Monday, January 04, 2010

27th Dec 2009: Monchique and Ria De Alvor, the Algarve, Portugal

Our last full day in Portugal, so a group of us set off to reach the highest point in the range of hills which runs along the north edge of the Algarve. This proved to be a mistake, as they were shrouded in thick cloud all day!

We did come across three White Storks hanging around a sizable nest some way from the road.

And a small flock of Crested Tits investigating a Cork Oak stump near a layby.

Seeing that the weather was much better at the coast, we decided to revisit the Alvor Estuary, our favourite spot in our brief tour.

Though the weather was better than our first visit, the tide was out, which meant fewer birds on the saltmarsh.

The Greater Flamingo flock had increased from 17 to 26. We met long-time Algarve birder Colin Key, who told us that these birds come from Coto Donana in Spain, the Camargue in France, and even from as far away as Iran. Somtimes the wintering flock gets up to 400 birds!

Two young birds having a tussle.

We spotted one colour-ringed bird. Perhaps someone reading this might know where it's from...?

Colin pointed out to us a distant Black-shouldered Kite - a major rarity in Western Europe. I mentioned that I was from Malaysia where they are pretty much the commonest raptor, and that actually I was far more interested in species like Common Ringed Plovers and Northern Lapwings. He must have thought there's no pleasing some people! You can see some much better pix of all the birds I photographed in the Algarve on his blog, Algarve Birder, and his pbase photo galleries. Thanks for all your help Colin! On our way back along the sea wall, I was surprised to flush a pair of Common Quail. They flew over into the saltmarsh and landed out of sight before I could record the moment with the camera however.

Ah, now here's a real cracking good bird - Northern Lapwing - to finish off with!


Colin said...

Thanks for the mention Dave - it was very nice to meet you and a pity we could not have spent more time chatting.

Your blog is excellent - I have looked at all the posts on your recent Algarve trip and think that you have some "cracking" images there (I am very envious of the Crested Tit shots; I have spent many hours in the cork oaks of the Monchique area and never managed to get close enough).

If you thought the weather wasn't too good when you were here you should be here now - horrendous!! My house has been flooded almost daily and today we had gale-force winds gusting up to 125 km per hour.

The water in the Ria is now brick-red in colour and almost opaque; a sad sight this afternoon was our over-wintering Osprey trying unsuccessfully to catch fish because he can't see them - he looked exhausted.

Best wishes,


Wai Yien said...

Nice post and great shots on the beautiful Crested Tits and Northern Lapwing

digdeep said...

Thanks Yen and Colin,

Sorry to hear about the sad weather - looks like we left just in time! Hoping for some warmer, brighter posts soon!



Georg said...


wonderful photos of the Crested Tit. Sorry for you about the bad weather we have here at the moment... Regards, Georg

JRandSue said...

Fantastic Images,love the Cresties.