Now I picked it for the great location next to the Tavira Saltpans. Id asked for a room over looking over the saltpans but I was disappointed to hear they didn't overlook them, they would try get me one looking towards the sea which we did to a point, could just see a small portion of the sea. That would do. Hotels only a 2 star so not great but it grew on us. Breakfast was just the worse. the plus was it was comfortable clean and a great location with good local bars.
That first afternoon was spent on the balcony birding, my only Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Sandwich Terns, Whimbrel and plenty of Common Waxbill and Spotless Starling. A great location for both the latter. I could just about do some sea watching where I was able to pick up Cory's Shearwater and Gannets.
Had a quick walk to see the Saltpans where we watched from the edge. Caspian Tern and the Flamingos were the highlights. This spot was looking cracking.
Didn't use the car, took the opportunity the walk the Tavira Saltpans properly. 300 Flamingos were superb and so close too. Waders Galore including Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin. Plenty of Crested Lark everywhere.
Osprey was fishing the river, and I've never seen so many Slender Billed Gulls with 15 in one group, although I spotted 2 together originally and was mega excited.
My first Audoins Gull too but only a 2nd winter. Crabs carpetered the mudflats. Spoonbills mixed with the Flamingos but were a little more shy. Med Gulls everywhere was a little bit of a surprise.
The Vegetated areas were full of Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Pied Flycatchers as were the Hotel grounds. On the way back to the hotel 30+ Bee Eaters passed over and the Common Waxbills were everywhere. Red Rumped Swallows were the commonest Hirundine. Had a distant hovering BOP, it was being mobbed by a flock of Spotless Starlings and which I'm fairly sure was a Black Winged Kite. The whole day was spent around the hotel area and it was superb. The Saltpans are actually open to the public and you can wander at will.
Took a drive to Castro Verde today picking the scenic N2 road through the woodland mountains. It was a little disappointing as every stop we made seemed to be birdless. The few birds we did see were still good though. Lots of Azure Winged Magpies, Crested tits and Short toed Tree Creeper. More Crested Larks. Common Buzzard was the only Raptor anywhere, this was the most disappointing part of the whole trip really, so few Raptors.
We Arrived at Castro Verde where we had a look around looking for Bustards and birds of the plains. We couldn't locate much other than Calandra lark and Tawny Pipit. So we visited the Bustard centre Environmental Education Centre of Vale Goncalinho but it was flaming closed at 1pm. Pathetic really so we didn't get to do the walk. The car park held a Subalpine Warbler, a few Pied Flycatchers a Whinchat and a few Corn Buntings. Didn't really make up for the lack of Great Bustards or Sandgrouse. We did have a drive around again but Southern Grey shrike was the only other notable birds.
Tourist day today although i always have a short walk around the hotel daily after breakfast. Quick boat trip over to the local sunbathing beach and back. Spoonbills over, Flamingos, Southern Grey Shrike, Yellow Wagtails a plenty and the usual Waxbills and Starlings again.
Anyway We visited the superb Tavira Town and castle, much more up Rachels street. Osprey fishing the river gave me my bird fill. Beautiful area and well worth a visit. Took a very bumpy road train around the town, lovely, Didn't stop me doing some birding at another part of the Saltpans however. 60+ Spoonbills, loads of waders including Curlew Sandpipers and Spotted Redshanks. Another Caspian Tern and plenty more Slender Billed Gulls.Adult Audoins Gull again and 2 nesting White Storks still. House Gecko back at the hotel was common.
Another day for Rachel visiting Castro Marim and Mertola Castle We did start of at the Marim Saltpans, interesting environmental visitor centre and worth a look telling the history of the saltpans and area. Birds were nothing different but again the views of the area were nice. Great White Egret was the only new bird for the trip.
After visiting the town we headed up to Mertola Castle, spotting a couple of White Storks on the way. The Castle area was again great for views and we actually managed a few new bird species such as Crag Martin and Blue Rock Thrush, Hoopoe and a Cracking Red Deer Stag. The castle was gruesome lol
We returned back to the hotel fairly late and it was interesting to see 50+ Cattle egret staring to roost on the fancy structures on the centre of one of the busy roundabouts on the edge of Tariva.
Headed up earlier to Castle Verde again and a visit to the Environmental Education Centre of Vale Goncalinho as I really wanted some Steppe specialities. This time the reserve was open but speaking to one of the members of staff onsite it was unlikely we were going to see a Great Bustard, we were able to walk the trails still which is what we did anyway. It was a nice circular giving good views of Tawny Pipit, Crested Larks, Hoopoes, Corn Bunting, Pied Flys and in a well a new spider for me the argiope lobata.
We continued to Scan the area for Bustards and amazingly after what the staff said we picked up a Great Bustard in the distance on the top of the hill, Bingo, just shows never give up. We continued along the trail when a male Hen Harrier made a quick flypast and as we were just about to return to the centre 30+ Black Bellied Sandgrouse took off and did a few circuits of the field and landed out of site. Really poor shots but you can see what they are.
We returned to the car and took a couple of side roads just to see if we could find anymore bustards. No more but we did get good scope views of 2 Black winged Kites, another male Hen Harrier and plenty more Tawny Pipits and another Calandra lark. A large warbler looked like a Melodious Warbler, Serin in the more wooded areas and a few Ravens flew over, Wheatears were everywhere. Well worth the visit today.
We returned via Albufeira and the beach/harbour area..... Awful just Awful lol.
Took a walk around the hotel are again, another visit to Tariva Town, and a walk around the hotel saltpans so didn't go very far as it was our last full day.
Morning around the hotel and saltpans just to kill time before heading back to the Airport and home.
Its been a brilliant trip and one I must do again. 112 Species give or take a few i may have forgot.