Sunday, 29 November 2009

Wild!

For me, probably the highlight of our holiday in Portugal, was being able to add a few new species of birds to my 'life list'. We begin with a magnificently large one, the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). Spotted soaring high above us while we sat on our balcony, sipping our afternoon tea (how English).
Standing about 4ft tall and with a wingspan of up to 6ft, it is truly an imposing bird and an exciting 'first' for me.
Secondly and on our way back from our long walk to Vilamoura, we spotted a falcon swooping around the cliffs. At first I thought it was a Peregrine, but on closer inspection it turned out to be an Eleonora's falcon. Sadly, I didn't manage to get a picture of this one as it didn't stay around long enough. Named after Eleonor of Arborea, a national heroine of Sardinia, this is a spectacular bird of prey it is a migratory species, spending winter in Madagascar. Spanish and German researchers have demonstrated the route through the Sahara Desert, the equatorial rainforests until reaching Kenya and Mozambique. The total distance covered during the flight has reached up to 9000 km for a single one-way trip. Spectacular!
Thirdly another bird of prey a Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata).
A little difficult to see in this picture as it was, like the Stork, soaring very high above our apartment. Another migratory species, it winters in sub-Saharan Africa and it is because of this migration that southern Portugal is such a good place to see birds. They accumulate here before attempting the crossing of the sea to Africa which is much shorter distance at this westernmost point of the Mediterranean.
Not new to me, but no less worthy of a mention here were the scores of Azure-Winged Magpies (Cyanopica cyana) which flew around almost everywhere. A simply beautiful member of the crow family.
Lastly, i must mention the Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis). These small heron-like birds were to be seen every day in the field over which our apartment looked, as they licked around looking for insects, grubs, etc.

On a separate note, I must mention a special person who has a birthday tomorrow. Malcolm (Latin name unknown) will turn 47 tomorrow but as we will be visiting my mum in Norfolk, there will be no blog entry, hence the early mention! So, Happy Birthday Malcolm ..... What a cute chap!
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