TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Southern Portugal

24th - 31st March 2002


Leaders:
Keith Grant
Mike Read

Diary:

Sunday 24th March Arrival & travel to our hotel

After a rest and lunch at the hotel, those on the early flight from Heathrow walked east along the coast, and it was here that the 'Bristol crew' caught up with them later in the afternoon. Yellow-legged Gulls, Swallows and House Martins were much in evidence, and at the shallow lagoon on the edge of town, we found a pair of Kentish Plovers, several Black-winged Stilts and Little Egrets. On the way back along the esplanade, two Great Skuas, several Sandwich Terns, a Little Tern and several parties of Common Scoter were offshore.

With the Manchester flight arriving about teatime, it wasn't until dinner that the whole group came together.

Monday 25th March Quinta do Lago

Our pre-breakfast walk took us westwards from the hotel along the edge of the low cliffs. A beautiful Peregrine low overhead was a surprise, both for us and a group of Alpine Swifts that came down to see it off! A Blue Rock Thrush showed well, albeit briefly, and we had excellent views of those arch skulkers, Sardinian Warbler and Zitting Cisticola (nee Fan-tailed Warbler). A Great Skua was sitting on the water just offshore, and as we were watching this through the 'scopes, an Arctic Skua flew west, followed by a group of Gannets.

After breakfast, we boarded our coach and headed for Quinta do Lago. Here we immediately found a whole selection of shorebirds on the Rio Formosa, including Whimbrels, Redshank, Greenshank, Grey, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Dunlin and Sanderling. Further along, following the path round the edge of the golf course, we came across a lovely freshwater lake containing Purple Swamphen with chick, both Common & Red-crested Pochards, Tufted Duck, Shoveler and Gadwall, all very close and looking superb in the sunshine. Right in the distance overlooking the saltmarshes to the east, there were five Flamingos, a good flock of Spoonbills, several Avocets and Pintails, and a couple of Great Crested Grebes. Back to a superb fish restaurant for lunch and then a walk across the Dunas Dourados to a sheltered reed-fringed lake. Highlight here were breeding Little Bitterns, and one in particular gave excellent views perched up on some branches. Back to the hotel in good time for dinner.

Tuesday 26th March Foia, Monchique & Odelouca valley

Our pre-breakfast walk, this time eastwards to overlook the lagoon, was quiet, except when KG's tripod broke! We did have a Peregrine fly over the esplanade and we found our first Blackcaps for the trip.

Then after breakfast, we headed into the hills, visiting the summit at Foia. Almost immediately we found Common Whitethroat, Wood Larks and Blue Rock Thrush, all giving good to excellent views through the telescopes. A Short-toed Eagle circled quite low in front of us, and a little later, Rock Bunting showed exceptionally well as we walked slowly down the road. Brief calls from Dartford Warbler alerted us to their presence, but it wasn't until we were almost back to the coach that we saw a pair really well. We returned down the hill to Monchique for lunch in a small taverna before having a short walk through the pine woods opposite. Here we found Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinch and Greenfinch and a Sparrowhawk circled overhead. An Iberian Chiffchaff was singing most distinctively but we unfortunately didn't get decent views of this bird though did catch up with one later as we walked up the Odelouca valley. This was a lovely walk alongside the river, finding Grey Wagtail, Little Ringed Plover and various Stripe-necked Terrapins basking on logs and rocks. A Black-eared Wheatear perched on an electricity cable and showed well. Then as we climbed up to a bluff to overlook the valley, several Azure-winged Magpies were moving around below us. A Little Owl showed well perched up on a telegraph pole and 'duetted' with a second bird out of sight. A Green Woodpecker called and flew off underneath us. Finally a Kingfisher flew rapidly downstream and our final new species was a pair of Tree Sparrows. Return in good time for dinner.

