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kb57's 2024 Year List (1 Viewer)

May 28: Santa Luzia, Tavira
Evening visit just after sunset to catch up with two crepuscular species - nice flight view of a red-necked nightjar silhouetted against the evening sky, reminding me how big they are compared to common nightjar - and a little owl on a wire. Haven't done any birding since my Castro Verde trip, but very happy to reach 180 before 5 months are out...a few more work commitments coming up, and it's going to get a little harder to add new species.

179. Red-necked Nightjar
180. Little Owl
 
May 29: Lagoa de Aldeia Nova, VRSA
Every time I've been to this site this year I've heard Iberian green woodpeckers calling, without setting eyes on any. On a hot afternoon the pinewoods were quiet, but I finally saw a pair flying through the trees, one of which landed on the side of a pine tree long enough for a decent view. Just like the number 52 bus when I used to live in London years ago, you wait ages then three come along at once - the third, a flight view across the lake.
A western swamphen, an Iberian magpie and a couple of hoopoes made for a satisfying hour or so, and I got a better view of what I'm sure was the same Aythya hybrid I saw earlier in the year - a ferruginous duck- coloured female common pochard would be the best way to describe it - unfortunately I didn't have my camera today.

181. Iberian Green Woodpecker
 
Nice. One of the few birds on my heard only list and the only European woodpecker I still need. Really want to make an effort for it soon
 
June 02: Tavira
Finally some unequivocal pallid swifts this year - four in a narrow street giving excellent views. We'd taken binoculars down to the town partly in the expectation of some swifts to sort through, but with close flypast views they weren't needed.

182. Pallid Swift
 
Nice. One of the few birds on my heard only list and the only European woodpecker I still need. Really want to make an effort for it soon
I've still not seen white-backed or three-toed - not seen Syrian since 1973, and my last LSW was with a winter tit flock in the Derwent Valley, Co. Durham in about 2002, where I very much doubt they still occur.
Iberian green can be really easy here (like the juvenile I saw from my apartment last year) but also very frustrating when its calling from somewhere in a coastal pinewood - I wouldn't say it was a nailed-on certainty here for that reason.
 
Jun 04: Salinas do Forte do Rato, Tavira
Met a friendly English birder the other day who gave me more specific directions to the stone curlews. Would've liked to have gone out first thing, but had a work Teams meeting, so had a late afternoon / early evening session instead - unfortunately couldn't stay too late though...
No luck with the stone curlews, but a very enjoyable time summer salt pan birding, with Iberian yellow wagtails, probable breeding redshank, definite breeding black-winged stilt, plus bee-eaters, Kentish plover and a few remaining greenshank and black-tailed godwit.
One new addition to the year list - a flock of about 10 common waxbills.

183. Common Waxbill
 

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Jun 13: near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire
Short work visit back to UK, and managed to catch up with a couple of species whilst out on site that are just passage migrants in the Algarve.

184. Sedge Warbler *
185. Sand Martin
 
Jun 20: Marismas del Odiel, Andalucia
It's less than an hours' drive from Tavira to the Odiel marshes visitor centre near Huelva, but I've never ventured over the border to do any birding before, unless you count getting the bus to Sevilla and doing some urban park birding, or catching the ferry from VRSA to Ayamonte for lunch.
Latterly I've been confined to Portugal anyway, as the A4 printed document I was issued in Portuguese to prove I have a valid licence apparently doesn't impress Spanish traffic cops. My actual licence arrived in the post this week, so I headed off to plug a pratincole-shaped hole in my year and life lists.
Now there are pratincoles in the Algarve - a few recent records on saltpans between Olhâo and Faro, and in the interior of the Castro Marim pans..but these related to one or two individuals, and I guess it would've been more satisfying to find these - but given recent reports of 100 at Odiel, I reckoned I stood less chance of disappointment if I headed a bit further east.
I started at the Anastasio Senra visitor's centre car park and checked out a few of the trails from there - big industrial saltpans with big flocks of flamingos, flocks of dunlin and grey plover on the shoreline, a purple heron in the 'traditional' pans...and best of all, osprey breeding on a nesting platform - I'd missed out on the local birds last winter, so a bonus year tick.
I then drove to the furthest beach car park I could, and started on the long walk down towards the lighthouse - I'd only gone a very short distance when I saw my first pratincole on the concrete road, no far from some fishermen. Further on I found the main breeding area, amidst 100s of little terns and some Kentish plover. A large mixed gull / tern flock loafing on an undisturbed bit of beach held about 150 Audouin's, plus Sandwich and common terns - I carefully searched through the larger terns to see if the recently reported lesser crested tern was around, but without any luck. A flock of over 40 whimbrel were also feeding in the shallows.
Closer to the lighthouse, I did a kind of half-hearted sea-watch, clambering onto the coastal defences. Although there was a fresh onshore wind and the chance of shearwaters and storm-petrels, by this stage I was TBH knackered, and after 15 minutes of nothing but little and Sandwich terns I was keen to head back. Highlight of my walk back was a slightly out of focus shot of a greater short-toed lark...my health app was showing 22k steps by the time I got back to the car, after a mostly sessile week working at the computer...well impressed with my first ever proper birding day out in Spain though!

