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Nothing to C here (Portugal 11/2021) (1 Viewer)

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
I have invented the title after a long and fruitless day of searching for the cat. C birds in Portugal - later on, we did actually score 3 out of the 5 targets, but despite my wife’s best efforts in coming up with dozens of updated C-based puns, I still like this one the best, so you will have to deal with it. This whole thing is obviously inspired by Paul Chapman’s great article "Last chance to C" from the Big Year WP site, which seems to have gone dark recently though, so I can't link it here - if you ever find it, read it, it's fun!

We traveled for 10 days through Spain and Portugal, doing a 3000-km circuit from Madrid through Lisbon and Faro and back to Madrid, to a large extent focusing on mammals and herps, as the only reasonably expected new birds for us in the whole area are the cat. Cs, which I always shunned a bit as kinda plastic. Nevertheless, once we started looking for them, I got instantly hooked on the game and we spent several days doing so at the end, purely because it was a good adventure.

According to Lista de espécies - categoria C there are 10 pure cat. C birds in Portugal, out of which we already had 4 (and somewhat skipped thinking about a fifth one - Ruddy Duck), so we had five targets - Scaly-breasted Munia, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-Crowned Bishop, Pin-tailed Whydah and Crested Myna; we got the first three and missed the last two. There also used to be Tricolored Munia, but I believe they are now extinct. Despite the common prejudice that those are “easy birds in a park”, none of the five targets seemed to be anywhere close to “easy”. We looked up sightings on eBird and looking at the map, they look quite numerous, but most of the birds are really nomadic and if you click at the hotspots you see that most places have just a few observations over many years.

We started north of Santarem, around the Paul do Boquilobo reserve, where the Whydah and Weaver looked promising, but neither in the reserve, nor at any other sites of recent eBird sightings around did we find anything. That notwithstanding, the Paul is really beautiful and we do not regret having spent the better part of the day there - and an evening visit of the Patudos dam in Apliarca did after all produce a single Scaly-breasted Munia in the reeds at the far end of the lake, moving in to overnight with a huge flock of Common Waxbills (which were generally one of the most common birds anywhere we went in Portugal, but not among the targets).

Giving up on this area meant giving up on the Whydahs, because they only occur there and more to the north, but we didn’t have infinite time, so we drove over to the Tejo delta. We saw the first Yellow-Crowned Bishop along the access road to EVOA in the agricultural land north of the estuary (which is gated, but the road to EVOA is open) and then a huge flock in reeds along the road to Barroca d’Alva. That area is well known for the Weavers, but neither there, nor in Paul do Rilvas a little bit to the south did we find any - according to my online friend who has seen one in Rilvas a few days before us, they have become really rare there.

And then came the Mynas, or rather did not come, but the day of searching for them was quite crazy. Encouraged by the absolute forest of sightings on the eBird map, we started trawling the southern cost of the estuary. We tried Riberia das Enguias, the abandoned northern part of Siderugia Nacional in Seixal, the municipal park in Seixal, Parque da Paz in Barrocas, a specific location of observations near the Caparica Sun Centre roundabout, Praia Trafaria, the Alpena hill, the municipal park in Caparica and Caparica beaches, but we found absolutely no Mynas, in one of the greatest dip of our lives. So we jumped into the car and drove all the way to Faro, where we found a flock of Black-headed Weavers at the grass of the San Lorenzo golf course, in the last light of the day, just before they disappeared in the reeds of the lake around 37.0318, -8.0110.

Overall, the landscape of central Portugal is quite nice. The ever-present Common Waxbills and the occasional Yellow-Crowned Bishop give the area a fine exotic touch. On the other hand, the searches for the Mynas and Whydahs in mostly urban settings wasn’t an experience I would be too keen to repeat any time soon. The most frustrating thing however is how difficult it is to move around Portugal - the country really needs to be educated in concepts such as “a bypass”, because even main roads are absurdly slow as they spend most of their lengths in narrow villages. You always look at the map, see a site 20 kms away as the Myna flies and then Google tells you it’s an hour away … Yes, they have highways, but not too dense of a network and moreover some of them can be paid for only through a complex maze of wireless boxes and prepaid cards that nobody who just spends a few days there is in the mood to sort out. On the other hand, the herping was quite stellar in some places, so they have that going on for them.
 

