Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Real Birder

Portugal - Algarve 21st to 28th April 2016

     

    INTRODUCTION

    Hoopoe on the Golf CourseMy wife, daughter and I spent a week in Portugal, based in Albufeira for a week from 21st April. Although I am a keen birder the rest of the family likes to do other things so we weren’t focusing on birds only.

    Our hotel was at Praia de Oura about a mile from the centre of Albufeira. We didn’t like it and if we go again we would try and stay in a more rural location. But it was close to the sea and there were a couple of small wooded valleys within easy walking distance. I had early morning walks while the family slept in and saw a few interesting birds such as Spotless Starling, Serin, Sardinian Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Gannet, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Alpine Swift and quite a few Iberian Magpies. The last were a surprise to me as I had expected to have to search quite hard to find them. I don’t think that I failed to see at least one on any day that I was in the Algarve.

    Greenshank at Quinta do LagoWe used A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal, the Azores and Madeira Archipelagos by Colm Moore, Gonçalo Elias and Helder Costa (Prion 2014) as our site guide. The directions were reasonably clear and up-to-date although it would have helped to have some more detailed maps in the book. We used a smart-phone for navigation and the combination of that and the book was just about OK.

    For those who have not been to Portugal before, the driving is fairly relaxed. People were patient with me as I hesitated at crossroads. The speed limits were completely mystifying and as far as we could tell largely ignored! Parking was never an issue.

    Buy A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal from AmazonSITES VISITED & BIRDS SEEN

    The first outing we did was to Quinta do Lago, just to the west of Faro, on 23rd April. We found the ‘rough track’ referred to in Moore & co but rather than following it we parked in the grounds of the nearby golf club. No one objected and it was handy to be able to buy drinks and use the facilities. White Stork at Quinta do LagoNear the car we had excellent views of a feeding Hoopoe. Assuming that we were in the right place, we didn’t see any sign saying ‘discovery trail’ but following the rough track for about a km brought us to a large lake with a massive hide overlooking it. (We saw quite a few Iberian Magpie and a couple of European Bee-eater along the trail.) We didn’t bother with the hide as Western Swamp-hens were wandering across the golf course. We could see Coot, Black-headed Weaver, Common Pochard and various other waterbirds but, somewhat to our surprise, we discovered that we were on the end of a large, well-marked reserve consisting of a tidal estuary and salt-marshes (not mentioned in the guide book). There was another, smaller hide, looking across this area and a well-made path heading approximately towards Faro. We saw a good variety of waders, including Turnstone, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Sanderling as well as White Stork and Little Tern. There were a few Yellow Wagtail and a Lark which I assume was Crested. There were Red-rumped Swallow in the area, too. We didn’t walk very far but clearly the area had great potential.

    Rock Bunting habitat at FoiaOn 24th we drove up to Serra de Monchique, a serra being a range of hills. We didn’t see much in the town (White Wagtail) but decided to drive higher up the hill towards Fóia, at 950m the highest point in the Algarve. We stopped before the summit at a little lay-by and explored on foot. The vegetation was very scrubby. It was one of those places where you could hear more birds than you could see. The only definite sightings were Rock Bunting, Nightingale and Stonechat though I’m pretty sure that a raptor that flashed past was a Sparrowhawk. I could see two distant raptors which looked like buzzards.

    Rock Bunting habitat at Fóia. This is the view to the West and the sea could be seen in the distance. This point is probably about 850m above sea-level.

    Lagoa dos SalgadosThe next day we visited the historic capital of the Algarve, Silves. There were lots of swifts but I’m afraid I never managed to figure out which! The same applied to a Kestrel although it must surely have been Common. The main highlight here was lovely views of nesting White Stork from the castle battlements.

    Our last major outing was to Lagoa dos Salgados on 26th. This is my idea of birding heaven – masses of birds, a great boardwalk, some ‘blinds’, a very nice café (near the beach), other birders to compare notes with, sunny weather but not too hot, and also plenty of wildflowers, butterflies a terrapin etc. I am 99% certain I saw a Lesser Emperor Dragonfly with a vivid sky blue base to its abdomen.

    The birds just kept on coming. First, I finally connected with the hoped for Greater Flamingo, about 12 of them, and not too distant.

