Saturday, November 22, 2014

Birds of the Alentejo

Yesterday, 21st Nov 2014,  I guided a day-tour to the Baixo Alentejo-region, about one hour inland from the coast. I include some photos / record shots of the main target species I took during the tour. Other than the birds shown in the pictures, we also saw a.o. Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Peregrine Falcon, Hen Harrier, Calandra Lark and also the first Cranes of the season (2 Ind.). After sufficient rain falls, now the steppe-like plain of the southern interior is back to life!

Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) adult. Parque Natural da Vale Guadiana, 21 Nov. 2014. 

Same Ind. as above.

Same Ind.as above.

An immature pair of Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aquila adalberti). Probably 3 cy. Castro Verde-area, 21 Nov 2014.

Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypus monachus) Monte Salto, CV, 21 Nov. 2014.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) date and location as above.


Great Bustards (Otis tarda) near Castro Verde. 21 Nov. 2014.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Yellow-browed Warblers and others

Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) near Sagres on the 30th October 2014.
Like the previous year, we experience an influx of these Siberian Warblers here in South Portugal, with about a dozen records made ofer the past 2 weeks. Finding them is tricky, as most Individuals do not- or rarely call. Meanwhile the first birds showed up on the Maroccan coast and the Canary islands, as well. I found my first one on Wednesday, 29th, next to the "Laranjal golf course" in Quinta do Lago-area, not far from Faro. It was accompanied by Common Chiffchaffs, two birds of which looked good for the eastern taxon "tristis". It was early in the  morning and the photographs I got are rather poor.

Possible "tristis" Chiff chaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis) in Quinta do Lago- area on October 29th.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) at the cape today



Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) [Pt.: Petinha-silvestre; D.: Waldpieper] near the cape of Sagres ("Cabranosa") today. The bird has been found by Thijs Valkenburg on Tuesday. Could not find the also reported Yellow Browed Warbler - instead I heard a Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi) flying over and calling.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pallid Harrier

Guiding a group of birders from Germany around Sagres on the 3rd of October, we walked along a track through the fields and the Garigue, watching Whinchats, Tawny Pipits, many Northern Wheatears and also two Little Bustards, when we picked up a juvenile Harrier hunting in "Vale Santo"-area at around 10 a.m.
While "jizz" and structure layed somehow in between Hen- and Montagu's Harrier, the bright orange body plumage and the lack of any streaking on neck and breast plus the contrasting head markings excluded a Hen Harrier. Also primary-tips, as far as I could see, looked good for a juvenile Pallid Harrier! But without having achieved closer observations nor reasonable photos - I called it a probable Pallid Harrier Circus macrouros at this point.
About two hours later we had arrived at the observation-point, a small hill side with a geodetic mark near a Pine-forest overlooking the open, heathland-like Garigue in western direction. Around 20 observers were on- or near the watchpoint, when the same bird approached the hill from the west and passed along side it at about 100 m distance, first in southern- and then back in northerly direction.
While most observers soon called it a Pallid- or probable Pallid, at least one observer, experienced with the species, stated it would be clearly too "heavy" and could impossible be a Pallid - rather a Hen Harrier. Well, since members of the Portuguese rarities comittee were also present this moment, this opinion was soon overruled. However, something about the bird remains slightly "atypical" -  or not?









Foto by Ramona Strempel

Foto by Ramona Strempel

I have sent a few photos I took of the bird (the first three) - record shots, basically - to Dick Forsman, who is considered the leading expert in the field of raptor-identification in Europe and the WP and share here, what he kindly comented on the bird:


Hi Georg,
Thanks for your mail.
It is an interesting bird you have, and it is a pity that there has been so much heat haze, that the images are slightly blurred. This prevents us from seeing the important small details of the underbody and wing-tip.
I agree the bird looks a bit on the heavy side with rather broad-looking wings, but if it is a young female (should have a dark iris), then it is still within the limits for a Pallid. Also the wing-tip looks a bit broad and rounded, but I cannot see that the crucial p6 (the fifth feather counting inwards from the outermost primary) is either too long or clearly emarginated, as it should on a hybrid Hen x Pallid. Also the dark trailing edge of the hand looks a bit too distinct, but also some juv Pallids have this feature, and as you say, it tends to vary with the angle of the light.

