Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Portugal - Vagrants, Migrants and Specialities

Just back from a fantstic nine days in Southern Portugal. Good news is that our summer migrants are all on their way back!

We stayed in our usual spot near Vilamoura on the Algarve and travelled to various sites by car - Cape St Vincent, Alvor, Ludo, Quinta da Lago, Salgados Marshes and a superb day in Alentejo and clocked up 149 species without really trying. Highlights included twitching the long staying Cream Coloured Courser at Alvor and watching it for a whole two hours completely on my own! Up to 12 Caspian terns present and showing amazingly at a number of locations. 60+ Great Bustards, 5 Little Bustards, Great Spotted Cuckoo, 60+ Black-bellied Sandgrouse, 3 Spanish Imperial Eagles, 20+ Lesser Kestrels, Calandra larks etc in the Alentejo. Plenty of migrants moving through - Bee-Eaters, Wryneck, Osprey, Gull billed Terns, Subalpine Warblers, Iberian Chiff-chaff, Pom and Great Skuas, Iberian Wagtails, while great views of local specialities a short walk from the apartment - Little Bitterns displaying, Purple Herons, Booted Eagles, Gallinules, Glossy ibis and Blue Rock Thrush. Good to do some i.d. work with Thekla / Crested lark, flava wagtail races, Yellow legged Gulls etc too, while iberian races of Green Woodpecker, Black Redstart and yellow wagtails were interesting. Here are a few of of hundreds of pictures taken over the past week:-

Portugal's 7th record of Cream Coloured Courser was at Alvor and been present for a week. It hadn't been seen for a few days but I chanced it and stumbled across it in the dunes early morning. It was a far cry from sharing it with 200+ other birders on a Golf course in herefordshire,having this bird all to myself.

Both forms of Black eared Wheatear showed well in the Alentejo. The 'zorro' masked and 'black throated' types - such as the bird above.

Possibly bird of the trip - at least 12 Caspian Terns found with this bird at Vilomoura catching fish just feet from where I was stood - a monster.

Lots of migrants in. lovely to hear Crested, Thekla, Short-toed (above) and Calandra Larks all in song. Managed sound recordings of all four.

Thousands of White Storks present and back on their nests. The Alentejo was amazing with an occupied nest literally every 50 yards.

Lots of waders present - Spot Shanks, Green Sands, little Stints, Godwits, Little Ringed Plovers and lots of these dapper Kentish Plovers.

Spent a lot of time looking for gulls (another post coming up!)

Bustards were showing very well on the plains of the Alentejo - 60+ birds including displaying males; awsome!

Already planning my next visit there :-)


  1. Off birding/photographing in Portugal in 3 weeks time Marc. Can't wait.
    Sounds like you had a great trip mate.

  2. Have a great time Matt. Drop me a bell if you want any gen about sites etc. Where are you staying mate?

  3. Neis iawn Marc
    Very fond memories of birding a baked Alentejo in August a few years ago