Monday 30 May 2022

Southern Portugal - Part 2

Despite a broken nights sleep, I had set the alarm for 6am and we were up and on the road by 6.30am. We stopped briefly when Nick picked up a Great Spotted Cuckoo perched on the telegraph wires above a small olive grove. From there we pressed on to a spot we had for Great and Little Bustard, both of which we managed to see, albeit distantly. Two more lifers!

As the morning warmed up we headed for a small hill between Castro Verde and Mertola called Senhora de Aracelis. This afforded us nice views of the plains and as the air warmed up we hoped to pick up some soaring raptors lifting on thermals. The track up to this hill passed through open country side where we had plenty of Crested Lark, Corn Buntings and 'rubicola' Stonechats. We also had a female Western Black -eared Wheatear which was a long awaited lifer for me (although I still really wanted to come across a male bird) and a smart male Golden Oriole. 

View over the plains from Senhora de Aracelis

The chapel at Senhora de Aracelis

This powerful looking Short-toed Eagle watched over us as we drove up the hill to the small chapel.

Short-toed Eagle, Senhora do Aracelis

We picked up Booted and Bonelli's Eagles plus several distant Griffon Vultures and a Black (Cinereous) Vulture but no sign of either Golden Eagle or Spanish Imperial Eagle.

Black Vulture

Griffon Vulture

With not many raptors to keep us entertained (for what reasons we were not sure) we decided to move on. We followed a dirt track near Alvares that took us past a small reservoir where we had a single Gull-billed Tern and this Collared Pratincole that was taking no nonsense from a rodwy bunch of Little Ringed Plovers.

Little Ringed Plover & Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole

Our next stop was at the Information Centre for Ligue por Protection de Nature (LPN) near Entradas. We took a few wrongs tracks before finally reaching the Information Centre but at least this smart Bee-eater was a nice diversion whilst we figured out the map.

European Bee-eater

Not to mention the Corn Buntings and Stonechats.

At the Information Centre we watched a pair of Lesser Kestrels hunting in the surrounding fields.


Male Lesser Kestrel

Female Lesser Kestrel

Female Lesser Kestrel

Male Lesser Kestrel

LPN Information Centre

By now it was after 6pm, we had time for one more spot before we needed to head to the location we'd been given for Red-necked Nightjar. At that second last place we had lovely views of both male and female Montagu's Harrier. Hardly a more elegant bird of prey is there?

Male Montagu's Harrier


Then it was time to find our Red-necked Nightjar place, which we did. Unfortunately there were no singing birds but a female gave a very close fly-by and a Nightingale sang from deep cover.


It had been a long day, we got home and Nick whipped up a couple of steaks on the outdoor grill which we devoured with a few bottles of Sagres. By the time midnight came along I was whacked!

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