Despite the few oddities I think this bird can be accepted as a big and heavy female Pallid. However, if it was a young male (yellow iris), then things are different and the identification is in need of reconsideration. I would be interested in seeing more images of this bird in case it stays around.

best regards,
Dick

     

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shearwaters and Dolphins

Last Friday, 25th of July, we went out for another Pelagic with Passeios Ria Formosa from Fuzeta. This time we also aimed for Dolphins and got both, Bottlenose- and Common Dolphins close to the boat. Besides a smaller number of Wilson's Storm Petrels, following a fishing vessel, we found a big concentration of Shearwaters (together with the school of Common Dolphins). Dozens of Cory's-, but also some Balearic- and at least 6 Sooty- and 3 Great Shearwaters gave great views and photo opportunities about 4 miles off Armona island, between Olhão and Fuzeta. Two Common Terns, one Great Skua, some Northern Gannets and many Audouin's Gulls could also been seen during the trip.
Some of the photos, all from this trip, turned out nice. Please check two blog entries before for the next tours scheduled and on my website for general Info about this trips.

Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) passing close by the boat. Non-breeders apparently summer here in the Algarve.

Cory's Shearwaters (Calonectris (borealis) diomedea) were numerous. This Ind. shows the underwing pattern of a Scopoli's Shearwater (C.diomedea diomedea) but this could not be confirmed in the field and might appear so due to the light and angle in this photo. 

Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Delpinus delphis).

A Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis) with two Cory's Shearwaters. The species nests in the southern hemisphere, the Falkland Islands, among others.

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) also origins from the subantarctic region.

Short-beaked Common Dolphins (Delpinus delphis).


One of several Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) we saw during this trip.

Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) the same Ind. as above.

Great Shearwater (front) and Cory's Shearwater.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stormies!

This last Saturday (July, 12th) at 8 o'clock on a sunny morning, we headed out from Fuzeta for about 5 miles off shore and saw a lot of marine birds. Regarding Storm Petrels, particularly Wilson's Storm Petrels (Oceanites oceanicus) this was one of the best trips I ever made. We must have seen around 30 birds of this species out of a total of 41 Storm Petrels observed during the 2,5 half hours trip, many of them close to the boat, sometimes less than 5m. Best views and photos were possible when we approached a small trawler at about 4.5 miles off shore, where around 30 Storm Petrels, including a few European Storm Petrels (Hydrobates pelagicus) were feeding. Some fast "traveling" Petrels on our way out or back in could not be idetified on species-level. Also remarkable was the amount of Baleric Shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus) we saw: 28 Ind. - 26 birds were traveling westwards (in groups of 2 to 6 Ind., the species nests in the western Mediterranean) between less than 1 mile and c. 2.5 miles off shore. Two birds were hanging around the fishing vessel and gave very good views. Numbers of Cory's Shearwaters (Calonectris (diomedia) borealis) were still rather low - about 10 Ind. and only a few immature Northern Gannets were around. A single Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) quite a few Audouin's Gulls and one Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) were other sea birds of interest. We did not see any Cetaceans (Whales&Dolphins) on this trip - but did not miss them much either. My Danish clients were really happy - since the both Storm Petrels were their main target species and we got plenty and close by. I include some photos I made during the trip.

For the next trips scheduled, please read my previous blog-entry or contact me.

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) feeding within a mixed group. C. 4.5 miles off shore. Algarve, Portugal, July 12th 2014. Foto: GS. The birds shows heavy moult of the remiges.

 Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus)  note the toe-projection over the tail tip. C. 4.5 miles off shore. Algarve, Portugal, July 12th 2014. Foto: GS.


 Another Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) Note the three retained outer primaries and the inner secondaries freshly replaced. C. 4.5 miles off shore. Algarve, Portugal, July 12th 2014. Foto: GS.

 Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) note different feather generations. C. 4.5 miles off shore. Algarve, Portugal, July 12th 2014. Foto: GS.

 An European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) with the striking white underwing coverts and missing toe projection. Most probaly a "British Storm Petrel", since records of the Mediterranean (sub?)species are extremely rare, but ID in the field technically impossible.

 Detail of a Wilson's foraging. I wish the head would be visible somewhere in the photo, since this one is nice and sharp...

