TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Southern Portugal

4 - 11 April 2004


Leaders:
Andy Smith

4th April - Gatwick to Alte via Faro. Sunny with scattered cloud, warm.

Our flight arrived on time at Faro in the late afternoon and after clearing the hotel and collecting our minibus we drove north-westwards away from the busy Algarve coastal strip to the market town of Loule and then across country through scrub covered hills and pretty white-washed villages. A roadside Little Owl occasioned one stop and our first Bee-eaters greeted us as we arrived at our hotel in Alte. After settling in we assembled for our first Portuguese dinner and admired the beautiful sunset view from the terrace.

5th April - Rocha da Pena and the Pera Marshes. Sunny, scattered cloud, easterly breeze, warm.

After breakfast we drove the short distance to the picturesque and atmospheric village of Penina and then walked to the top of the Rocha da Pena, a 420 metre high flat-topped Limestone hill with truly superb views of the surrounding Algarve landscape. The hill is a nature reserve, principally for its botanical interest, and indeed the flower-studded scrubland was like a natural rock garden. Dominant were the various species of Cistus with their delicate pink or white flowers, but other notables included lots of Tassel Hyacinths and both Mirror Orchids and the local olbiensis form of Early Purple Orchid. Birds were few but included almost constant Serins and Sardinian Warblers and some close Bee-eaters; whilst butterflies included Spanish Festoon, Clouded Yellow, Green hairstreak, Lorquin's Blue and Spanish Marbled Whites.

Lunch back at the hotel was interrupted by a female Goshawk and a trio of Black kites low overhead and then we headed south to the coast and the Pera Marshes, a shallow lagoon just in from the sea behind a dune ridge. Here we found a host of wetland birds including lots of Black-winged Stilts and Avocets, over 30 Purple Swamphens, two Spoonbills, both Wood and Green Sandpipers and Kentish Plovers. An adult Purple Heron dropping in to the reeds and a female Marsh Harrier causing pandemonium amongst the duck and waders added further excitement. A Little Owl roosting in a trackside almond tree as we left concluded a satisfying first day.

6th April - Castro Verde and Mertola. Sunny with scattered cloud, gentle south-easterly breeze, very warm.

We spent the whole day exploring the rolling, flower-studded grass plains between Castro Verde and Mertola in Beijo Alentejo. Almost as soon as we left the main north/south motorway we started to see exciting birds. A Black-shouldered Kite precipitated a sudden stop and a little further on we found a flock of displaying Little Bustards, rapidly followed by a group of half a dozen elegant Montagu's Harriers engaged in a beautiful aerial ballet. Smart Southern Grey Shrikes, neat Spotless Starlings and chunky Corn Buntings regularly punctuated the telegraph wires, whilst occupied White Stork nests on the poles housed colonies of House and Spanish Sparrows. Quails called unseen from the fields, Azure-winged Magpies flicked through the roadside trees and a stop by a small river produced wonderfully close Bee-eaters and Red-rumped Swallows, a nice patch of Jonquils and Hooped Petticoats and a formidable Scorpion lurking under a stone. Near the village of Sao Marcos we drove out across the tracks and rapidly found a group of impressive Great Bustards strutting majestically across the grassland whilst four Black-bellied Sandgrouse hurtled past calling loudly and Calandra Larks chased and sang all around us. We ate our lunch by a small lake with Pond Terrapins and Great-crested Grebes and then continued eastwards towards Mertola noting a couple of Black-eared Wheatears en-route, one black throated and one black masked.

At Mertola we walked around the old town and admired the lovely architecture and the views along the Guadiana River. Masses of House Martins hawked around the rooftops whilst higher up a few Lesser Kestrels allowed us reasonable views and a Blue Rock Thrush sang from the battlements of the Moorish castle. Finally, after a very enjoyable day, we began the drive back to Alte.

7th April - Odelouca Valley, Monchique Hills and the Rocha da Pena. Sunny with some scattered cloud, south-westerly breeze, very warm.

