Saturday, 28 May 2011

Algarve Birdwatching 15th-26th May 2011

We have recently returned from a wonderful 11 night trip to the Algarve region of Portugal. We were based on the outskirts of Vilamoura in a quiet, pleasant area. We did most of our birding locally, around the hotel and luckily for us we were able to make use of the free courtesy bus which ran from our hotel reception area. This enabled us to get into Vilamoura easily, enjoying the food, drink and ambience of the marina and also to walk the short distance to Falesia marshes for some good birding. Our first day was sunny then we had 2 days of torrential rain and storms but then pleasant weather for the rest of our stay. Photography wise, it proved to be difficult at times, either the sun too bright and harsh or the skies were overcast and grey.
We managed to clock up a list of c108 birds which we were more than happy with.
Our thanks must go to Simon Wates (, who organised a full days birding to the Alentejo region for us. He collected Rich and I  from our hotel at 6.30am and dropped us off there at 10.30pm. The three of us enjoyed an excursion of 16 hours in duration but we saw some cracking birds, including 12 raptor species of which we had great views of through his 'scope - the Spanish Imperial Eagle and an immature Golden Eagle were absolutely stunning. I added loads of "lifers" to my list and it was a superb, if exhausting day. A thoroughly recommended day out , we covered 300km and were also very relieved as the day started out with heavy rain and cloud but it brightened up enough later for us to enjoy the birding and company. Simon took us to a little village in the mountains and we were served a delicious lunch (chicken cooked on a grill in a side street!). Our hosts were warm, friendly and hospitable and fed us very well and it was a pleasure to meet them.
The Alentejo area is so vast, stunning and beautiful and thankfully, largely protected. There are some very rare and precious breeding birds, which we were priveleged to encounter. The sites are sensitive, obviously, and discretion was expected and adhered to.

I was also lucky enough to arrange to swim and spend time with dolphins which was a magical experience and a memory that will stay with me!

We shall no doubt visit Portugal again sometime in the future, i!t was a really chilled and happy place

Algarve Birds

Azure Winged Magpie

Little Egret

European Roller

Serin (female)

Serin (male)


Short Toed Treecreeper


The Hoopoe is a personal favourite of mine. I have seen them in other countries but have never been as lucky as I was with this one. It favoured the manicured gardens of our hotel and was totally undisturbed by my presence allowing me to get really close for these shots. I spent a few minutes one morning with it as it unearthed ghastly looking beetles from the ground and it also sat sunning itself whilst I sat closely by it - a really magical experience. I just love it when you have an intimate encounter like I did that day, such a privelege! :)

Kentish Plover and LRP's

Kentish Plover

Little Ringed Plover

We had great views of this Kentish Plover, a lovely little wader! Also we saw Little Ringed Plover with young.

Swallows and Martins

The population of Swallows and House Martins were in full on nest building mode and were observed on a daily basis collecting mud etc for their nests.

Algarve Birds

Mistle Thrush

Corn Bunting

Collared Pratincole



White Stork

Black Kite

Black Kite

Little Owl

A few more shots of birds noted during our visit.

A Few Water Birds

Purple Heron

Purple Gallinule

Black Winged Stilt

Little Grebe

Little Tern

A selection of birds seen at various sites during our trip. It was a delight to watch the Little Grebe feeding her sole youngster :) Little Terns were observed at most wetland sites as were the Gallinules. Try as I might I could not get Purple Heron shots in good light with a blue sky!!