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kb57's 2024 Year List (3 Viewers)

Mar 16: Santa Luzia, Tavira
Only one addition to the year list over the past week - common swifts are back, unfortunately still trying to access their blocked up nest sites in the octopus market...

147. Common Swift
Is that a whole market for octopus and sea food or something more prosaic
It's a small wholesale fish market, pretty much all octopus with the odd fish I believe - it used to have a thriving swift colony until the building was repainted and the entry holes beneath the roof filled :(
Apr 11: Blagdon, Northumberland

I've not done any dedicated birding over the last few weeks - been to Paris and saw more short-toed treecreepers and rose-ringed parakeets, and just had a flyover sparrowhawk this morning at my partner's place near Newcastle, but no new year list additions. I was buying a birthday present at Blagdon estate shops, just north of Newcastle just now, and got a great view of a mistle thrush. A very vocal nuthatch in the woods too.

148. Mistle Thrush
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12 April: Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland

My first chance to visit the Northumberland coast on this short trip to UK, and decided on a walk to Beacon Point as there were a few potential year list additions on eBird. Unfortunately I had very little spare space in my bag on the way back to UK, as I had to fit in colder-weather clothing for our layover in Paris, and had left the telescope eyepiece behind. This was a problem when I couldn't scope the rocks or check very far out at sea, and the tide was quite far out on our afternoon visit - so no purple sandpipers or divers. Twite had been seen recently too, but the only finch flock we came across were common linnets. So only one addition, and it was an obvious one...

149. Common Eider
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16 April: Porto Carvalhoso, Tavira, Portugal

An unfortunately too brief trip back to Portugal, with a few admin things to sort out as I'm now a Portuguese tax resident, and a report to work on. Decided on a morning visit to pick up some inland species in the hills of Tavira concelho, about 20 minutes away from home. Nice area with water crowfoot-filled river holding a singing wren and a grey wagtail, as well as a late blackcap and crag martin. Taunted by a nightingale, my frustration shortly alleviated by an excellent view of my first woodchat shrike since about 1977 when I was travelling around Greece. Another even closer nightingale continued the frustration, distracted this time by my first Portuguese Dartford warbler, and a brief flight view of a male golden oriole which had been calling from a eucalyptus. Had a great view of a blue rock thrush on my return to the car, then saw a largish relatively long-tailed bird fly catching (or song-flighting?) which landed near the top of a tall olive. Got the binoculars on it to confirm a black hooded Sylviid, but too far away to absolutely confirm it wasn't just a Sardinian. Behaviour totally off for the latter, so I think it was Western Orphean warbler, which is recorded occasionally in this area.

Common Nightingale (heard-only)
150. Woodchat Shrike *
151. Dartford Warbler *
152. European Golden Oriole
153. Blue Rock Thrush
Western Orphean Warbler? (recorded on eBird as Sylvia / Curruca sp.)

I've got a photo of the shrike, once I find my SD card reader...here's my iPhone pic of the water crowfoot beds...


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Apr 18, Parque Ambiental, Vilamoura

I needed to go to Faro to sort something out with my car, so I thought I might as well travel a little further still and check out the wetlands and fields of the Parque Ambiental - my second visit to this site. Just like last time, I was soon being taunted by Cetti's warblers, with the addition now of nightingales and reed warblers. Some compensation was provided by a group of male black-headed weavers displaying by their nests, then I managed a great view of a nightingale singing from a branch of a low fig tree right by the path - first I've actually seen for decades!
Waterfowl numbers from the east hide were predictably down on my last visit, just a few common pochard and a ferruginous duck - but a close flypast of a little bittern provided ample compensation.
The route to the western hide goes past a really flower-rich meadow with crested larks, butterflies, and at least two calling quail. There was a nice view of a swamp hen from the hide and a little bittern was barking, but best of all for me was a Cetti's warbler in plain sight singing from a bush in the reeds near the hide - finally on my year list! Unfortunately it flew just as I was about to take a photo...
I've still got an appalling failure rate with seeing Cetti's warblers this year, but I managed 40-50% of today's nightingales (4-5 territories...) with an excellent close view of a different bird on the way back from the hide. My first red-rumped swallow of the year completed a satisfying afternoon. A purple heron and a sight of a reed warbler would've been nice, but not complaining!

Common Reed Warbler (heard only)
154. Common Nightingale *
155. Cetti's Warbler
156. Red-rumped Swallow
Hi kb57,

I sent you a private message about a guide you recommended in Jardin, Colombia that I am thinking about using. Let me know if you didn't get it. Thanks!
Apr 24: Heraklion, Crete
A non-birding trip which was originally scheduled for 2022, and was going to be an autumn break on the coast - flights postponed twice for different reasons, and we ended up having a city break doing tourist stuff.
A very sparse bird list somehow managed to involve two lifers on the first day in the city - the first, Italian sparrows in a car park by the city walls; the second, two distant Calonectris shearwaters viewed from the harbour breakwater in a strong onshore wind. Based on location they had to be Scopoli's, but it was hardly a satisfactory view - and if they get lumped on IOC as well as Clements it'll be a temporary life tick. If I hadn't been to Ireland this year, I'd have been happy about the hooded crows too

157. Italian Sparrow
158. Scopoli's Shearwater

Apr 25: Almyros River Spring, near Heraklion
Our only birding trip of the break was at the end of the city bus route, at a somewhat uninspiring reed-fringed river mouth. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler had been seen and photographed recently, but the most notable sighting for us was another good view of a Cetti's warbler.