After breakfast we set off for the Monchique Hills, a 1000 metre high range that neatly separates the western Algarve from the Alentejo to the north. En-route we travelled along part of the Odelouca Valley and made a couple of stops. At the first we looked over an inter-tidal area where we found several Greenshank, a couple of Spoonbills, lots of Black-headed Gulls and a good number of Tongue Orchids growing amongst the grass around us. At the second stop looking along a reed-fringed stretch of the river a Nightingale sang while Bee-eaters hawked in the distance and Pond Terrapins loafed on the banks.

Driving up into the Monchique Hills we were shocked by the extent of last summer's fires, some of the most serious in living memory: huge areas were completely devastated. We enjoyed a late morning coffee at the café at the top of Foia, the highest point in the Algarve and then explored the adjacent heathland. Here we found the expected Dartford Warblers, a singing Common Whitethroat (at just about its only station in the Algarve) and after a bit of searching, a rather elusive male Rock Bunting. A confiding female Ring Ouzel was a surprise and presented a lovely picture as she foraged on a patch of gentian studded grassland. We ate our picnic in cork oak forest a little west of Casais. The hoped for flora had been sadly destroyed by burning but Crested Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers and a passing Short-toed Eagle added some compensation before we began the journey back to the hotel.

In the late afternoon some of the group went out to the eastern end of the Rocha da Pena. Birds were few but included a singing Blue Rock Thrush and a brief pair of Rock Buntings. The flowers however were outstanding and at the top we found a carpet of the delightful Barbary Nut interspersed with, Mirror, Yellow Bee and Woodcock Orchids, Star of Bethlehem and Peony (Paeonia broteroi) - lovely!

8th April - Punta de Sagres, Beliche and Cape St. Vincent. Overcast with sunny breaks, fresh west-north-westerly wind, cool.

We started the day at the Punta de Sagres, a cliff bound limestone headland a little back from Cape St Vincent that houses Henry the Navigator's 15th century school of navigation. With one eye on the history we took a walk around and admired both the impressive coastal scenery and the extraordinary vegetation. Birds included close-up Thekla Larks, Black Redstarts and Pallid Swifts, a couple of Alpine Swifts, several Shags and a fast moving Peregrine. We ate our picnic in a sheltered spot out on the heathland behind Beliche and then took another walk that brought us into contact with several Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes and Red-rumped Swallows, a pair of neat little Spectacled Warblers, a passing Booted Eagle and another Peregrine that made a spectacular stoop. Non-avian interest continued apace with the discovery of a Bedriaga's Skink under a stone and a couple of Dung Beetles going about there unsavoury but entertaining business. From Beliche we made our way to Cape St Vincent itself, noting a roadside Red-billed Chough en-route and finished the day at the lighthouse enjoying the dramatic cliffs and seascape.

Good Friday 9th April - Castro Marim. Sunny with scattered cloud, south-westerly breeze, warm.

Today we headed off towards Castro Marim near the mouth of the Guadiana River and the border with Spain. En-route we stopped at a roadside sand quarry north-west of Loule where we had some excellent views of courting Bee-eaters and located a singing Nightingale. At Castro Marim itself we spent a rewarding morning exploring some of the vast saltpan and saltmarsh complex and encountered a wide range of birds. Highlights included dozens of Black-winged Stilt, several Avocet, a few Spotted Redshank and Little Stints, over 50 Curlew Sandpipers, a trio of Little Gulls, about 300 distant Greater Flamingos, lots of smart Iberian Yellow Wagtails and a pair of Stone Curlew. Best of all however were the numerous Collared Pratincoles that were all around us throughout the morning hawking insects, courting and calling loudly, and the superb Short-toed Eagle that drifted past low and close and allowed everyone to see it really well. After a picnic lunch we drove around to another part of the complex and added Short-toed Lark and Red-crested Pochard to the list before finishing the day at a small river bridge near the village of Junqueira where we found Red-rumped Swallow, Crag Martin and Waxbill.

Back at Alte, after an early dinner and a brief session viewing Venus and Jupiter through the telescopes we made our way down into the town to join the candle-lit Good Friday procession; an atmospheric end to an enjoyable day.

10th April - Barragem de Monte da Rocha, Ourique and Senhora da Cola. Sunny with a fresh north-westerly wind. Cold in the morning but warmer in the afternoon.

