numbers. I was to see plenty as I walked though a very posh area of QdL. Huge houses, immaculate lawns where hoopoes called from huge trees.
I arrived at The Shack by the footpath and boardwalk that takes the wanderer 6 or 7 km back to the airport for a bus back into town.
Beer and espresso fuelled me for this wander, a new area for me.
Little terns, a solitary Wood sandpiper, Black winged stilts and a pair of Gadwall were on the pool by the restaurant. A good start. I got on to the boardwalk and headed back east. By now, heat haze was an issue and many potentially good photos were no good due to the camera magnifying the shimmering light, making sharp focus impossible.
Whimbrel, Grey plover, Red rumped swallow, Great crested grebe and Little grebe got on to the trip list as I stopped frequently. Most of the folk here are ex pats so chatted with several. One lady who was on holiday asked if I could give her Social Group based in Surrey, a bird talk on the area. A few other birders were about and as I left the boardwalk for the last 4km to the airport I was all alone. Through woodland. A red legged partridge, whilst both Great spotted and Iberian Green woodpecker were heard.
Bee eaters called from the other side of a thick hedge. I could just see them on a wire but virtually impossible to get a photo, apart from one shown here. Not the most flattering!
I arrived at Montenegro and headed down hill. Beer at the airport, bus back to Faro and then a quick trip to the local Salinas before a much needed shower and out for another meal and half a bottle of Esteva, a red wine from The Douro.
A wonderful day and, in total, 15 miles walked.
|Little ringed plover|
|First of many Azure winged magpies|
|First Sardinian warbler of the day|
|Azure winged magpie showing pale yellow chin|
|Typical habitat and behaviour of these birds|
|Heat hazed flight shot|
|Bird of Paradise flower|
|Bottle brush plant in full flower|
|Cormorant trying to swallow a large fish whole|
|Inevitable Black winged stilt (female)|
|Recently hatched redshank|
|One of the parents|
|Born with good set of legs|
|Red rumped swallow|
|White stork coming at me|
|Still coming my way.|
|Distant and heat hazed Audouin's gull|
|Little egret and Spoonbill|
|Hoopoe on the golf course next to the boardwalk|
|Little egret and very distant summer plumaged Grey plover|
|A closer grey plover|
|Little tern hovering|
|Wind swept Little egret|
|Great crested grebe|
|Sardinian warbler for a change|
|Red legged partridge|
|Bee eater commenting upon my photography!|
|Yellow legged gull|
|Spoonbill and White stork|
Day 4: 04.05.22 Fuseta Walk.
Today, the plan was to have a change of habitat and get the coach up into the hills north of Faro but it failed to turn up, so back on to the train. This time east to Fuseta, another new area of the Ria Formosa for me. Pleased i did travel here. Had a great time and lovely walk, if somewhat shorter than the previous one.
Off the train, obligatory espresso and checked the marshland on the side of the road. Regular waders so off along a country road that took me to a wide track that meanders around Salinas before arriving at a village after a few miles.
New birds for the trip included Pied flycatcher, Stonechat, Cattle egret and Spotted redshank.
Flamingoes a plenty as there were avocets and Black winged stilts. In one pool, a single spot shank whilst overhead, a few Cattle egrets. I checked all along telegraph wires and managed a pair of linnets and the Pied flycatcher. The sun was directly in front of it so not photo and it had gone by the time I had turned the corner for a better view.
Today topped 27C and no breeze. Hot. In the village a splendid little bar so a beer and chat with a holidaying Irish couple. Then headed down to the beach but just more Mallards and Azure Winged magpies. A Blackbird was in fine voice before I retraced my steps and tried to improve on a few photos of new species, but again, heat haze messed them up.
I got back to the main road to catch a glimpse of a Yellow wagtail, sub species iberiae, showing a grey head with a prominent darker grey cheek and white supercilium. Nearby, another fleeting glimpse of a Common waxbill. This is an escaped cage bird that now populates The Algarve. Usually found in sparrow like flocks, often in dense vegetation near to water, as was the case here. A record shot and it was gone. Didn't see another.
I had an hour to wait for the train so wandered along to the next village, refreshing beer and some snacks and then continued to the next station.