"Stormie" taking off...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pelagic boat-trips - New dates for summer and autumn

It is high season now to watch pelagic sea-birds and Cetaceans in the Algarve. Cory's Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Great Shearwater and Sooty Shearwater, Wilson's- and European Storm Petrels are regular migrants seen in the Algarve, besides Skuas, Gannets and various Tern- and Gull-species.

The new dates scheduled for 2014 (more dates on request):

Sat., July 12th; Fr., July 25th; 
Sat., August 23rd; 
Fri., September 5th; Sat., September 20th; 
Thu., October 09th; 
Sat., November 1st.

For further Info visit: http://www.birdwatching-algarve.com/pelagic-boat-trips.html

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Big birds of prey

Yesterday and the day before, I have been leading Tours up in the Alentejo-region, well one hour in land from the Algarve coast. Besides both Bustard-species, Black-bellied Sandgrouses, Collared Pratincoles and European Rollers seen on both Tours, yesterday's Tour had been particularly successful regarding the impressive large raptors - of which we got very close and extended views, without disturbing these wonderful birds, as shown in the photos below.


  

Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) 29/04/2014Guadiana River Natural Park, 

Baixo Alentejo region, south Portugal. Photo: Georg Schreier.




 Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) same Ind. as above. 29/04/2014
Guadiana River Natural Park, Baixo Alentejo region, south Portugal. Photo: Georg Schreier.





Eurasian Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) a different Ind. of at least 7 birds present at the location. 
29/04/2014. Guadiana River Natural Park, Baixo Alentejo region, south Portugal. Photo: Georg Schreier.




Eurasian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) one of 50+ Ind. at the spot. 29/04/2014: Photo: GS.





Spanish (Iberian) Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) this older immature was one of 4 Ind. present at the location. Earlier we observed a full adult male together with an immature female. 29/04/2014. Photo: GS.





Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in it's second calender year. 
This migratory species is a rare visitor to the area. 29/04/2014. Photo: GS.



The wonderful meadows full of wild flowers in April are home to Great- and Little Bustards, Calandra Larks and many others.




The top-predator of the "steppes" - the Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti). 
I digiscoped this immature during a Tour with a group of 6 people earlier this month.




Scattered Holm Oaks (Portuguese: "Montado") flowering Gum Cistus and the wide open fields. Imagine the continous songs of Calandra Larks, occasional calls of displaying Little Bustards and a male Montagu's Harrier soaring above the scenery - south Portugal in spring.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spring migration!

Africa migrants have started to appear in the Algarve and will do so increasingly from mid March onwards, with most of the trans-Sahara migrants returning. I spent two days visiting the marvellous Coto Doñana Natural Park in Andalusia, Spain - only an about two hours drive from Faro this week. One of the photos that turned out well is this adult Short-toed Eagle, which must have returned from his wintering areas in Africa recently.

Adult Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Parque Natural Coto de Doñana (E), 05/03/2014. Photo:GS.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Glaucous Gulls in the Algarve !

Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb.18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) 1st winter. Sagres harbor, Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Adult Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) Portimão fishing harbor. Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



Adult Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) Portimão fishing harbor. Feb. 18th 2014. Foto: Georg Schreier.



A series of north Atlantic storms have caused the biggest influx of Arctic Gulls to the Algarve since February 2009. Yesterday, I photographed three different Glaucous Gulls (Larus hyperboreus) in the fishing harbor of our "cape-town" Sagres. All birds were in there second calender year and feeding on fishery discard. A full adult was still present in the fishing harbour of Portimão yesterday afternoon, where me and others have discovered it in early January already. What a pleasure to watch and photograph these arctic beauties here in the wonderful and mild spring weather of the Algarve !
A friend of mine and enthusiastic Gull-watcher, Nelson Fonseca, has just launched a Blog about Gulls in the Algarve, including some of my data. Here it is:










http://gullsofalgarve.blogspot.pt/2014/02/glaucous-gull-larus-hyperboreus.html

It has been only the day before (Monday), that on a day tour with clients, we watched Spanish Imperial Eagles hunting hares and Black-winged Kites mating, Great Bustards, Lesser Kestrels, Stone Curlews, Hen Harriers and Great Spotted Cuckoos. I am still fascinated by the diversity Southern Portugal has to offer throughout the year. At the moment, arctic birds meet the first arriving Africa-migrants here.