After breakfast we headed north into the Alentejo again. At our first stop, at the motorway services near Almodovar we were surprised to find a superb male Black-eared Wheatear clearing up roadkill insects from the forecourt. The bird was very confiding and alongside a Crested Lark, allowed some really excellent views. The bulk or the morning was then spent walking through the Holm Oak parkland (or "montados") by the shores of the Barragem de Monte da Rocha near Ourique. Despite fine sunshine, the keen north-westerly wind kept temperatures down and restricted bird activity. Nevertheless we had a very enjoyable time and saw a good range of species that included Red-legged Partridge, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Woodlark, Azure-winged Magpie, Little Owl, Spotless Starling, Hoopoe, Nuthatch and some very close Corn Buntings. The trees were full of bird calls and the whole very pleasant scene was set off nicely by three Iberian Hares, a pair of courting Black Kites, a flock of over 150 Cattle Egrets accompanying a large flock of sheep and several pairs of White storks bill clattering noisily at their nests on an old ruined farmstead.

From here we proceeded into Ourique for coffee and then drove the short distance down to Senhora da Cola where we ate our picnic by the tranquil and beautiful Mira River. After lunch we walked a little way along the bank and explored a ruined farm and mill. Birds included lots of Bee-eaters, a close fly-past Hoopoe, a Kingfisher, singing Short-toed Treecreepers, a Nightingale and a pair of Cirl Buntings. In the water we found Crayfish and Iberian Pool Frogs and along the bank several Large Psammodromus Lizards and a fine Painted Frog. After soaking up the atmosphere of this splendid place we visited the ruined hilltop Moorish castle at Senhora da Cola itself and then made our way circuitously back to Alte.

Easter Sunday 11th April - Rocha da Pena, Ludo and Faro Airport. Sunny with a cool south-easterly wind.

With breakfast completed we took our leave of Alte and paid a last visit to the Rocha da Pena so that everyone could catch up with the wonderful flowers at the eastern end of the hill. After this we drove on down through Loule to Ludo, an area of woodland, saltpans, marsh and estuary close to Faro Airport. Either side of a picnic here we enjoyed a last bit of birding and had some absolutely fabulous views of both Caspian and Little Terns alongside a range of waders, some Waxbills, a few Azure-winged Magpies and a pair of Sardinian Warblers attending a nest. Among the saltmarsh vegetation we noticed some good stands of the strange yellow broomrape-like Cistanche phelyapaea and lots of spikes of Heart-flowered Tongue Orchid Serapias cordigera. On the mudflats by the track ranks of Fiddler Crabs waved their grotesque outsized claws in ponderous unison, a reminder for us perhaps that it was time to make our way to the airport and begin our journey home.

SPECIES LISTS

Birds

The numbers after each species entry denotes the number of days out of a total of eight on which the bird was recorded, followed by the total number of individuals seen.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis - seen or heard on four days with a max. of 15 at Pera Marshes on the 5th . 4/20

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus - 10 near at Sao Marcos Lake on the 6th. 1/10

Gannet Morus bassanus - 30+ offshore at Sagres and Cape St Vincent on the 8th. 1/30

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo - Singles on four dates. 4/9

Shag P. aristotelis - 5+ at Sagres on the 8th. 1/5

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - Seen almost daily with a max. of 10 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 6/25

Purple Heron A. purpurea - One at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/1

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis - Common, seen daily. Max of 150+ with sheep at the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th . 6/300+

Little Egret Egretta garzetta - seen almost daily with a max. of 5 at Castro Marim on the 9th. 6/15

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber - 300+ distant birds at Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/300+

White Stork Ciconia ciconia - Seen daily with a max. of 100+ in the Alentejo on the 6th. 7/200+

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia - 2 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, 4 in the Odelouca Valley on the 7th and 8 at Castro Marim on the 9th. 3/14

Gadwall Anas strepera - Ones and two's on five dates. 5/6

Mallard A. platyrhynchos - Common, seen almost daily. 6/60

Pintail A. acuta - One drake at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/1