Back into Faro and a walk back to my room for a rest before out for a meal and a quick trip into the wine bar, my last night.
|Distinctive red eye ring of Sardinian warbler|
|Black winged stilt|
|Smart plumage. Very rarely see this in the UK|
|Greater flamingo take off|
|Overhead Cattle egret|
|Reflection makes these legs look huge!|
|Little tern in good light|
|Distant Spotted redshank. Can just make out the downturn at the end of the bill.|
|Serin in good voice|
|Serin in good light|
|European form of Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria|
|Distant and fast flying Red rumped swallow|
|The half white collar and orange underparts point to this being form rubicola|
|Record shot of Zitting cisticola. Dreadful name, used to be Fan tailed warbler|
|One of many nests of House martin in Fuseta|
Day 5 05.05.22: Faro Salinas and home.
Up, packed and left my rucksack in the office of the place where I roomed and off for a few hours to wander the areas of the Salinas I had not previously explored. Nothing new added to the trip list but did note that the numbers of waders had decreased considerably as they presumably set off to breeding grounds. A grey heron patrolled one salt pan before I wandered a mile along the road towards Olhao, hoping for better views of the Woodchat shrike, but I didn't find it again.
Back to pick up my baggage, bus to airport and home by 9pm. Only blot on the 5 days was the chaotic mess that is Stansted airport passport control. Clearly not fit for purpose and in future I shall fork out the extra £7 to get through along Fast Track. Took an hour to get through passport from joining the queue.
Big thank you to Rick Stead. As I headed back into town I tried for a few final shots of yet another very close Sardinian warbler when my camera packed up, stating error and that I needed to format the card. A few texts to him and instant replies saved the day as I discovered I had 2 memory cards in the camera. Some photos were saved on one card but fortunately, all were on the CF card. Took some time to download them all, needing two laptops as mine doesn't have a card reader port. For a few minutes I thought I had lost all of the 800+ photos I had taken, now whittled down to around 150.
|White stork in Faro|
|Yellow legged gull|
|Splendid male Greenfinch|
- Little grebe 1 pair
- great crested grebe 2 pairs
- Cormorant 1at QdL
- Cattle egret 10+
- Little egret 20+
- Grey heron 4
- White stork loads
- Glossy ibis 5 flying distant and high at Fuseta.
- Spoonbill loads
- Greater flamingoes. In good numbers when seen
- Shelduck 20+
- Mallard common
- Gadwall 2 pairs
- Marsh harrier 1 at Fuseta
- Red legged partridge 1 near airport
- Moorhen 1 on pond near Tavira
- Coot 2 at QdL
- Avocet loads
- Black winged stilts, at every site where there is water.
- Little ringed plover. 1 at QdL
- Ringed plover loads
- Kentish plover loads
- Grey plover 3 on beach/saltmarsh QdL
- Sanderling loads
- Turnstone loads
- Dunlin everywhere suitable
- Curlew sandpiper 50+
- Little stint 8
- Wood sandpiper 1 at QdL
- Common Sandpiper 4
- Redshank 15+
- Spotted redshank 1 at Fuseta
- Whimbrel 4
- Yellow legged gull everywhere
- Audouin's gull 3
- Little tern everywhere
- Rock dove 3
- Wood pigeon 50+
- Collared dove, everywhere
- Swift everywhere
- Pallid swift associates with swift and needs to be looked for carefully
- Hoopoe 15+
- Kingfisher 1 at Fuseta
- Bee eater 4. 2 at Tavira and 2 near airport. Expected more.
- Roller 1 at Almancil
- Green woodpecker or Iberian woodpecker heard near airport
- Great spotted woodpecker heard near airport
- Crested lark loads
- Sand martin 20+
- Swallow everywhere
- Red rumped swallow 6
- House martin everywhere
- Yellow wagtail ssp iberiae 1 at Tavira
- Wren 2
- Robin 1 Faro
- Wheatear 1 at Faro Salinas
- Stonechat form rubicola 1 at Fuseta
- Blackbird loads
- Sardinian warbler everywhere
- Zitting cisticola everywhere but elusive
- Cettis warbler heard
- Melodious warbler 1 at Faro
- Chiffchaff 2
- Pied flycatcher 1 at Fuseta
- Great tit near airport
- Woodchat shrike 1 at Faro Salinas
- Azure winged magpie plenty
- Magpie everywhere
- Jay 3
- Jackdaw in Faro
- Carrion crow in Faro
- Starling everywhere
- Spotless starling (possible but too distant to be sure in a flock of 10)
- House sparrow everywhere
- Chaffinch near airport
- Linnet 4 at Fuseta
- Goldfinch everywhere
- Greenfinch 10+
- Serin everywhere
- Common waxbill 1 at Fuseta.