A great day up the mountain - glorious sunshine but not overly hot...
Started in Gavarnie and was rewarded by 7 Alpine Swifts. The downside was the walk to find out whether they're nesting. It's not overly long but a little tricky (scary) in couple of places. The initial drive was pretty good - a high Booted Eagle being mobbed by a huge cloud of Alpine Choughs, mainly, a fly by Lammergeier but no Red Backed Shrikes or Rock Thrush. Anyway, back to the walk - shortly after I arrived an Alpine Swift entered a crack on the cliff face - bingo. That said I was there for a good hour and only saw one entry - not the same nest hole as 2017.
In situ got a couple of Citril Finch, Ring Ouzel and a great Peregrine - who could fly upside down. And finally on the walk back another Citril Finch and Spotted Flycatcher....
After my walk at Gavarnie I was motivated to go Wallcreeper hunting at Gloriettes. No that is a horrible walk albeit only 45 minutes - ok a fit person could shave 10 mins off my time I admit but it is pretty stiff.
I set up a bit short because I thought there wasn't much point going all the way if the bird wasn't there. Few bonus birds were Alpine Accentor, a Izzard (ok not a bird), a couple of Golden Eagles over the time I was there...
Finally, after about 45 minutes a male Wallcreeper came to the old nest site and started calling. It flew off but returned 10 minutes later. I didn't see it go in the nest though. It didn't come back in the following 45 minutes. SO maybe I should have done the full walk because the shots would have been a lot better!
Not overly successful but a visit to soulor... some black kits en route 120 but cloudy at the top. A red kite eating a dead cat - road kill another 60 black kites then some great views of griffin and Egyptian. Then nothing! Could see 10 meters! Another big group of black kite on the way down looking lost...
Picnic at Saligos - just by luz. 152 black kites in three main groups before got the blanket out!
Bizarrely none in the next hour or so.
However, some great views of short tied eagle and then a black vulture. Really played the game by being the lowest most visible bird...
There were lots and lots of Swift’s and martins and an occasional swallow which threw up their alarm when a hobby went through the middle. The hobby made three passes and each time the alarm calls sounded. The Swifts responded by climbing higher. When they came back one was larger and sure enough an alpine!
A second short tief eagle but this one struck me as a migratory - early if the case...
What a great way to spend a couple of hours over a picnic...
I spent 15 minutes trying to get onto a flock of Buntings they kept dissappearing into and behind someones hedge. I also felt very conscious that I looking into someones garden! In the end they were put down as sp but I think they were Ortolan. The candidates are Ortolan or Cirl but the seemed to have well marked backs and light - I only kept getting glimpses of their backs - not to worry.
Anyway, this was followed by a Black Shouldered Kite diving on something by the road. It flew up and landed on the wires with a mouse of sorts. I tried to get a picture but it took off and landed further away. This went on for about 5 minutes but I couldn't get the picture of it eating!!!
The airport was really quiet but did see one Crested Lark. Finally after a bit of twisting and turning a Woodchat Shrike Juv. Really struggle to believe they don't breed somewhere here because they are so regular - spring, autumn latest May earliest mid July...
The military camp was occupied so some more tooing and froing. Only to find some Backed Shrikes and not a lot else. Ended up at the lake at Argeles to find some Yellow Wagtails. Booted Eagle overhead and numerous Buzzards, Flycatchers and a Redstart....
All day the commonest bird seemed to be Whinchat - probably just most visible.
Love the shrike on the post, really envious as this autumn's visit has given way to a wedding (Grrr). Still, something to look forward to in the spring of next year then perhaps I'll get a shot of the kite in flight like yours.
Set off in search of the wallcreeper, An easy 20 minutes walk but the weather wasn’t kind. On the way a late rock thrush and a couple of dippers - one floating in a small mountain lake.
The wallcreeper was the only one that missed our morning rendezvous! 30 minutes in the pouring rain was enough so we set off back to the car. The rain stopped and the sun began reflecting off the damp mountainsides. Keeping an eye of the river and a flicker of movement, there was the wallcreeper. It showed up and down a small cliff by a small waterfall - great!
As the weather began to improve some alpine choughs overhead and then bizarrely a grey heron! The dippers played in the stream and then a golden eagle overhead. One turned into three - I couldn’t work out the phase of the first but the other two were adults - on checking it was two going into three.
Finally on the way down the mountain a lammergeier!!! A pretty fantastic morning.
The afternoon failed to produce black woodpecker but at least a crested tit lifted spirits.
Great day in great company rounded off with a couple of beers...
Summer season finally over and pretty tired! The weekend fete was hectic. 16 hours straight on Saturday followed by a couple of beers in town!
Anyway, flying visit to Portugal and of course a trip to the airport. Couple of black shouldered kites, a female harrier. Now typically in the panic of trying to get off the road i didn’t actually get much time to assess it so I’ll leave it as sp. A late red backed shrike finished the entertainment.