Shovelor A. clypeata - 8 at Pera Marshes on the 5th and 10 at Castro Marim on the 9th. 2/18

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina - Three at Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/3

Common Pochard Aythya ferina - Two at Ludo on the 10th. 1/2

Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus - Two single birds near Castro Verde on the 6th. 1/2

Black Kite Milvus migrans - Three over the Alte Hotel on the 5th, 5 in the Castro Verde/Mertola area on the 6th and 6+ in the Ourique/Barragem de Monte da Rocha area on the 10th. 3/15+

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus - One near Casais in the Monchique Hills on the 7th and three in the Castro Marim area on the 9th. 2/4

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus - 20+ in the Castro Verde/Mertola area on the 6th. 1/20

Marsh Harrier C. aeruginosus - One female at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/1

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus - One in the Monchique Hills on the 7th. 1/1

Goshawk A. gentilis - One female over the Alte Hotel on the 5th. 1/1

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo - Small numbers seen almost daily. 5/12

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus - One migrant dark phase bird at Cape St Vincent on the 8th. 1/1

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni - At least 10 at Mertola on the 6th. 1/10

Common Kestrel F. tinnunculus - Small numbers seen almost daily. 6/20+

Peregrine F. peregrinus - Two sightings of single birds at Cape St Vincent on the 8th. 1/2

Red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa - Small numbers seen or heard almost daily in a range of habitats. 5/25+

Quail Coturnix coturnix - Small numbers heard almost daily. 5/10+h

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus - One heard at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/1h

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus - Small numbers seen almost daily, but 25+ at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 5/40

Coot Fulica atra - Seen on four dates with a max of 40+ at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 4/70

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio - 30+ at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/30+

Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax - 12+ seen in the Castro Verde area on the 6th and two near the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th. 2/14+

Great Bustard Otis tarda - Nine males seen very well near Castro Verde on the 6th. 1/9

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus - Common, seen at all coastal wetlands. 5/200+

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta - 80 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th and 10+ at Castro Marim on the 9th. 2/90

Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus - Two seen in flight near Castro Verde on the 6th and two seen well on the ground at Castro Marim on the 9th. 2/4

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola - 100+ at Castro Marim on the 9th - lovely! 1/100+

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus - One seen briefly at the Punta de Sagres on the 8th. 1/1

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola - Small numbers seen at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, Castro Marim on the 9th and Ludo on the 11th. 3/7

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula -Two at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, 50+ at Castro Marim on the 9th and three at Ludo on the 11th. 3/60+

Little Ringed Plover C. dubius - Two at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, one near Mertola on the 6th and another at Ludo on the 11th. 3/4

Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus - Small numbers seen on four dates with a max of 15 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 4/20

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa Limosa - 20 at Castro Marim on the 9th.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus - Two at Ludo on the 11th.1/2

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus - 5 at Castro Marim on the 9th.1/5

Common Redshank T. totanus - Seen at three sites with a max. of 10 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 3/13

Greenshank T. nebularia - Seen on four dates with a max of 12 on the Odelouca estuary on the 7th. 4/23

Green Sandpiper T. ochropus - Three at the Pera Marshes on the 5th and one near Sao Marcos on the 6th. 2/4

Wood Sandpiper T. glareola - Two at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/2

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleuca - Small numbers seen on six dates. 6/10

Turnstone Arenaria interpres - Three at Ludo on the 11th. 1/3

Sanderling Calidris alba - 50 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/50

Little Stint C. minuta - 5+ at Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/5

Dunlin C. alpina - 10 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, 100+ at Castro Marim on the 9th and 20 at Ludo on the 11th. 3/130+

Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea - 50+ at Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/50

Ruff Philomachus pugnax - Ten at the Pera Marshes on the 5th and 10 at Castro Marim on the 9th. 2/20

Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans -Common, seen on five dates. 5/70+

Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus - Seen on three dates with a max of 50 at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 3/85+

Black-headed Gull L.ridibundus - 30 at the Odelouca Estuary on the 7th and 100+ at Castro Marim on the 9th. 2/130+

Little Gull L. minuta - Three at Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/3