Wednesday 27th March Castro Marim

Our pre-breakfast walk took us west along the cliffs. About 40 Alpine Swifts gave a wonderful display, chittering and chasing each other close overhead and below us. After breakfast, we then headed east to the Rio Guardiana which forms the border with Spain. Between Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo Antonio, we walked out alongside the river to overlook the saltpans. Excellent views of Common & Spotted Redshanks, Greenshank, Sanderling, Avocet and Black-winged Stilts. Greater Flamingos totalled some 220 birds and whilst watching these, we picked up several distant Slender-billed Gulls and a breeding plumaged Black-necked Grebe. Several Ruffs were also seen. The numerous White Stork nests in the olive trees were excellent and we were treated to several classic bill-clapping displays. Finally, a Hoopoe came very close as we were waiting near a ruined building, and I suspect it had a nest in a hole in the wall. Lunch beside some old saltpans near Castro Marim and we then moved up to the nature reserve. Standing on the viewpoint looking into the lagoons, we found over 40 Spoonbills, several pairs of Gadwall were amongst the Mallard and a Red-crested Pochard was also present. Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrike were all seen on the fence posts, and a rather brief but very distant view of Stone-curlew on the hillside. After we had looked around the visitor centre, most of us walked out along one of the tracks, where we found a Kentish Plover on a nest, Lesser Short-toed Lark in the distance and another Southern Grey Shrike. Butterflies included Bath White and Spanish Marbled White. Back in good time for dinner.

Thursday 28th March Ourique, Castro Verde

A sudden change to the weather brought stiff onshore winds with cloud, mist and occasional rain showers. What a change from the unbroken sunshine over the last few days! This wasn't conducive for a pre-breakfast walk, so we found some shelter just outside reception and tried a sea-watch for about 45 minutes. Very little was seen except a number of Sandwich Terns with a small party of Common Scoters and a few Gannets. After breakfast, we headed inland, stopping first of all just outside Ourique. A walk here produced our first Rock Sparrows, and good views also of Black Kite, Hoopoes, and a superb Booted Eagle which flew almost directly overhead. We then moved on and stopped briefly in Castro Verde itself for coffee. To the east of the town, we stopped again and immediately found several Little Bustards. We walked along a farm track finding further Little Bustards, several distant Calandra Larks, Montagu's Harriers, and we heard Stone-curlew but again failed to see them. We moved on again, stopping periodically to scan the rolling fields, until at one point we found a Great Bustard just visible above a low ridge. Everyone disembarked and this immediately flushed a superbly close Great Bustard which no-one had seen up to that moment! This flew across, landing near the ridge and enabling everyone to view it through the telescopes - definitely the highlight of the trip! Time was moving on and we had to give up getting to Mertola, so we gradually worked our way back to the main road, seeing further Little Bustards and Montagu's Harriers. Finally, after a comfort stop, we suddenly came across a Black-shouldered Kite near the roadside. Everyone out of the bus again for brief views of this bird flying across, then Stone-curlews called again and we found two of them visible on the short turf - good views at last through the telescopes! Heading home we were continually delayed by heavy traffic which had been diverted off the Lisbon-Faro motorway for some reason. Our journey back to the hotel was extended by a further hour and a quarter, which didn't leave us much time before we were due to walk to the restaurant in town for dinner. An excellent dinner and evening out.

Friday 29th March Sagres & Cape St Vincent

Our pre-breakfast walk took us to the cliffs again. The weather was virtually cloudless and settled again, and parties of Gannets were streaming westwards, presumably having been blown in towards the Mediterranean by yesterday's winds and now reorientating themselves. After breakfast, we headed westwards ourselves, stopping firstly at Ponta de Sagres, a fortified headland dating from the 16th Century. Inside, we had good views of Subalpine Warblers, Thekla Larks, two Blue Rock Thrushes and several Black Redstarts. Gannets were still streaming westwards, some right under the point! Lunch at a local restaurant, then on to Cabo de Sao Vicente, the 'Land's End of Europe'. Two Shags on the sea below the cliffs were new for the trip. We then explored the garrigue behind the point. A really superb selection of plants, together with Choughs overhead, Subalpine Warblers and Whitethroat, and a good number of Woodchat Shrikes sitting on bushes. A Little Bustard flew off, and just as we were returning to the coach, we found a single Short-toed Lark, which allowed reasonable views through the telescopes. A quick comfort stop back at the restaurant and, just as we were about to leave, a Spectacled Warbler appeared.