Onto Portugal and a couple of hours on the Tagus. Got some directions in April to Azure Winged Magpie (didn’t have time to pass in April but thought I’d try today). South of the estuary was nice to see flamingos and tons of waders. With limited optics, lack of book, and time most we left as waders but there were curlew, avocet, little egrets, ringed plovers, Dublin, I think a lone sanderling (worrying because i usually see them in groups), two spoonbill and a Caspian tern. A lone birder said that they had never seen azure winged magpie there but I tried anyway.
After a bit of searching found a small group then a second group 10-12 birds in total - result! Then 4 hoopoe and some bits and pieces st treecreeper etc
The day started with some Sardinian Warblers buzzing away and some brief sightings. Then a fly by Goshawk, Juvinile – my favorite all time bird.
I heard a Rock Sparrow last night but I couldn’t find them to see nor this morning.
However, while wandering around I saw a Booted Eagle and a distant Peregrine with a couple of Buzzards. Then a Short Toead Eagle which hung around for a good 5 minutes hunting by the radio aerial and fairly close to the wind turbines. To round off the raptors two Kestrels!
Ps I had a very brief view of three hirundells species – I’m pretty sure they were Red Rumped Swallow – because I got some orange tinged rumps but the view was brief!
Back out on the local patch with a couple of friends.
Cold over night and headed to Argeles for some migrant action. A bit of work required but paid off with lots of finches and small birds - Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Siskin, Serin, Brambling etc etc if etc is possible. Flocks and flocks - some easy to call and others in the light and movement tricky!
Great to see such numbers and a good call for the morning.
Headed up the Soulor - but in fairness it was cold: 7°c but determination provided some cracking birds. A distant Golden Eagle, Griffon Vultures etc, a couple of Alpine Chough playing on the cliffs and finally a glimpse of a Wallcreeper!! Sadly only brief views and only 2 of the 3 of us saw it but a Wallcreeper none the less.
Time to move on and a flyby Lammergeier head height, followed by a second. Fantastic. Back in the car and then straight out as a Golden Eagle flew past at head height and then a second and then a third!
Woodlark - 2
About 20 Swallows
1 House Martin
2 Cirl Bunting
I was super happy walking around the fields and trying to hone my 'call' skills on the various birds all mixed in. A Peregrine was out looking for a nice meal and a few Red Kites looked to be migrating...
This was actually the second Lammergeier because I wasn't primed with the camera!
One of the Golden Eagles had white patches like the Gavarnie bird. It struck me as odd that it would venture that far through maybe two or three territories to get to the Soulor. I know its making territories time but hadn't considered they would wander that far - interesting even if not ground breaking - maybe it wants a holiday in Spain...
Wallcreeper is a fascinating bird. Considering the size of the cliff where did it go? We watched it fly half way across the cliff until hidden by an outcrop - one person stayed and two of us went along the length of the cliff - nothing! The bird just evaporated and this happens quite often - adds to the allure I guess...
Amazing to have such diverse habitat within a stones throw - the marsh land, estuary, cork woods, sea watching, old woods and as Simon says on an id post 1 million chiffchaffs!
Decided to do the loop Porto-Alto, Alcochete, Punta Vasca de Gamma. Failed at the northern end because the reserve is closed. I was too nervous to 'walk it' as I have no idea how strict they are about this restricted access area. Found a dirt track with open gate and paddy fields - on a more determined day I would have snooped around here. Anyway, I got the feeling I could easily have explored here most of the day I think searching for bustards and harriers anything really but language and access were the main barrier.
So instead we headed to Pancas - in my where to watch birds in Spain and Portugal this is noted as the spot for Black Shouldered Kite - it was I should say it still is - my reference guide has to be nearly 30 years old as its pre-bridge! I also found a small party of Azure Winged Magpies here so great stop.
Round to the estuary and where we had visited before. The tide was out and the little brown blobs on the mudflats beyond my capability. In this wind and my travel scope and no tripod - I decided not to risk it at the eleventh hour on the plane! I could see plenty of Avocet, Grey plover, some spoonbills but didn't hang around other than to get some info from a reserve warden who was cleaning his car. He spoke very good english and was very helpful. He confirmed that the reserve/restricted area is closed on Mondays! But there was an information centre we could visit in Alcochete which we did - there was no where there so I took pictures of the maps for my next visit. He also directed us to some saltpans which would have been good had the tide been in and the birds taken refuge here...
Do you get the gist of my day? Ok I found a lifer! I'm not 100% sure whether I'm allowed to tick said lifer but a lifer none the less. A Crested Myna sat on a horse. These are an established population and I probably ticked dodgy-er birds so tick.
The Saltflats held a few bits and pieces like Shovelor, Black Winged Stilts, Avocet, Redshank, Common Sand and seaward three Sanderling. Looking forward to revisiting with a bit more time and not in a gale.
The main roads around the estuary are great but there were very few places to pull off and birdwatch and a fairly constant stream of lorries. We ended up eating in the freeport shopping area which was handy but Alcochete actually looked allright as another option. The supermarket was stocked with cheap wine and some great offers - 16€ reduced to 4.50! It was pretty decent.
Anyway back to the birds some pictures attached including a very white tummied Meadow pipit - Portugal is also home to a million of them at this time of year...