Thursday, 5 December 2019

Last of the Algarve

Just a few last pictures today, of of our short trip and as usual, we got plenty of long walks while we were there. The dunes have been protected from walkers' feet, by the construction of wooden walkways and one of our favourite walks was along to the lighthouse at the mouth of the harbour.
Near the end, the wooden walkway, gives way to a granite causeway, forming two sides of the channel into and out of the estuary and harbour.
Plenty of places to stop, to check in to your social media..!
AT the end, was this small and rather rusty lighthouse.
At low tide, the estuary was reduced to a few small water channels.
We had some nice views across the sand...
and across the dunes.
Walking from the hotel in the opposite direction, all was cliffs, which looked beautiful in the sun...
and came in all sorts of shapes.
Back at the hotel, we were a big hit with the local Azure-winged Magpies - or at least our Pastéis de nata were!
So that's about it. Time to head home again and get started on Christmas..!

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Birdlife

The wetlands around Alvor, are excellent for wildlife and for the birds especially. Among the ubiquitous Sparrows and Starlings, we found large flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches, as well as a new 'tick' for my life list, a Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica).
Bluethroats were once classed as members of the thrush family, but have now been moved to the closely related, Old World Flycatchers. But whatever family they belong to, it was a rare treat to see one, especially at this time of year, when most have gone south to Africa for the winter.
Out on the mud and knee-deep in the water, Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) were busy feeding.
A few of these distinctive wading birds can be found as far north as the UK, but they are always easier to find in southern Europe.
Flitting about in the dry grasses, several charming little Fan-tailed Warblers or Zitting Cisticolas (Cisticola juncidis) kept us amused. These tiny birds are always tricky to photograph, as they are so small and never still for more than a second or two.
Back out in the water, a Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) was always busy probing the sand for something to eat.
Perhaps the most spectacular find and another new 'tick' for the life list, was a large flock of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) which we saw on Sunday evening as we were heading back to the airport. Sadly, the camera was packed away and we were in the back of a minibus anyway, so no photos. Better luck next time!

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Cliffs

Just a few more pictures from our short break in the Algarve today, starting with a some views of those crumbling cliffs.
The clifftop paths were a little bit scary at times, particularly when you look back at where you'd been standing only a few minutes ago, to find that there wasn't much supporting the bit you were standing on!
Lots of holes, small caves and sections which had been completely undermined by the battering of the sea.
Back down at beach level, you just have to stop for a while to enjoy the waves rolling in.

Then off to explore through the rocks, to another small, sandy inlet.
All very nice!
Along the clifftops, there are several spots, where you can look down the blow-holes which have formed (if you are brave enough). One of these has a small viewing platform, built out over the hole, so you can look vertically down at the sea crashing in below. I think this one is called the Gruta das Baratas, or cave of cockroaches for some strange reason. You might even take a short video!

Monday, 2 December 2019

Algarve

Malcolm and I, returned late last night, from a few days away in the Algarve. We stayed at the Pestana Dom João II hotel.
We arrived on Thursday and spent a few hours finding our way around the local area and enjoying the views.
This part of the Algarve, is well known for the crumbling cliffs, which seem to disintegrate more and more each year, requiring more 'danger' signs to be displayed.
Thankfully, it was very quiet everywhere as it's the end of the season, so we had the beaches and boardwalks almost to ourselves.
We had lunch at a lovely sea-front restaurant, with views across the harbour and the yachts moored there.
The harbour area, takes up a small part of the extensive wetlands, popular with wading birds of all kinds (more of which, later).
Large areas of scrub and dune systems, provide a home to many other species of birds and other wildlife.
We enjoyed the sunset at the end of the day too
Much more to come...

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Swan Lake

There was just time for a quick walk to Straw's Bridge this morning, so we took advantage of the sunshine and headed off. There was no sign of the Egyptian Goose today, but I still have one picture from a few days ago.
There were however, lots of Swans on the lake. Two of them were getting a little romantic until a Mallard decided to put a stop to all that.
Several swans decided to take off while we watched, but a few of them had second thoughts and came back.
One particularly magnificent Cob, was master of all he surveyed.
Just one more picture of this gorgeous chap.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Sunshine!

We managed to get out again this morning, although with everywhere being so wet and muddy, we opted for an easy life and only went as far as Straw's Bridge again. The low, Winter sunshine, was lovely as we stood looking across the lakes.
As there was very little breeze, we had some great reflections to enjoy too.
On 'Swan Lake', the usual crowd, were enjoying the seed and breadcrumbs provided. This domestic Goose was looking his normal, belligerent self.
The Swans were looking wonderful as usual...
and plenty of background noise was being provided by the Black-headed Gulls.
Among them all, the exotic-looking Egyptian Goose was still in residence and seemed to have made friends with the Greylags.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Cold

This morning, despite the gloomy weather and the coldest morning of the season so far, we bravely set out to do 'the farm walk'. Gone were the blue skies of a few weeks ago....
and instead, we had leaden skies and lingering mist.
We were convinced the sun was still up there somewhere, but it was struggling to make its presence felt this morning.
Looking back along the path, things were definitely looking wintry.
The Oaks are hanging on to their leaves for a few more days yet, but have taken on a golden hue, brightening up a dull day.
Up through the woods, the brook is still gushing with water after all the rain.
There are still a few fabulous fungi to be found around the trunks of the Birch trees...
and if you look closely, you might find these wonderful little Fairy Cup Lichens, or Cladonia.