Saturday 30th March Alvor Estuary & Pera Marshes

An unsettled start to the day and we again walked west to the cliff tops. A few Gannets and Sandwich Terns were passing, but otherwise fairly quiet. After breakfast, we visited the Alvor Estuary, walking along the raised seawall. Good numbers of Sandwich Terns were roosting on the sand-flats amongst the quite large numbers of clam diggers. Inside the wall on the saltmarsh and lagoons, good views of Spanish Wagtails, Greenshank and two immature Flamingos. As we walked further along the wall, the sand turned to mud, and as a result, we found more shorebirds, including Black-tailed Godwits, Kentish & Grey Plovers, Dunlin and Turnstone. We then turned along one of the walls taking us across the old saltpans. The many Black-winged Stilts and several male Linnets looked very smart through the telescopes. Two Common Waxbills were found on the way back to the coach. Lunch overlooking the saltpans, then three Caspian Terns appeared on the sand-flats in the distance. We stopped briefly back at the hotel, then moved on to the Pera Marshes. After several wrong turns, we found our way to the car-park near the sand dunes. Dunlin, Kentish & Little Ringed Plovers appeared together near the lagoon outflow, then as we approached the lagoon itself, we were amazed with the variety of waterbirds in front of us! Flamingos, Pintail, Purple Gallinule, a distant Whiskered Tern gradually came closer, several Black-necked Grebes, then a Squacco Heron popped up and flew across the lagoon, disappearing into the reeds opposite. Three Purple Herons were found, and the Squacco Heron reappeared, all allowing views through the telescopes. Then a Peregrine beat up the duck and wader flocks. As we walked back over the dunes, two Stone-curlews ran off, giving superb views through the telescopes for all of us - an excellent end to the weeks birding.

Sunday 31st March Some final birding & return home

Some final birding, exploring the town and we all departed for our flights home.

SPECIES LISTS:

BIRDS

Little Grebe Seen at Quinta do Lago and Dunas Douradas on 25th, Castro Marim on 27th, Castro Marim on 27th and finally on the Pera Marshes on 30th.

Great Crested Grebe 2 seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th.

Black-necked Grebe 2 at Castro Marim on 27th and then at least 5 on the Pera Marshes on 30th.

Northern Gannet During the early walk on 25th, a group of 16 flew west. On 27th some were passing westwards a long way out to sea but one sub adult bird obviously wanted to be different as it flew east fairly close to the shore. A few were seen in the distance in wet and windy weather early on 28th. The following day, there were many passing some distance off shore during the pre breakfast walk and then closer in shore at Punta de Sagres; the total for this day was thought to be in excess of 250 birds. Much smaller numbers were seen on 30th

Great Cormorant Coastal sightings were numerous but 2 inland at the Odelouca Valley were a little unexpected. Seen every day.

European Shag 2 seen off Cape St Vincent on 29th.

Grey Heron Seen every day except 31st.

Purple Heron 3 seen on the Pera Marshes on 30th.

Cattle Egret Seen every day.

Little Egret Seen every day.

Squacco Heron One on the Pera Marshes on 30th was the first Travelling Naturalist sighting in the Algarve.

Little Bittern A male was well seen and then we detected a pair nest building deep in one of the bushes. A 4th bird was heard calling. All at Dunas Douradas on 25th.

Greater Flamingo A total of 5 were seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th and then on 26th, there were about 20 on the estuary at Portimão. The following day there were 220 at Castro Marim and on 30th we saw 2 juveniles on the Alvor Marshes and 65 on the Pera Marshes.

White Stork Perhaps 18 seen on 25th including a high-flying group at Quinta do Lago. A few were seen in the Odelouca Valley on 26th and there were dozens in the Castro Marim area on 27th. The largest numbers were in the Castro Verde area on 28th but the species was also noted on 29th & 30th.

Eurasian Spoonbill 51 seen on the salt marshes at Quinta do Lago on 25th and on 27th, there were at least 40 beside the bridge to Spain near Castro Marim. One flew over the Odelouca Estuary on 29th as we drove towards Cabo de São Vicente and on the following day there were 3 feeding in a tidal creek at the same location. Also on 30th, there were 3 at the Pera Marsh.

