Staying near to an area of wetland is always a good start if you want to see birds as they are usually very rich in species and numbers. Staying as we were, next to the Salgados Wetlands, we were not disappointed. The first new species was also the smallest we saw. A little bird with a big name - in fact two big names - A Fan-tailed Warbler ( ).
1/4oz and being entirely insectivorous, it can sometimes have a very difficult time during cold weather when it's food source is scarce. It is the only member of the Cisticola family of Warblers to be found in Europe. Most of it's cousins are native to the African continent.
Secondly, a slightly larger bird and one which really has no business being in Portugal. Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, the Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild) has become resident in Portugal over the past few years and is spreading into Spain. We were lucky enough to have a small flock of about 10 individuals which regularly visited the trees next to our apartment. Always flitting about and never sitting still for more than a few seconds at a time, these handsome little finches took a lot of patience and not a little luck to capture on camera. The red markings on it's face give it the the look of wearing a mask.
Galerida cristata) scuffling around the dry, dusty ground of the car-parks and footpaths, leaping into the air as soon as I managed to focus on them. So, these were also rather difficult to get a good 'shot' of, but here goes...
Ardeola ralloides). This a is a very small member of the Heron family measuring only about 18" tall. Wintering in Africa, they are very seldom seen further north than these Southern European and Mediterranean coasts. Pale in colour when out of breeding plumage, they show shocking, white wings when they take to the air, as this one did a few seconds later. What a beauty!
Crashing around the reed-beds and making strange 'mooing' noises was a large, heavily built bird, rare (indeed endangered) in Europe and nowhere very common. Related to our more familiar Moorhen, but much bigger, the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio subspecies porphyrio) is a sight to behold.
More new ticks tomorrow...