Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A wee bit of spring!

Managed a wee bit of migrant hunting today before heading offshore again. Not much about but managed to add swallow, chiffchaff and wheatear to the list. It seems I missed the alpine swifts though! News from Aberlady is that he has hit the 90's!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Back to a Frosty Spring

After my week in south Portugal I managed a quick walk around the lanes in my patch today but added no new birds. Spring is well on the way with Skylarks singing everywhere and a pair of Green Woodpeckers displaying near Bradwell. Finally heard from Aberlady, it is 86 species each so far although Aberlady have a few easy birds to see (Great & Coal Tit) so its advantage Lothian so far!

Before heading offshore again I managed to visit Haddiscoe marshes and Fritton wood on the 13th and had a reasonably good day with a good mix of raptors over the marsh including 3 Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine and a Rough-legged Buzzard and in the woods there were a few Goldcrests and a Treecreeper, unfortunately all outside the patch boundaries!

Faro, Portugal 1st - 6th March

1st March
Flew into Faro from Stansted in the late morning and once I found my hotel in the centre of Faro I had a wander around the marina that overlooks parts of the Ria Formosa, a massive estuary. The centre itself had many nesting White Storks and the marina held a few Yellow-legged Gulls and LBB Gulls.

The estuary had quite a few waders about with the highlights being a few Kentish Plovers and a Stone-curlew.

A few migrants were about with Swallows and House Martins everywhere while resident Serins and Sardinian Warblers were singing.

In the afternoon I headed out to the western edge of Faro where a few old saltpans are amongst the salt marsh. Zitting Cisticolas were holding territories, a few Crested Larks were singing, an Osprey hunted and there were lots of common waders. On the non-bird side of things a Swallowtail butterfly was seen.

At the village of Montenegro there were more Z.Cisticolas, 2 Hoopoes, Cattle Egrets and my first Azure-winged Magpies (a flock of 24 on the west side of the village).

2nd March
I decided to catch a bus to Almancil today and walk down to Quinta do Lago from there and then walk back to Faro via Ludo Farm. The road to Quinta was pretty productive with AW Magpies, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Crag Martins, Serin and Booted Eagle all seen before reaching the resort. The resort itself produced my first Bluethroats of the trip and as I reached the lakes a few Crested Tits and Sardinian Warblers appeared. The lakes were quiet bar some common wildfowl and AW Magpies were abundant across the resort and golf courses. An adult Audouins Gull was my first lifer of the day, washing on the northern lake and a Water pipit was feeding along the edge. The salt marshes next to the lakes were full of waders and 7 Spoonbills and a large gull flock that contained 300+ LBBG's, 35 YLG's, 10+ BHG's, 53 adult Aud Gulls, 1x 1st winter Aud Gull, a Med Gull and a Sandwich Tern. Out at sea a few Bonxies passed by.

I reached the famous Purple Gallinule hide and immediately saw 4 PG's showing really well. As well as a good mix of common birds there was also 3 RC Pochards, a very showy male Little Bittern, 31 adult Auds Gulls, Kingfisher and 15+ Waxbills.

As I walked towards the salt pans at Ludo Farm a Firecrest showed well and at the farm hundreds of waders were using the salt pans. Amongst the many Dunlins, Redshanks, Blackwits, Ringed and Kentish Plovers there were also a few Greenshanks, a Spotted Redshank, a few Grey Plovers, 6 Avocets and a Common Sandpiper. Many ZC's and Sard Warbs were about and at least 5 Aud Gulls were in the area. To the east of the farm there was a large Cormorant and Stork roost (10+ White Stork nests in the area) and just beyond these 3 Booted Eagles were seen roosting on the same tree.
Back in Faro, I hired a bike for the next three days to make exploring Ludo and Quinta a lot easier. A Peregrine roosted on top of a tower block on the west side of the town.

3rd March
Thunder and lightning all day and only managed a wee bit of birding around Faro today. HIghlights included a Hoopoe east of Montenegro, 37 Black-winged Stilts, 6 Flamingos and a Blue Rock Thrush amongst the old salt pans in Faro. The centre of Faro is the scene of a large roost in the evening, todays roost included 500+ House Sparrows, 50+ Spotless Starlings, 25+ Swifts and at least 2 Pallid Swifts.

4th March
Woke up to a gorgeous, sunny day and it was soon apparent that a small fall of migrants had happened overnight. Around the old slat pans in Faro there were hundreds of Swallows and House Martins and a couple of Red-rumped Swallows whilst in the scrub there was a few Bluethroats, a Blackcap, a Whitethroat amongst the usuall ZC's, Sardinian Warblers, Cetti's, Crested Larks and Spotless Starlings. 38 BW Stilts were still in the area but the Flamingos had disappeared.

The start of the track to Ludo Farm is scrubby woodland and looks to have a lot of potential. In the morning there were 3 Hoopoes, Siskin and both GS and Green Woodpecker. Ludo Farm saltpans had much the same birds as on the 2nd with 3 Booted Eagles still around and Avocet numbers had increased to 53. A few new passerines were in the area with a Thekla Lark and a couple of Yellow Wagtails (iberiae) the main attractions. I followed a footpath from the farm to the estuary and walked along the salt marshes which had the usual mix of waders, ducks and egrets with only a Little Ringed Plover new for the week. At Quinta do Lago a male Hen Harrier hunted along the marsh and again several Auds Gull roosted.

At the hide a Squacco Heron and male Little Bittern showed briefly and 4 Purple Gallinules were seen. On the golf course 2 Hoopoes fed and another Yellow Wagtail was seen.

Back at the Ludo Farm a female Marsh Harrier hunted, 7 Little Stints had joined the masses and at the eastern side near the woods a Short-toed Eagle hunted. In the woods there was a Short-toed Treecreeper and a female Redstart flitted past. The day ended with a Caspian Tern flying past near Faro marina.

5th March