Gadwall Noted on 25th at Quinta do Lago, 27th at Castro Marim and on 30th at Pera Marsh.

Mallard Noted every day.

Northern Pintail 5 were on the salt marsh at Quinta do Lago and there was another at Dunas Douradas on 25th. On 30th there was a fair quantity at Pera Marsh but they were not counted due to the heat haze and the distance involved.

Northern Shoveler Seen on 24th, 25th, 27th and 30th.

Red-crested Pochard Perhaps a dozen seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th with some giving very close views. There were then 3 near Castro Marim on 27th.

Tufted Duck 2 females seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th and there were 2 more near Castro Marim on 27th.

Common Pochard 4 or 5 at Quinta do Lago on 25th with 2 more at Dunas Douradas later that day. On a pond beside the EO1 'motorway' close to Castro Marim 4 were glimpsed as we dashed past on 27th and there were at least 15 on Pera Marsh on 30th.

Common Scoter About 80 seen over the sea on 24th and a small group flew west early on 28th. We also saw a couple from the hotel on 27th and about 20 the following day.

Black Kite Our first was a single bird was seen at Castro Marim on 27th. On 28th there were 4 near Ourique and Castro Verde and the following day one was glimpsed at Cabo de São Vicente.

Red Kite One was seen from the coach near Castro Verde on 28th.

Black-shouldered Kite A single bird was well seen south of Castro Verde on 28th

Short-toed Eagle On 26th, we had excellent views of one flying over Foia and then during lunch the same day, we had a much more distant view of another one.

Marsh Harrier 3 were in the Castro Marim area on 27th and a male was seen beside the Alvor Estuary on 30th. The strangest sighting was of a male not far from Castro Verde on 28th when we saw one on dry, barren-looking land.

Montagu's Harrier In the Castro Verde area on 28th, we had about 30 sightings of this elegant raptor.

Common Buzzard Just seen on 27th on the way to Castro Marim (2) and then there were 3 near Castro Verde the following day.

Sparrowhawk Just a single bird seen at Caldas de Monchique on 26th.

Booted Eagle A single pale phase bird flew low overhead and gave us excellent views close to Ourique on 28th.

Eurasian Kestrel Seen every day.

Peregrine Falcon One during the pre breakfast walk on 25th and perhaps the same individual was the bird that was glimpsed the following morning. We also saw the species on 3 other occasions.

Red-legged Partridge 2 seen on the way to Quinta do Lago on 25th and 2 at Cabo de São Vicente on 29th. However the best quantity of sightings came during our visit to the Castro Verde area on 28th when we saw at least 20.

Water Rail The distinctive call of this elusive species was heard on the marshes beside the Alvor Estuary on 30th. A new species for The Travelling Naturalist in the Algarve.

Moorhen Noted on the first 4 days and also on 30th.

Purple Gallinule About 9 seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th including a female with 2 fluffy chicks. On 30th there were at least 5 at Pera Marsh.

Common Coot Noted on 25th, 27th and 30th.

Little Bustard At least 18 seen close to Castro Verde on 28th. This was a very good quantity to see (at 3 different locations) especially in view of a few habitat changes. However, at Cabo de São Vicente the following day we saw another 4 birds.

Great Bustard Exploration of minor roads to the east of Castro Verde on 28th paid off when 2 were well seen. Unfortunately, both birds flew up from the field of barley they were originally in but one landed in full view in a short-grass field and was plainly visible for some time.

Eurasian Oystercatcher At least 20 seen on the Alvor Estuary on 30th.

Black-winged Stilt Sightings of this long legged elegant wader began with 5 on the marshes at the eastern end of Armacao de Pera on 24th. 8 were at Quinta do Lago on 25th, we heard them at Armacao de Pera on 26th and we saw many near Castro Marim on 27th. Finally, there were good numbers at the Alvor Estuary on 30th and at the Pera Marsh later the same day.

Avocet About a dozen seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th, 30 close to Castro Marim on 27th and just a single individual at the Pera Marsh on 30th.