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Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Out of curiosity, how "established" does a bird population need to be to end up on the Category C list? I sometimes get the feeling that Europe is maybe a bit more liberal than most US states on adding birds to checklists. Also how did you do on herps/mammals?

I will be doing a "plastic" run of my own in California in January, but I should also at least get a few new native species. Pin-tailed Whydah is one of the targets there as well. They have really taken off thanks to exploding munia numbers in Southern California, and have expanded recently from L.A. already into San Diego. I expect they and Swinhoe's White-eye will be officially added pretty soon to the ABA checklist.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
It's very different between different countries with Germany recently going off the rails in the opposite direction, removing even Ural owl because it's reintroduced. Portugal is quite liberal, that's why they are such a good destination for those :) Most places require a few generations of wild birds as a general rule, but details differ.

Mammals: Spanish Ibex, Fallow Deer, Red Deer, Fox, Egyptian Mongoose, Garden Dormouse, Wood Mouse, Lusitanian Pine Vole, Algerian Mouse, Brown Rat, Rabbit, Spanish Hare, Wild Boar, Myotis myotis, Daubenton's Bat.

Herps: Geniez's Wall Lizard, Moorish Gecko, Large Psamodrommus, Pygmy Marbled Newt, Iberian Ribbed Newt, Spiny Toad, Natterjack Toad, Perez's Water Frog, larvae probably of Iberian Spadefoot and acoustic only for Lusitanian and Iberian Parsley Frogs.
 
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wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
I once considered going to Portugal for the Whydah's, they look quite a spectacular species.
Good effort Jan.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
To be honest, I have seen the Whydah in Africa (and the Munia in Asia and California, and the Myna in Kuwait - which is even WP, but it doesn't count there yet as it is not established), so this was mainly a WP listing fun activity. At least both the Bishop and Weaver were actually lifers :)

Also I did not mention it, but the golf course in Faro has one more fantastic bird attraction - tame Barn Owls. We saw two during a night walk around the course and they let us come to a few meters from the trees they sat on, which is a very different experience from what you get around here.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Well, well, well ...

Clearly it's my mistake and I should apologize, but y'all should also feel bad that nobody noticed it. The "Scaly-breasted Munia" is actually a juvenile Pin-tailed Whydah! I can't edit the post anymore, so my shame here will be eternalized ... I had no idea the juveniles are SO different from the adults and look SO much like the Munias, a bird from a different continent! But when you know what you are looking for, the difference in bill shape is huge.

The story is still the same 3/5 birds and we saw the bird after we finished looking for the Whydahs, so we didn't even loose any time by this mistake, but we could have looked for the Munias in the Tejo delta, had we known we are still missing them!!!
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
IIRC, Scaly-breasted Munias are the major host species for Whydahs in California (even though they don't overlap in their native ranges). So I guess it makes sense that they would use that species if they already sort of look like them.
 

Bismarck Honeyeater

Barely known member
Thanks for the kind mention of the article. I found it here:-


I have about 17 Category C holes on my WP list with several as close as the Netherlands. Probably going to address those next year but as I reckon I sit at 799 on an IOC basis, it might be nice to avoid my 800th being one of those exotics.

All the best

Paul
Are you aware of any Cat C birds on Madeira? I know about Waxbill, though I haven’t seen them for about 40 years. Might as well get what I can whilst I’m out there next year.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I have about 17 Category C holes on my WP list with several as close as the Netherlands. Probably going to address those next year but as I reckon I sit at 799 on an IOC basis, it might be nice to avoid my 800th being one of those exotics.

