Friday 28 March 2014

Update from Portugal

Laura and I have made it to Faro, on the southern coast of Portugal today! I`ll make this brief since I don`t have a lot of time, but here is an update of my time in Europe so far.

I arrived on Saturday, March 22 after a red-eye flight via Paris. Laura met me in Edinburgh and we spent a relaxing day and a half together in the city. We did get out for a nice walk to Duddingston Loch, at the base of Arthur`s Seat, in beautiful spring weather! I was happy to finally see my first ever Great Crested Grebe, a species that had eluded me previously on my Scotland trips (mainly due to time of year that I visited).

From Edinburgh, we flew to London Gatwick on March 24, where we met with friends of mine from Pelee, Paul and Liz Hunter. They welcomed us into their home and showed me some of their top-notch birding locations in the southeast of England! Unfortunately the weather did not co-operate, but in about two full days of birding we came up with over 100 species - not bad considering the cold, strong wind, sleet, and general lack of migrants! Out of those species, the following were lifers:

-Red Kite
-Spotted Redshank
-Pied Avocet (or as the Brits say, just "Avocet")
-Red-legged Partridge
-Arctic Loon (I mean...Black-throated Diver)
-Bearded Reedling
-Cetti's Warbler
-Northern Wheatear
-Water Pipit
-Rose-ringed Parakeet
-Wood Lark

A major highlight for me was finally seeing a Northern Wheatear that Liz had spotted, just moments after Paul had found a Water Pipit (also a lifer). The Northern Wheatear was my 1000th bird! :)

Northern Wheatear - Rye Marsh, England

Our time in London was over all too soon, but Laura and I were off to Portugal next. We arrived in Lisbon on the evening of March 26 and spent the 27th doing the touristy thing and checking out the city. Portugal was my 6th country in 10 days, after Canada, Panama, USA, France, and the UK! Despite not really birding that day, I added a lifer in Common Swift and found another good bird in the form of a Yank - a Ring-billed Gull! Luckily Laura had her point-and-shoot camera with her so I could document it.

3rd calendar year Ring-billed Gull - Lisbon, Portugal

On March 28 we walked around part of the city for the morning then took a train to Faro, located on the sunny south coast of Portugal where we are currently. Unfortunately our seats on the train weren't the best but I still added a lifer in Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Faro is located immediately next to the Ria de Formosa, a large and productive coastal estuary. As we were getting off of the train, a White Stork flew in and landed in the marsh; yet another lifer! And to top it off, several Pallid Swifts hawking for insects at dusk was my 3rd lifer of the day.

Tomorrow we have plans to take a boat through the estuary and to a barrier island, so I am hoping to see some shorebirds and maybe some seabirds if I am lucky. We have almost 5 full days in Faro so lots of time to see some awesome wildlife!!

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