Stone Curlew Heard and glimpsed at Castro Marim on 27th then we saw 4 the following day near Castro Verde but the closest sighting was of 2 on the dunes beside the Pera Marsh on 30th,

Grey Plover Seen on 25th at Quinta do Lago, 27th at Castro Marim and 30th on the Alvor Estuary.

Ringed Plover Just seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th and Castro Marim on 27th.

Little-ringed Plover 2 or 3 seen in the Odelouca Valley on 26th and a fine male was on the beach at the Pera Marsh on 30th.

Kentish Plover Seen on 4 days in coastal locations, 24th, 25th 27th and 30th.

Black-tailed Godwit 3 in the morning and 8 in the afternoon close to Castro Marim on 27th and 5 on the Alvor Estuary on 30th.

Bar-tailed Godwit Just 4 seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th.

Whimbrel 2 seen on the salt marshes at Quinta do Lago on 25th and 3 on the Alvor Estuary on 30th.

Spotted Redshank 4 or 5 seen close to Castro Marim on 27th.

Common Redshank Noted on 3 'estuary days', 25th, 27th & 30th.

Common Greenshank Heard on 24th then seen on the same days as the previous species.

Green Sandpiper Just a single sighting of a bird on the Alvor Marshes on 30th.

Common Sandpiper A single bird seen at Armacao Marshes on 24th and then 2, possibly 3 during the pre breakfast walk on 27th. There were a couple more seen on 29th and also on 30th mostly pre breakfast.

Turnstone A single bird at Quinta do Lago on 25th was followed by a few at Castro Marim on 27th and there were a couple on the Alvor Estuary on 30th.

Sanderling Seen at Quinta do Lago (25th), Castro Marim (27th) and the Alvor Estuary (30th).

Little Stint A couple at Castro Marim on 27th and also on the Alvor Estuary on 30th.

Dunlin About 40 a Quinta do Lago on 25th was the best quantity but then also seen on 27th and 30th.

Ruff Just a single sighting of 4 near Castro Marim on 27th.

Great Skua 2 just offshore from the hotel on the first 2 days and then 3 there on 28th in strongish winds. One of these was also present on 29th and 30th.

Arctic Skua 1 rather distant bird heading west early on 25th and probably 2 during the sea watch from the hotel on 28th.

Yellow-legged Gull Seen every day.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Seen every day.

Black-headed Gull Just a single bird seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th, 5 in the Odelouca Valley on 26th, seen at Castro Marim on 27th and finally on the Odelouca and Alvor Estuaries on 30th.

Mediterranean Gull 1 first winter bird on 24th at Armacao Marshes.

Slender-billed Gull An adult and 3 or 4 juveniles seen somewhat distantly near Castro Marim on 27th.

Caspian Tern 3 on the Alvor Estuary on 30th and 2 flew east past the hotel at lunchtime on 31st.

Sandwich Tern Seen every day especially from the hotel.

Little Tern A single bird seen at Armacao de Pera on 24th.

Whiskered Tern Just a single bird seen on Pera Marsh on 30th. A new species for The Travelling Naturalist in the Algarve.

Wood Pigeon 2 seen on the roadside on Foia on 26th were the only ones seen.

Feral Pigeon Seen every day.

Eurasian Collared Dove Seen every day.

Little Owl A single bird was seen in the Odelouca Valley on 26th though a second bird was heard calling. Also, 1 glimpsed near Castro Marim on 27th and at least one seen near Castro Verde the following day.

Alpine Swift Plenty seen during our westward pre breakfast walks in particular with up to 60 or so circling high over a peregrine on the final morning.

Common Swift Seen in small numbers on 25th - 27th and 29th - 31st mostly during the pre breakfast walks.

Common Kingfisher A single bird was glimpsed in the Odelouca Valley on 26th

Eurasian Hoopoe One seen by the 'Bristol flyers' on the way to the hotel on 24th and this was followed by 1 on 25th, 3+ on 27th, 6 or 7 on 28th, 2 on 29th and finally 6 on 30th.

Great Spotted Woodpecker One heard calling at Dunas Duradas on 25th and 1 glimpsed in the Odelouca Valley the following day.