All the best

Paul
I know the feeling...trying to cram the introduced ABA species into my list in 2022 on to avoid my ABA 700 being an exotic.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Thanks for the kind mention of the article. I found it here:-


I have about 17 Category C holes on my WP list with several as close as the Netherlands. Probably going to address those next year but as I reckon I sit at 799 on an IOC basis, it might be nice to avoid my 800th being one of those exotics.

All the best

Paul

That is one impressive WP list. You would be first in the Czech Republic by over 200 species (as you can typically check from my signature :)).

Cs are weird, your article is actually the major reason why I started doing them. I dunno, I just have an easier time accepting things when someone makes them sound good :)
 

Paul Chapman

Well-known member
Are you aware of any Cat C birds on Madeira? I know about Waxbill, though I haven’t seen them for about 40 years. Might as well get what I can whilst I’m out there next year.

Just Waxbills as far as I know. Plenty of Muscovies around though even if not considered Category C.

Have fun with the seabirds.


All the best

Paul
 

James Lowther

Well-known member
Paul,
Do you know of any cat C species on fuerteventura apart from Barbary partridge?
In particular, is Muscovy duck tickable here? - there’s a big free flying colony at puertito de los molinos.

Sorry to hijack!

James
 

Bismarck Honeyeater

Barely known member
Paul,
Do you know of any cat C species on fuerteventura apart from Barbary partridge?
In particular, is Muscovy duck tickable here? - there’s a big free flying colony at puertito de los molinos.

Sorry to hijack!

James
Sacred Ibis, a Bulbul (I forget which), Monk Parakeet. I don’t think the Hadada Ibis are C, also I’m not sure if the Partridge is A or C
 

James Lowther

Well-known member
In case anyone cares,
SEO official Spanish list
includes the following cat C species for the Canaries:-
Barbary Partridge
Red-legged Partridge
Monk Parakeet
Ring-necked Parakeet
Common Waxbill

And....

MUSCOVY DUCK!!!!

Which means I suppose that I get a rather shabby feeling WP tick.
Luckily I have seen wild birds in Belize so I don’t need to agonise over whether to add these guys
https://flic.kr/p/bV71FU to my life list

Nanday Parakeet and Red-vented Bulbul are class E1 (exotic species with breeding populations that may soon become self-sustaining) so not currently tickable I guess.

Hadada and Sacred Ibis are not mentioned on the list for the Canaries while African Collared Dove is considered no longer self-sustaining.

Cheers,
James
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
In case anyone cares,
SEO official Spanish list
includes the following cat C species for the Canaries:-
Barbary Partridge
Red-legged Partridge
Monk Parakeet
Ring-necked Parakeet
Common Waxbill

And....

MUSCOVY DUCK!!!!

Which means I suppose that I get a rather shabby feeling WP tick.
Luckily I have seen wild birds in Belize so I don’t need to agonise over whether to add these guys
https://flic.kr/p/bV71FU to my life list

Nanday Parakeet and Red-vented Bulbul are class E1 (exotic species with breeding populations that may soon become self-sustaining) so not currently tickable I guess.

Hadada and Sacred Ibis are not mentioned on the list for the Canaries while African Collared Dove is considered no longer self-sustaining.

Cheers,
James
Hmm So no Barbary partridge in the canaries are native. I thought they were on some islands. BoW says Tenerife is an older presence
 

James Lowther

Well-known member
Do we know when ACD becaome no longer good on Canaries? Obsevrations before that should be fine :)
I think they were removed from that edition of the checklist in 2019.

However the checklist states that
“[amongst the species removed was] Streptopelia roseogrisea, considering that this species never really established itself. Although it was close to it in the city of Valencia and in various parts of the Canary Islands, its population went into decline before this fact could be considered materialized. It is currently included in category E2.”

So a dubious tick pre 2019...
James
 

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