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Birding in Portugal a paradise

View from hotel port

We were met at the airport by our friend Frank, many years standing opposite him at Birdfair had led to this tour, and we were soon enjoying great birds! Just minutes from the bustle of the airport lay tranquil pools alive with birds. Azure-winged Magpies hopped along the roadside here! A Hoopoe probed away on a grass bank, Sardinian Warblers maching-gun like calls burst from the bushes in warm sunshine under a blue sky.

Purple Swamphen port 1

Huge Purple Swamphens towered over the Moorhens and Coots in the reeds at the waters edge. Wildfowl included Pochard and Gadwall as Great crested Grebes dived for fish. A movement in the reeds gave away the presence of Black-headed Weavers nest building, amazing to see their ball shaped nests weaved from grass and reeds.

At Frank's place the view from the hotel was stunning, see above, and we soaked up the evening sun outside our lovely rooms. A G&T was just the job as the sun went down, then some excellent local wine with the first of many wonderful home cooked meals prepared by Daniela, Frank's wife.

Short toed Eagle port 2

The bird life around the hotel includes both Short-toed Eagles, as above, and Bonelli's Eagles, Sub-alpine, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Crested Tits and we even had Osprey and Alpine Swifts migrating right over the lake.

Plains sunrise port

An early start had us out on the vast rolling plains in time to see the sunrise, breath taking. As we stood and stared, Little Bustards gave their famous "raspberry blowing" calls along with the distinctive "wet-my-lips" song of Quail. As the light came up we were thrilled to see many Great Bustards on the grassland below our vantage point.

Great Bustard male display port

Great Bustard female flight 1

The more we scanned the more we saw, dispalying male Great Bustards looked like foam baths out on the plains, Lesser Kestrels were on rocks and flying above us. Little Bustards were seen and the males are very handsome indeed with their black and white neck scarves.

Little Bustard male 1

Little Bustard male flight 1

Our two days out on the plains were packed with amazing birds! Great spotted Cuckoos, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Calandra Larks were all very high on our wanted list and all were wonderful!

Calandra Lark

Raptors were very well represented, Spanish Imperial Eagles were probably the highlight but both Black and Griffon Vultures were also very impressive. Though some people tried rather harder than others for a close look at the later...

Spanish Imp Eagle port 1

Brian vulture bait

Small wetland areas out on the plains gave us a surprising number of "bonus" species including a pair of Ferruginous Duck which Frank was very surprised to see in this arae. Each day we enjoyed picnic lunches in the field or returned to the hotel for more wonderful food.

Birding team port 1

We also visited the coast for a complete change of habitat and a lot of new birds. A shallow estuary was teaming with waders, gulls, wildfowl and more! An Audouin's Gull was an exciting find here and we watched Sandwich Terns fishing in the shallows as Savi's Warblers sang from the reeds.

Estuary view portugal

Gt Flamingoes Port

Gt Flamingoes 2 Port

The birds just kept coming! More of our Portugal birdwatching adventures to come soon....


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