Apr 28: Road to Rethymno
Took an interurban bus to Rethymno for more tourist stuff, and had a brief view from the window of what was almost certainly a griffon vulture - not a countable view though - must try harder for this species in the Alentejo or Andalucia!
May 07: Weetslade, North Tyneside
Back in UK and catching up with a couple of local species which will be difficult in the Algarve - estimated 7 willow warbler territories, and got a couple of good views of singing birds, plus an excellent view of a whitethroat. No such luck with the 2 reed warblers, while the Cetti's warbler called before I got to the site, loudly enough for me to hear it half a field away, then again just after I left - I could swear it was watching me arrive and leave!
I had Merlin running and had a few interesting mis-identifications:
Common sandpiper = skylark and willow warbler singing at the same time
Lesser whitethroat call = yellowhammer call
Common snipe = reed warbler (first couple of phrases as it was starting to sing)

159. Common Whitethroat
160. Willow Warbler

May 08: Hamsterley Mill, Co. Durham
Had to get the bus to Consett as I couldn't borrow the car - sitting on the top deck of what I must admit was a very comfortable bus, got a great view of a fox crossing a pasture next to the road.

06. Red Fox *
May 13: Castro Marim, Portugal
My first visit to the saltpans and saltmarshes around the derelict-looking visitor centre for about 10 years, on a grey and rainy October day which contrasted with the 26C and sunshine today. I'd had a morning stroll around Lagoa de Aldeia Nova followed by a beach cafe coffee - quieter than earlier in spring - looking like the red-knobbed coot may have finally left.
I focussed on the saltmarsh south of the centre, and eventually had my target species in a song-flight, with another flight-calling past me. I needed Aves Vox to confirm ID, after Merlin suggested greater short-toed lark - it helps that I can stream sound files to my hearing aids then switch off and compare to the real thing, with no risk of disturbance. A bonus year list tick flew over in the form of a pale-phase booted eagle, not seen for a few years although not uncommon in the Algarve. I left earlier than I'd have liked though - I had a meeting back in Tavira this afternoon, looked at my phone and was surprised I'd spent so long on the saltmarsh searching for larks, and hurried back to the car. Westbound on the A22 autoroute, I got my missing hour back, caused by my phone syncing with Spanish time :rolleyes:- I didn't get a 'welcome to Spain' message from either SIM card, so I guess it was the phone's GPS which had caused the problem.
On the way out of the reserve, I had a mammalian lifer in the form of a slender Iberian hare on the access road - possibly stunned or poorly, it was reluctant to get out of the way.

161. Mediterranean Short-toed Lark
162. Booted Eagle *

07. Iberian Hare
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May 14: Salinas do Forte do Rato, Tavira
Early evening visit to my local saltpans, with two year list targets in mind, which duly obliged. Still a few waders around - as well as the resident avocets, black-winged stilts and Kentish plover, I also recorded turnstone, dunlin, redshank, greenshank, whimbrel and bar-tailed godwit.

163. Little Tern
164. Western Yellow Wagtail (ssp. iberiae)

I've now equalled my admittedly unimpressive 2023 year list, so my EU / UK target of at least 200 by mid-November is looking achievable. More importantly, it represents the fact that so far I've achieved a better work-life balance, and got out birding quite a bit more.

Photos show a nice summer plumage bar-tailed godwit, one of a group of 5 on the foreshore, and a Kentish plover on the saltpans