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia - One at Ludo on the 11th. 1/1

Sandwich Tern S. sandvicensis - Three at the Pera Marshes on the 5th and two at Ludo on the 11th. 2/5

Little Tern S. albifrons - 4+ at Castro Marim on the 9th and 5 at Ludo on the 11th. 2/9

Razorbill Alca torda - 9 west past the Punta de Sagres on the 8th. 1/9

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis - 4 in flight near Sao Marcos on the 6th. 1/4

Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon Columba livia - Feral birds seen daily, but wild type birds seen in the Cape St Vincent area on the 8th and at the Rocha da Pena on the 11th. 8/70+

Wood Pigeon C. palumbus - Two near Ourique on the 10th. 1/2

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto - Common, seen on six dates. 6/32

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus - Odd birds seen or heard on four dates. 4/6

Little Owl Athene noctua - Single birds seen on six occasions. 4/6

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba - Two at the Punta de Sagres on the 8th. 1/2

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus - 12+ at the Punta de Sagres on the 8th. 1/12

Common Swift A. apus - Small numbers seen on four dates. 4/35

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis - One at Senhora da Cola on the 10th. 1/1

Bee-eater Merops apiaster - Common, seen daily. 8/160+

Hoopoe Upapa epops - Rather scarce, with only seven birds seen or heard, mostly in the Alentejo. 3/7

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major - Single birds seen or heard on four occasions. 3/4

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis - Single birds seen or heard on four occasions. 4/4

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra - 20+ in the Castro Verde area on the 6th. 1/20

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla - Small numbers seen on the dunes at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, in the Alentejo on the 6th and at Castro Marim on the 9th. 3/15

Crested Lark Galerida cristata - Common, seen almost daily. 6/50

Thekla Lark G. theklae - Several seen in the Cape St Vincent area on the 8th and a few around the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th. 2/17

Woodlark Lullula arborea - Small numbers seen or heard on five dates. 5/15

Sand Martin Riparia riparia - Small numbers seen at Castro Marim on the 9th and at the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th. 2/15

Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris - One at Junqueira near Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/1

Barn Swallow H. rustica - Common, seen daily. 8/70+

Red-rumped Swallow H. daurica - Common, seen almost daily. 6/30

House Martin Delichon urbica - Very common, seen daily. 8/300+

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava - Small numbers seen on three dates with a max. of 25 at Castro Marim on the 9th. 3/32

Grey Wagtail M. cinerea - Two at a river bridge near Loule on the 9th. 1/2

White Wagtail M.alba - One at the Pera Marshes on the 5th and three at the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th. 2/4

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris - One on the dunes at the Pera Marshes on the 5th. 1/1

Meadow Pipit A. pratensis - 15 on the dunes at the Pera Marshes on the 5th and at least six on the Beliche heathlands on the 8th. 2/21

Tree Pipit A. trivialis - One at Beliche on the 8th. 1/1

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis - 20+ in the Castro Verde area on the 6th, two at Castro Marim on the 9th and at least five in the Ourique area on the 10th . 3/27

Woodchat Shrike L. senator - Common, small numbers seen daily. 8/25

Wren Troglodytes troglodytes - Heard on three dates .3/9h

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius - Ones and two's seen on five dates. 5/7

Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus - One female at the top of Foia on the 7th. 1/1

Blackbird T. merula - Common, seen daily. 8/30

Mistle Thrush T. viscivorus - One at Beliche on the 8th. 1/1

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos - Small numbers heard almost daily and single birds seen near Loule on the 9th and at Senhora da Cola on the 10th. 7/16

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros - At least eight at the Punta de Sagres on the 8th. 1/8

Stonechat Saxicola torquata - Common, seen on five dates. 5/35

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica - One on the dunes at the Pera Marshes on the 5th, three in the Alentejo on the 6th and the famous motorway bird on the 10th. 3/5

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis - Common, seen daily. 8/55

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti - Seen or heard on five dates. 5/10

Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus - One heard at Ludo on the 11th. 1/1

Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus brehmii - Two heard in th Monchique Hills on the 7th. 1/2