186. Osprey
187. Collared Pratincole
 

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Jun 26: Mina de São Domingos, Mértola
Took myself off on a 2-day trip to hopefully track down some inland specialities. White-rumped swift was top of my wanted list, and I should've headed straight for the mine complex and the structure where they're most frequently seen, but tarried on the way at another thankless stakeout for black-bellied sandgrouse. Consequently it was 8am by the time I started the walk down through the vast quarry complex - a fascinating place by the way, irrespective of its avian interest. Little ringed plover on some open (copper-contaminated?) land gave me an early year list tick.
Lots of crag martins and (encouragingly) quite a few red-rumped swallows around, but only two swifts - both common. I did finally nail down some unequivocal Thekla's larks, giving me time to study plumage differences. I was also hoping for western black-eared wheatear, but drew a blank.

188. Little Ringed Plover *
189. Thekla's Lark

Jun 26: Barranco dos Alcaides, Corte Azinha, Mértola
Stopped at a largely dry river valley which was another WR swift eBird site - an apparently empty red-rumped swallow's nest under the bridge gave some cause for hope. The river was basically a series of pools now, and had good access from a little picnic site to do a little exploration. I was starting to get into my Thekla's / crested lark ID, and was clocking the slightly rufous rump of the former which flew onto a bush at the edge of the riverbed, when a considerably more rufous bird flew past, with black and white tipped tail...unfortunately it dived into a bush, and I was distracted by movement a couple of metres further up the slope which just turned out to be a hoopoe, so that was the full extent of my view.

190. Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

A fairly distant but clear view of golden orioles, a flypast kingfisher, and a blue rock thrush made this a worthwhile stop. I headed north towards Moura, with a couple of other stops that didn't produce any more additions - distant booted eagle, a half-decent photo of Spanish sparrow, and a flock of jackdaws (yes, really!) were the highlights, before I settled down to watch Georgia beating Portugal whilst stuffing myself with porco preto in a little restaurant in Amareleja.
A few pics of crag martins at the mine complex; spot the golden oriole (easy for once) at Barranco dos Alcaides; and my Spanish sparrow at a reservoir near Moura.
 

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Jun 27: Castelo do Noudar, Barrancos
Skipped breakfast at my hotel in Amareleja and headed out to check out two river valleys - Rio Ardila south-east of the village (no access to the river) and Ribeira de Murteiga north of Barrancos (excellent site with good access along and above the river). Neither produced any of my hoped-for target species, so I pressed on carefully along a 10km unsurfaced road to Noudar Castle, a very remote area on the Spanish border.
As soon as I got there I had a group of 7 griffon vultures passing low over the castle heading west, then a bigger group of vultures - I thought I had cinereous, then discounted the possibility because of pale markings on underwing coverts. Thankfully I got photos, and BF ID forum was able to confirm my mistake. Once up on the ramparts, I was able to see where they were heading - a distant kettle of about 35 vultures circling to the west, probably within Spain where animal carcasses can be left in the fields.
I was back at my car on the little col just to the east of the castle and about to pack up to drive to the start of a trail to the river, when two long-tailed, black-capped birds flew over making disyllabic contact calls. The default setting for long-tailed black-capped birds here is Iberian magpie, so it didn't elicit an immediate response from me, but a second later I clocked that the call was unfamiliar and they weren't actually magpies...as they dropped down to the south I got a view of speckled upperwing, then they were gone. I was very much wishing I'd still been on the ramparts at the time, for a longer view - like the scrub robin, all too brief but unmistakeable. I'm guessing (because they were dark-capped) they were juvenile or first summer birds - I'd written them off from this year's year list, as I supposed the adults had long gone.

191. Cinereous Vulture
192. Great Spotted Cuckoo

A walk down to the river failed to produce any additions, although a flypast turtle dove and a confiding newly-fledged woodchat shrike were good additions to my newly-started Barrancos concelho list.
 

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Some cracking ticks there.
Thanks, I know, and a couple of enjoyable days birding to....yet I was left feeling strangely unsatisfied - I was really hoping for WR swift and western black-eared wheatear at the mine or nearby sites, as well as some species which wouldn't have been lifers, just good year list ticks - black stork in the Noudar area, western Subalpine warbler, rock bunting. And maybe I was being greedy to hope for better views and photographs of the scrub robin and GS cuckoos!
 
Jul 04: Gateshead on Tyne
Back in NE England for a while, and ticking off kittiwake nesting on the Baltic Arts Centre on the way to and from a Nils Frahm concert at the Glasshouse (formerly known as the Sage). Good concert too!

193. Black-legged Kittiwake
 

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