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May 15: Serra do Caldeirão, Algarve
Decided to devote a day to exploring some sites in the hills of the eastern Algarve, with a few targets in mind for both year and life lists, as well as the more prosaic pursuit of filling in another concelho on my eBird map. I visited 3 sites in São Bras de Alportel area, and a final one in Tavira.
The first area, Juncais, is another locality for western Orphean warbler - a pleasant walk along a valley with olives and holm oaks with a decent amount of bird activity, but the only addition to the year list was a flyover raven.
The next site, Ribeira de Alportel, is a marked trail along a stream valley, with slightly faded notice boards explaining the local wildlife. I thought I'd struck lucky as soon as I parked the car, with a melodious warbler singing in a nearby narrow-leaved ash tree, but it refused to give up more than an uncountable glimpse of itself. The second singing bird proved even more elusive, despite once again being localised to a single small tree. I struck lucky with melodious warbler number 3, patience paying off as it eventually showed itself, giving excellent views. I wasn't having much luck with woodlarks either - in fact I've never had any luck with woodlarks before, but that changed when I noticed a bird quietly foraging in the sparsely vegetated base of an olive tree. Lifer number 3, Iberian chiffchaff, also made me wait, eventually showing on the dead bare branches of a large ash - although arguably the song was the main experience here.
Site 3, Javali, has a bit more of an upland character with cork oaks, and has an 'ornithological trail' through the village - illustrated with a drawing of a cardinal on the main notice board :rolleyes:...this was a bit of a disappointment, only alleviated by a flypast male golden oriole.
After a coffee stop in Barranco de Velha, my final site was the cork oak woodlands near Feiteira, a lovely site with bracken and foxgloves reminiscent of Northumberland (obviously without the cork oaks...). No new year list species until just before the end, but some great views of crested tit, wren, nuthatch and short-toed treecreeper - all of which were boosting my Tavira concelho list...what has eBird done to me??!! The final year list addition waited until I was almost back at the car - an unobtrusive male common redstart.
The drive back to Tavira on the minor road via Cachopo was winding, but devoid of traffic, and included a flypast female golden oriole.

165. Northern Raven
166. Melodious Warbler
167. Woodlark
168. Iberian Chiffchaff
169. Common Redstart *


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You can’t fault a three lifer day. Sound like a great day out
It wasn't bad! All three at one site too - I'm just left slightly regretting I didn't connect with Western Orphean warbler, as that's a lot harder here than any of the three I saw today.
Yes. That's the one I haven't seen either but at least you don’t have to book a holiday to have a shot at it 😀
Yes. That's the one I haven't seen either but at least you don’t have to book a holiday to have a shot at it 😀
I think I might need to go to Spain one day to have more chance of connecting though...western olivaceous warbler is another which doesn't really get across the border, but should be relatively easy this side of Seville.
There's also spectacled warbler which I've never seen yet, and which was a possibility at Castro Marim the other day...and western Subalpine warbler, which I've seen once here on autumn migration at the coast, but which I could've got at some of the inland sites I visited.
I guess apart from when they’re fresh in they’re all quite difficult. The only one I have is subalpine and that was on passage
May 17: Castro Verde / northern Algarve
Last full day on my own with no work, so I thought I'd have another go at the steppe birds of the Castro Verde plains, after dipping the bustards and sandgrouse last time. I visited some of the same stakeouts (perhaps mistakenly!), albeit in a different order, and lucked out again - but just like in January, raptors and a few other species went a long way to alleviating any disappointment.

Decided on the quick but boring route to Castro Verde, taking the A22 west then the A2 north, to a stakeout I'd used last time. Some great views of displaying Calandra larks, then picked up a Montagu's harrier quartering the far side of a large field - it then started flying directly towards me, passing closely - a great start to the day!
Açude de Entradas
This small reservoir was good last time, but a morning visit provided much better lighting conditions. Calling quail, a white stork's nest with Spanish sparrow neighbours, a flock of cattle egrets put up by a marsh harrier, pair of great crested grebes, kingfisher...what could be better? Well, a singing flypast greater short-toed lark, and a purple heron appearing out of the emergent sedges, that's what!
Entradas - São Marcos de Ataboeira road
Found a good vantage point here with a signboard - again lucked out on bustards, although the crops are likely to make anything smaller than a great bustard difficult to pick out. Had a displaying greater short-toed lark here though. Kept a look out for rollers, as this road has a lot of records - by the time I arrived at São Marcos, I thought my chance had gone.
Rolão - Viseus area
My despondency about dipping rollers proved short-lived, after turning off the main N123 I soon saw the first of three on a roadside wire, and made my first attempt at a drive-by camera shooting on the quiet single track road. Common kestrel kept up the raptor count.
Viseus - Guerreiro road
Another of my January vantage points - quiet today, just a few crested larks around - then I had a black kite to the north, and a distant group of at least 5 griffon vultures to the south - light was good enough to unfortunately rule out any cinereous.
Filled up with petrol in Santa Barbara de Padrões, then headed east on a minor road, seeing a flock of 3 lesser kestrels. A decent vantage point near the village I'd found in January added bee-eaters to my year list - two scoped on a power line, before being chased off by an Iberian grey shrike.
Ribeira de Oeiras--ponte de São João dos Caldeireiros
A brief stop by a bridge produced a pair of turtle doves.
Ribeira do Vascão--Giões
My last stop, right on the border of the Algarve, failed to produce any new year list species, although Merlin reported Western Subalpine Warbler - it sounded right, and I thought I caught a glimpse of the bird, but didn't get enough for a positive ID. Almost as good as a new species though was my first Portuguese long-tailed tit - the dark subspecies irbii looks very different!

170. Montagu's Harrier *
171. Greater Short-toed Lark
172. Purple Heron *
173. European Roller
174. Black Kite *
175. Griffon Vulture
176. Lesser Kestrel
177. European Bee-eater
178. European Turtle Dove *
Long-tailed Tit (ssp. irbii)


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