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla - Seen or heard in the Monchique Hills on the 7th and at Junqueira near Castro Marim on the 9th. 2/3

Common Whitethroat S. communis - One male singing at the top of Foia on the 7th. 1/1

Sardinian Warbler S. melanocephala - Common, seen daily. 8/55

Spectacled Warbler S. conspicillata - Three at beliche on the 8th. 1/3

Dartford Warbler S. undata - Seen on the Rocha da Pena on the 5th and on the top of Foia on the 7th. 2/5

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus - One at Penina on the 7th and at least two at Senhora da Cola on the 10th. 2/3+

Crested Tit Parus cristata - Two near Casais in the Monchique Hills on the 7th. 1/2

Blue Tit P. caeruleus - Seen or heard on four dates. 4/12

Great Tit P. major - Seen or heard on five dates. 5/16

Nuthatch Sitta europea - Two in the Monchique Hills on the 7th and at least three at the Barragem de Mont da Rocha on the 10th. 2/5

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla - Seen or heard on four dates. 4/9

Jay Garrulus glandarius - Singles seen on five occasions. 4/5

Eurasian Magpie Pica pica - Two near Castro Marim on the 9th. 1/2

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana - Small numbers seen on five dates with the best views being on the last morning at Ludo. 5/35

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax - At least four seen in the Cape St Vincent area on the 8th. 1/4

Jackdaw Corvus monedula - 15+ in the Cape St Vincent area on the 8th. 1/15

Carrion Crow C. corone - Singles in the Alentejo on the 6th and the 10th. 2/2

Raven C. corax - Three in the Alentejo on the 6th and two near Cape St Vincent on the 8th. 2/5

Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor - Seen on four dates. Commonest in the Alentejo. 4/35

House Sparrow Passer Domesticus - Common, seen daily. 8/300+

Spanish Sparrow P. hispaniolensis - Lots seen in the Alentejo on the 6th and the 10th . 2/100+

Rock Sparrow P. petronia - At least one heard near Castro Verde on the 6th and two seen very briefly at the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th. 2/3+

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild - At least eight at Junqueira near Castro Marim on the 9th and another dozen or so at Ludo on the 11th. 2/20

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs - Small numbers in the Monchique Hills on the 7th and in the Alentejo on the 10th. 2/5

Serin Serinus Serinus - Common, seen daily. 8/80+

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris - Common, seen almost daily. 7/40+

Goldfinch C.carduelis - Common, seen daily. 8/70+

Linnet C. cannabina -Common, seen almost daily. 6/40+

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus - At least six in the Senhora da Cola area on the 10th. 1/6

Rock Bunting E. cia - One male at the top of Foia on the 7th, a pair at the Rocha da Pena also on the 7th and another singleton on the Rocha da Pena on the 11th. 2/4

Corn Bunting Milaria calandra - Very common, seen daily. 8/200+

Mammals

Iberian Brown Hare Lepus europaeus - One at Castro Marim on the 9th and three at the Barragem de Monte da Rocha on the 10th

Common Genet G. genetta - One seen by Terry at Ludo on the 11th. A lucky sighting indeed! Had it come to share his special sandwich perhaps?

Risso's Dolphin Grampus griseus - A small pod of large grey dolphins with prominent backswept dorsal fins seen briefly off the Punta da Sagres on the 8th were thought to be this species.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Iberian Pool Frog (various sites), Painted Frog (Senhora da Cola), European Pond Terrapin (various sites), Large Psammodromus (various sites), Bedriaga's Skink (Beliche; a star find by Clive during a bout of stone turning.).

Butterflies

Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Spanish Festoon, Large White, Small White Portuguese Dappled White, Bath White, Clouded Yellow, Cleopatra, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Common Blue, Lorquin's Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Plain Tiger, Spanish Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown.

Other notable Invertebrates.

Scorpion (more of Clive's stone turning!), Crayfish, Fiddler Crab, Oil Beetle and Dung Beetle.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to all the group members for their relaxed attitude and consistent good humour. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and we certainly saw a lot of "stuff".

Andy Smith, Chilling, April 2004.


© The Travelling Naturalist 2004