Friday, 6 May 2022

Few Days in The Algarve.

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.

 However, the bird of the day was a single Audouin's gull that flew directly overhead. Described in the Collins guide as still one of the rarest gulls in the world. Great to get such good views.

Serin

White stork on the nest

Yellow legged gulls

White stork over the Old Town

Goldfinch

Wheatear

Greenfinch

Ringed plover

Black winged stilts

Black winged stilt

Dunlin feeding on The Salinas

Ringed plover, left and Kentish plover right

Distant Woodchat shrike

Same bird

Audouin's gull

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

Ringed plover

Serin

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

House martins

Black winged stilt

Ringed plover

House martins collecting mud for nests 

House martin

Sardinian warbler

Magpie

Yet another Sardinian warbler

Black winged stilt, male

White stork

Crabs

Muddy Dunlin

Red veined darter dragonfly

Sanderling coming into breeding plumage

House sparrow. They were everywhere.

Sanderling

White stork

Hoopoes

Ferry to the beach on the island.

Flyby Avocet

Avocet

Yet another Sardinian warbler

Curlew sandpiper

Kentish plover

Little egret

Well marked Turnstone

Blue legs of an Avocet

Little egret take off.

Spoonbill flyby.

Curlew sandpiper just beginning to show breeding colours.

Little stint in good plumage

Sanderling

Distant overhead Greater flamingoes

Another hoopoe

Distant and socially distancing Spoonbills

Sanderling left and Curlew sandpiper right

Redshank

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

AWM

Heat hazed flight shot

Bird of Paradise flower

Bottle brush plant in full flower

Little terns

Cormorant trying to swallow a large fish whole

Inevitable Black winged stilt (female)

Wood sandpiper

Recently hatched redshank

One of the parents

Born with good set of legs

Red rumped swallow

Whimbrel

White stork coming at me

Still coming my way.

Spoonbill flyby

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

Turnstone

Little tern hovering

Wind swept Little egret

Same bird

Great crested grebe

Greater flamingo

Sardinian warbler for a change

Kentish plover

Red legged partridge

Bee eater commenting upon my photography!

Dunlin

Yellow legged gull

Spoonbill and White stork

Spoonbill.

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

Little stint

Smart plumage. Very rarely see this in the UK

Greater flamingo take off

Overhead Cattle egret

Reflection makes these legs look huge!

Crested lark

Greater flamingo

Little tern in good light

Swimming avocet

Greater flamingo

Distant Spotted redshank. Can just make out the downturn at the end of the bill.

Serin in good voice

Serin in good light

Swallow

European form of Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria

Blackbird

Jay

Distant and fast flying Red rumped swallow

Crested lark

Stonechat male

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

Drake shelduck

Greater flamingo

Common sandpiper

Linnet

Kentish plover

Nesting BWS

Common waxbill

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

Crested lark

Whimbrel

Grey heron

Ringed plover

Dunlin

Swallow

Splendid male Greenfinch


Species list:

  1. Little grebe 1 pair
  2. great crested grebe 2 pairs
  3. Cormorant 1at  QdL
  4. Cattle egret 10+
  5. Little egret 20+
  6. Grey heron 4
  7. White stork loads
  8. Glossy ibis 5 flying distant and high at Fuseta.
  9. Spoonbill loads
  10. Greater flamingoes. In good numbers when seen
  11. Shelduck 20+
  12. Mallard common
  13. Gadwall 2 pairs
  14. Marsh harrier 1 at Fuseta
  15. Red legged partridge 1 near airport
  16. Moorhen 1 on pond near Tavira
  17. Coot 2 at QdL
  18. Avocet loads
  19. Black winged stilts, at every site where there is water.
  20. Little ringed plover. 1 at QdL
  21. Ringed plover loads
  22. Kentish plover loads
  23. Grey plover 3 on beach/saltmarsh QdL
  24. Sanderling loads
  25. Turnstone loads
  26. Dunlin everywhere suitable
  27. Curlew sandpiper 50+
  28. Little stint 8
  29. Wood sandpiper 1 at QdL
  30. Common Sandpiper 4
  31. Redshank 15+
  32. Spotted redshank 1 at Fuseta
  33. Whimbrel 4
  34. Yellow legged gull everywhere
  35. Audouin's gull 3
  36. Little tern everywhere
  37. Rock dove 3
  38. Wood pigeon 50+
  39. Collared dove, everywhere
  40. Swift everywhere
  41. Pallid swift associates with swift and needs to be looked for carefully
  42. Hoopoe 15+
  43. Kingfisher 1 at Fuseta
  44. Bee eater 4. 2 at Tavira and 2 near airport. Expected more.
  45. Roller 1 at Almancil
  46. Green woodpecker or Iberian woodpecker heard near airport
  47. Great spotted woodpecker heard near airport
  48. Crested lark loads
  49. Sand martin 20+
  50. Swallow everywhere
  51. Red rumped swallow 6
  52. House martin everywhere
  53. Yellow wagtail ssp iberiae 1 at Tavira
  54. Wren 2
  55. Robin 1 Faro
  56. Wheatear 1 at Faro Salinas
  57. Stonechat form rubicola 1 at Fuseta
  58. Blackbird loads
  59. Sardinian warbler everywhere
  60. Zitting cisticola everywhere but elusive
  61. Cettis warbler heard
  62. Melodious warbler 1 at Faro
  63. Chiffchaff 2
  64. Pied flycatcher 1 at Fuseta
  65. Great tit near airport
  66. Woodchat shrike 1 at Faro Salinas
  67. Azure winged magpie plenty
  68. Magpie everywhere
  69. Jay 3
  70. Jackdaw in Faro
  71. Carrion crow in Faro
  72. Starling everywhere
  73. Spotless starling (possible but too distant to be sure in a flock of 10)
  74. House sparrow everywhere
  75. Chaffinch near airport
  76. Linnet 4 at Fuseta
  77. Goldfinch everywhere
  78. Greenfinch 10+
  79. Serin everywhere
  80. Common waxbill 1 at Fuseta.
If a trip to the hills had been possible the list would have included many more birds of prey for instance and if I had made the long 3 hour+ journey to the west (Sagres and Cabo da Sao Vincente) another 20 species would have been easily added.

Costs:
Return flight Stansted to Faro: £74.
Accomodation: Room with en suite shower and shared kitchen/bathroom and lounge in central Faro: £88 for the 4 nights.
Travel whilst in Portugal (buses, trains for the 5 days) £20 maximum
Meals: a wonderful steak/veg/pint of beer/half bottle of decent Portuguese red and a glass of Portuguese brandy £23.50
Espresso coffee (Uma bica) 75p
Large beer c£2.75 away from tourist areas.

Adding up, it would probably have cost more to stay 4 nights in a b and b in Norfolk, evening meals out,  £60+ petrol, local bus transport and assorted coffees and snacks.

No comments:

This is me

This is me
At the end of another Norfolk Coastal footpath walk. 47 miles, 3 days 99 species of bird. September 2009

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. In 2016 I spent time at Portland Bird Obs and two trips to Aviero, Portugal. 2017 found me back in Sri Lanka in Feb/March, then July and back for New Year's Eve celebrations in December. Also returned to The Camargue in May for a 4 day trip. Few plans for 2018, but nothing yet booked apart from a trip to the IOW.

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