Green Woodpecker A single call was heard at Dunas Douradas on 25th ad another was heard calling and then flew past us on 26th in the Odelouca Valley.

Calandra Lark At least 8 seen near Castro Verde on 28th including 3 together in song flight though these were rather distant.

Short-toed Lark A single bird was seen near Cape St Vincent on 29th and there were 2 in the dunes at Pera Marsh on 30th.

Lesser Short-toed Lark One of 2 sighted near Castro Marim on 27th was well seen.

Crested Lark Regularly seen every day on suitable habitat.

Thekla Lark As usual, just seen at Fortaleza de Sagres, on 29th, where there were good numbers present.

Wood Lark A pair was well seen on Foia on 26th and then 4 - 6 birds near Ourique, including 3 in low-level song flight just above us on 28th.

Sand Martin Just a single bird seen near Castro Marim on 27th.

Barn Swallow Seen every day.

Red-rumped Swallow 2 on Foia on 26th was the only sighting.

House Martin Seen every day especially around the buildings of Armacao de Pera.

Yellow Wagtail A superb male of the Spanish race was well seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th and also seen at the Armacao Marsh on 26th, Castro Marim on 27th and the Alvor Marsh on 30th.

White Wagtail Just a single bird seen to the east of Armacao on 24th.

Grey Wagtail 3 in the Odelouca Valley on 26th were the only ones seen.

Meadow Pipit The 25th and the 30th were the only days we missed this species.

Tree Pipit 1 well seen and heard calling at Ponta de Sagres on 29th. A new species for The Travelling Naturalist in the Algarve.

Southern Grey Shrike 1 on 25th, 3 on 27th and also seen on 29th and 30th. However by far our best day was seeing at least 20 in the Castro Verde area on 28th.

Woodchat Shrike Noted on 6 days including at least 6 near Castro Verde on 28th.

Wren Heard during the pre breakfast walk on 25th then seen on Foia on 26th and at Ponta de Sagres on 29th.

Blue Rock Thrush Seen during the pre breakfast walks on 25th and in the same area on 31st. Also seen on Foia on 26th and there were 2 males at Ponta de Sagres on 29th.

Blackbird Seen every day.

Robin Only heard singing at Caldas de Monchique on 26th.

Black Redstart At least 8 seen at Ponta de Sagres on 29th and this included stunningly close, frame filling 'scope views of a fine male. This bird came so near that Keith even managed some video footage of it!

Common Redstart A male at Quinta do Lago on 25th was unfortunately only seen by a few of the group. A new species for The Travelling Naturalist in the Algarve.

Common Stonechat Seen every day from 26th until 30th inclusive.

Northern Wheatear 1 on 25th at Quinta do Lago, 2 on 27th near Castro Marim and also seen near Castro Verde on 28th.

Black-eared Wheatear 1 in the Odelouca Valley on26th and another near Castro Marim the following day.

Fan-tailed Warbler Seen (and heard!) every day.

Cetti's Warbler Heard at Quinta do Lago and Dunas Douradas on 25th and also in the Odelouca Valley on 26th.

Blackcap Seen pre breakfast and at Caldas de Monchique on 26th and 1 heard close to Castro Verde on 27th.

Common Whitethroat Seen before breakfast on 26th and then at Ponta de Sagres on 29th.

Sardinian Warbler This lovely bird was seen every day except 24th and 28th.

Subalpine Warbler 8 - 10 seen at Ponta de Sagres on 29th.

Spectacled Warbler 1 near Cabo de Sao Vicente on 29th and then even better views of one on the Alvor Marsh the following day.

Dartford Warbler At least 4 seen on Foia included some fairly good views of this usually skulking species.

Willow Warbler Just a single bird seen at Ponta de Sagres on 29th.

Iberian Chiffchaff Heard singing near Caldas de Monchique on 26th and then seen in the Odelouca Valley that same afternoon. Also one heard singing in Armacao de Pera on 30th.

Crested Tit A single bird was heard and glimpsed at Caldas de Monchique on 26th.

Great Tit Just noted on 26th and 27th at Caldas de Monchique and near Castro Marim respectively.