    Gulls at Lagoa dos SalgardosI also saw an adult Audouin’s Gull – in among the masses of Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed gulls. Other highlights were Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Western Swamphen, Ruddy Shelduck (although it may have been a hybrid), Whiskered and Little Tern, Purple and Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Little Bittern, Kentish Plover, Crested Lark, Fan-tailed Warbler, European Bee-eaters (close), Hoopoe, Iberian Magpie and even a Common Sandpiper. I think I saw a Spoonbill flying past but I was too busy looking at something else to verify it.

    Some of the hundreds of gulls at the Lagoa. Most were yellow-legged but there were other species among them.

     

    That was pretty much it, bird-wise. But I’ll finish with a couple of shots taken at the hotel – and a list of birds seen.

    Yellow-legged Gull

     

    Species

     

    Location

     

    Date

    1

    Gadwall - Anas strepera

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    2

    Eurasian Wigeon - Anas penelope

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    3

    Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    4

    Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    5

    Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    6

    Common Pochard - Aythya ferina

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    7

    Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    8

    Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    9

    White Stork - Ciconia ciconia

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    10

    Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus

    Praia da Oura

    25-Apr-16

    11

    Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    12

    Little Bittern - Ixobrychus minutus

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    13

    Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    14

    Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    15

    Little Egret - Egretta garzetta

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    16

    Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    17

    Western Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    18

    Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    19

    Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    20

    Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    21

    Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    22

    Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    23

    Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    24

    Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    25

    Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    26

    Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    27

    Common Redshank - Tringa totanus

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    28

    Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    29

    Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    30

    Sanderling - Calidris alba

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    31

    Dunlin - Calidris alpina

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    32

    Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    33

    Audouin's Gull - Ichthyaetus audouinii

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    34

    Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    35

    Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus

    Praia da Oura

    26-Apr-16

    36

    Little Tern - Sternula albifrons

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    37

    Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    38

    Rock Dove - Columba livia

    Praia da Oura

    24-Apr-16

    39

    Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto

    Faro Airport Salinas

    21-Apr-16

    40

    Alpine Swift - Apus melba

    Praia da Oura

    24-Apr-16

    41

    Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops

    Praia da Oura

    23-Apr-16

    42

    European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    43

    Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    44

    Iberian Magpie - Cyanopica cooki

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    45

    Common Magpie - Pica pica

    Praia da Oura

    24-Apr-16

    46

    Crested Lark - Galerida cristata

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    47

    Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica

    Praia da Oura - cliff paths & coombs near hotel

    22-Apr-16

    48

    Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropis daurica

    Praia da Oura - cliff paths & coombs near hotel

    22-Apr-16

    49

    Common House-Martin - Delichon urbicum

    Faro Airport Salinas

    21-Apr-16

    50

    Great Tit - Parus major

    Praia da Oura

    23-Apr-16

    51

    Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    52

    Reed-Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    53

    Fan-tailed Warbler - Cisticola juncidis

    Lagoa dos Salgados

    26-Apr-16

    54

    Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala

    Praia da Oura - cliff paths & coombs near hotel

    22-Apr-16

    55

    Nightingale - Luscinia megarhynchos

    Serra de Monchique - Fóia summit road

    24-Apr-16

    56

    Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola

    Serra de Monchique - Fóia summit road

    24-Apr-16

    57

    Blackbird - Turdus merula

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    58

    Spotless Starling - Sturnus unicolor

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    59

    Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    60

    White Wagtail - Motacilla alba

    Monchique

    24-Apr-16

    61

    Rock Bunting - Emberiza cia

    Serra de Monchique - Fóia summit road

    24-Apr-16

    62

    Greenfinch - Chloris chloris

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    63

    Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis

    Faro Airport Salinas

    21-Apr-16

    64

    Linnet - Carduelis cannabina

    Praia da Oura

    23-Apr-16

    65

    Serin - Serinus serinus

    Praia da Oura

    24-Apr-16

    66

    House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

    Praia da Oura

    22-Apr-16

    67

    Black-headed Weaver - Ploceus melanocephalus

    Ria Formosa - Quinta do Lago

    23-Apr-16

    Trip Report PDF version

    Ken Noble

2016 Real Birder HomePhotosTrip ReportsLinksContact Us