Monday, 7 March 2016

Final day - Castro Verde area

My favourite and last day. Today we headed to the Castro Verde area north of the Algarve. A couple of stops on the way up there got us Lesser Kestrel, Spotless Starling and Long-tailed Tit which was different to ours as it was darker. With the usual species being seen on the journey we made our way up onto a mountain where a chapel has been built. The mountain itself was littered with Red-legged Partridge, which are supposed to be there. Southern grey Shrike showed well and Swallows, House Martins and a Sand Martin all flew through. Dunnock and Dartford Warbler were good birds to add to the list while distant Raven and Short-toed Eagle were also seen. The wind had picked up but Golden and Bonelli's Eagle showed, the Bonelli's more distant than the Golden.
Finally added Woodpigeon for the trip as it is more common up north than in the Algarve. White Stork and Corn Bunting seemed to be the most numerous although Southern shrike seem to be on every wire that we went passed. At a stop overlooking a river Zitting Cisticola,Grey Heron, Mallard and a hunting Hen Harrier showed.

One of the many Shrikes on wires.

An area of water that we stopped at produced Little ringed Plover, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Lapwing and White Wagtail. Stock Dove was added then a large flock of lekking Great Bustard. Too far away for a brilliant shot but did get a shot.

The next site was one of my favourites. An abandoned building which had lots of Lesser Kestrels and a Little Owl in. Only 2 Cranes from the winter were still in the fields, one of my favourite raptors Black-shouldered Kite did a fly through. As we were leaving a Spanish Imperial Eagle drifted right over our heads showing amazing views.

Crane was also a long way off.

There had been a Long-eared Owl in the middle of a nearby town all winter so we went to look for that and found it easily as it watched us very closely from it's perch.

We then did a few different sites looking for the other specialities in the area. A massive flock of Corn Bunting had Goldfinch and Calandra Lark mixed in with them. Little Bustard was found as it flew across a field and landed in sight, Black-bellied Sandgrouse eventually flew up and showed itself well. The Sandgrouse landed within view of the scope, but within a minute they could no longer been seen even though you knew where they landed.
Before we left the area Spanish Sparrow was found and that was the last bird of note we saw.

I made it 127 species for the trip, which I think is great. Really enjoyed it, and thanks to my guide sampled some local food. 

That evening I went to a local restaurant and had as a starter Melon and Proscuitto which is very popular, I enjoyed both but both together didn't really do it for me. The main dish was Portugese style steak. This also had Proscuitto on it and was very nice indeed, the middle of the steak was medium rare which isn't how I usually have my steaks but I did enjoy it. 

11 new birds for me and plenty of birds only seen for the 2nd time. Now off to try and organise a day trip while on the family holiday.

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