Sunday, 10 October 2021

Portugal Trip report 23rd to 30th September 2021

23rd September 

Please click on the pics for full size images.

Well I'm not gonna let a little thing such as Covid beat me from going along with my normal business, its just a little inconvenience to deal with now, tests and masks. I'm double jabbed and I purchased my Antigen tests to fly out and fly back. Also my 2 day PCR test for my return. So that's all done, Rach and I arrived at the airport with our fit to fly test, our passenger locator form and masks. Dropped our bags off showed all our paperwork, got through security and then into Weatherspoon's for the first beer and lunch.

Jumped on the Ryan Air plane masks n all and arrived in Portugal about 7pm, there's no time difference so didn't loose anytime, picked up our hire car from Zest car hire (Broker) Travel rent car company outside the departure terminal. the cheapest i could find and highly recommended,  then onto Cabanas Golden Club hotel in Cabanas. We used the same Hotel as last year as it was a lovely area with the Saltpans next to the resort. Nipped into Cabanas for a late dinner and checked into the hotel. 

So no birding done today although i did notice Sparrow hawk, Kestrel and Spotless Starling at the airport.

24th September

Weather about 23 degrees and just nice so started by birding from the balcony. Spoonbills, Flamingos and Spotless Starlings, Red rumped swallows everywhere, Hoopoe regular as were Cattle Egret. Walked to the Saltpans where we had much better views of the Flamingos and plenty of waders. Stone Curlews the highlights and amazingly found a cracking Bluethroat.  All too brief as it disappeared into the deep undergrowth. Osprey with a fish was our only one for the trip. Gulls were plentiful, Slender billed, Audouins, and Yellow Legged. Spoonbills in there hundreds close to 200 and Crested Larks were great. A Tree Pipit flew over calling.

Drove into Tavira for lunch and sat by the river watching Crag Martins and Common Sandpipers.

Over on the other side of the Saltpans, Caspian Terns were showing well as were plenty of Kentish Plover. Back to Cabanas for dinner and drinks. 

Happy Birthday to me and best birthday ever.....

25th September

Visited Faro for the day so no birding done at all other than early morning from the balcony again. Booted Eagle Common Waxbills and Great White Egret to add to the list. 

Birded  from the balcony in the evening too where 166 Med Gulls flew to roost. Cant be birding everyday, Rach wouldn't allow it.

Faro one of those places i can say ive done but wont bother visiting again.

26th September 

Drove over to Albufeira new town where we had booked a boat trip to see Dolphins and visit all the fancy caves in the area. My main reason for going was clearly the sea birds. Dolphins were plentiful but the birds unfortunately weren't, a Cory's was brilliant but the only sea bird seen, a Shag on the rocks, and lots of Rock Doves was it, a little disappointing. The Caves were stunning though.

We visited the old town for more sightseeing and had a lovely day. Ready for some more birding now so took a minor road past Tavira up the mountains. Iberian Grey Shrike, Cirl Buntings, Tree Pipit over, Serin singing a Booted Eagle and plenty of Willow Warblers. Pied Flycatcher's in the woodland areas as were Iberian Green Woodpeckers and Woodlarks

27th September

A day in Spain and one of my Favourite places in the world to date El Rocio... In my eyes a Cowboy town i stayed in a few years ago when birding Donana NP. Unfortunately this time of year the pools were dry except for one small are in the far distance. The first bird i noticed however was a Peregrine putting everything up, mainly Black headed gulls and hirundines. Over a hundred Yellow wagtails of a few races including some possible eastern types with very grey backs. Distantly in the pools Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills and Black Winged Stilts. Spotless Starlings were everywhere on the cowboy buildings. Double figure Griffon Vultures and a possible Spanish Imperial Eagle but the heat haze today made viewing the distant birds tricky.

What a wonderful town. After we had a walk around and some food, which is very difficult to order as this is a town of no English speaking residents we moved onto the nature reserve across the road which again was devoid of water but had to do it as it brought back some great memories. The highlights were Tree Sparrow, Short-toed Tree Creepers and Common Waxbills. Geckos and Lizards......

28th September

Today i was looking forward to visiting the Bustard reserve Vale Goncalinho Environmental Center. Last year we found just the one high in the distance but this year was very disappointing here as it seemed we were limited to a very small part of the reserve, all the gates were closed. I wasn't coming this far to not d the walk we did last year so thought stuff it and went through. 6 Black Bellied Sandgrouse distantly but really crap views, a Ring tailed Hen harrier was nice but not unexpected, loads of Wheatear, Ravens, Jackdaws Corn Buntings and a couple of Tawny Pipit. No damn Bustards though.

We had our picnic on site and then drove up the road to Jardim de Entradas where i found a nice track through the countryside last year and hoped we would see some good stuff again. We drove past a damn which was very good, 15 Glossy Ibis a few Black Winged Stilt and a Spotted Redshank. Further up the road i stopped to watch a cracking Black Shouldered Kite although again distant in the haze then booooooom 11 Great Bustards wandering the fields. Bingo!!! 

I was a very happy bunny so it didn't really matter that we didn't see much else after this, oh there was the matter of 30 Griffon Vultures sat in a field. 

September 27th 

Last Full day in Portugal and we have done our planned trips, we always need a day of doing nothing or everything, depending on how we feel. It was 31 degrees so although we did go out for an early walk into Cabanas it was too hot for anything physical so turned into a day of nothing. Although when it cooled down a little we did have dinner and an evening walk in Tavira again. No birding done.

September 28th 

Time for home unfortunately however the flights weren't until 4pm so we had the morning to kill. It was off to the Salt-pans again just to take in some of the great birds in the area again.  Nothing different really except Sand Martin was a trip tick.  I got the camera out again and had a go at digiscoping the Red Rumped Swallows and various other bits.

Bird totals were an impressive 120 give or take, especially as i didn't bird everyday. Bird list here.

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