Blue Tit Recorded on 26th at Caldas de Monchique and on 28th near Castro Verde.

Short-toed Treecreeper Seen on 26th at Caldas de Monchique and heard on 28th near Castro Verde.

Eurasian Jay Seen on 3 days; 25th, 26th and 28th.

Black-billed Magpie 3 seen close to Castro Marim on 27th.

Azure-winged Magpie A total of about 35 - 40 birds were seen on 25th at Quinta do Lago and Dunas Douradas and we then saw quite a few the following day in the Odelouca Valley. On 27th a single bird was seen in the Castro Verde area and on 31st, 2 were briefly seen as we drove to the airport.

Red-billed Chough At least 6 seen close to Cabo de Sao Vicente on 29th.

Eurasian Jackdaw At least 4 seen at Cabo de Sao Vicente on 29th.

Carrion Crow A pair was seen close to Ourique on 28th.

Common Raven 4 or 5 seen on 28th during our 'inland day' and another was seen close to Ponta de Sagres the following day.

Spotless Starling At least 15 seen near Castro Marim on 27th and this was followed by further birds on the following two days.

Corn Bunting Seen every day except 25th.

Rock Bunting About 5 on Foia on 26th

Chaffinch At least 2 near Caldas de Monchique on 26th and 1 near Ourique on 28th.

European Serin Noted on 4 days with the best views at Quinta do Lago on 25th.

European Greenfinch Seen on 25th, 26th, 27th & 30th.

European Goldfinch Seen every day.

Eurasian Linnet Seen every day, in small numbers, except 31st.

Common Waxbill About 15 seen at Quinta do Lago on 25th. Most were '90 mph jobs' just dashing past but eventually we were able to secure some good views. We then saw 2 on the Alvor Marshes on 30th.

House Sparrow Seen every day.

Tree Sparrow At least 4 in the Odelouca Valley on 26th were the first for a Travelling Naturalist group in the Algarve.

Rock Sparrow About 20, possibly as many as twice that number, seen near Ourique on 28th.

OTHER TAXA

MAMMALS

Brown Rat One dead individual seen on 30th and a live one was glimpsed on 31st.

Brown Hare 1 on 27th near Castro Marim and a further 2 in the Castro Verde area the following day.

Rabbit Just a single individual seen on 25th.

Garden Dormouse A single individual was found on heathland near Cabo de Sao Vicente on 29th. To quote a well-known Monty Python sketch, unfortunately it was late, had ceased to exist, it was no more, had expired, in fact it was dead.

AMPHIBIANS

Marsh Frog Presumably it was this species that was heard on 25th at Quinta do Lago and on 30th at Pera Marsh

REPTILES

European Pond Terrapin Just a single individual at Quinta do Lago on 25th.

Stripe-necked Terrapin 14 seen in the Odelouca Valley on 26th were probably this species.

BUTTERFLIES

Just as species recorded with the number of days on which it was seen noted in brackets:-

Swallowtail (3)

Spanish Festoon (2)

Large White (1)

Small White (2)

Bath White (1)

Clouded Yellow (6)

Brimstone (1)

Green Hairstreak (1)

Geranium Bronze (1)

Brown Argus (2)

Common Blue (1)

Red Admiral (1)

Painted Lady (4)

Spanish Marbled White (1)

Small Heath (1)

Speckled Wood (2)

ALSO IDENTIFIED

Common Darter Dragonfly

Egyptian Grasshopper

Another great Travelling Naturalist tour to the Algarve with a wonderful group who 'gelled' together very well. As usual, there was much good humour to go with the tasty (very, very tasty) food and abundant liquid refreshment (mostly of the red and white varieties!).

The wildlife watching was not bad either with daily totals of bird species recorded being as follows:-

34 on 24th, 72 on 25th, 61 on 26th, 77 on 27th, 53 on 28th, 50 on 29th and 73 on 30th.

We ended up with a grand total of 142 species of birds plus many other good sightings too. And in places, the flowers were just wonderful.........

We both hope to see you all again on future Travelling Naturalist tours.

Mike Read and Keith Grant

April 2002


© The Travelling Naturalist 2002