Portugal 2011


Secret Garden

3rd - 17th October 2011

Species Total For Trip 137

View Portugal in a larger map

This holiday has been booked with the view of squeezing in a trip, after our marathon in India earlier in the year, to somewhere we had not been (of which there are lot's) and the Algarve seemed like the place after having a search for a reasonably priced European trip. We thought about the easy of options of returning to Lesvos or Mallorca or even venturing to Cyprus but cost, familiarity, distance and the thrill of somewhere new all pointed to Portugal and I like the look of the Azure Winged Magpie. The trip was booked on the 10th Feb 2011 with a departure of October 2011. It took us a while to decide where to stay whilst in Portugal and it was looking like Lagos (West) until I found another place to the East of Faro airport. A quiet place called Tavira and and the hotel was pleasingly placed on the edge of a good birding place, the Ria Formosa nature reserve.
The hotel we have chosen is the Cabanas Park Resort and it looks just right for our needs. We were thwarted on our first attempt to book the holiday as package holidays were not available to this hotel. Althams kindly put together it together separately albeit with no financial support if things went wrong with the airline etc. 

Cost Breakdown
Flights are with Monarch Airlines with 20kg hold luggage and 5kg hand luggage. No meals on board
Hotel is Cabanas Park Resort in Tavira for 14 nights S/C
Return transfer Manchester airport with Althams service (£66)
Return transfers Faro airport via shuttle
Total cost £839
Car Hire 10 days £189

General Observations Of The Trip
FLIGHT: Booked with Monarch which is a first for us. I hear not to many good things about Monarch but I am hoping it is not to bad for the short time we will be in the air. We booked baggage allowance which has given us 20kg hold allowance and 10kg hand luggage allowance which is great to be able to get all our stuff in the hand luggage as all that glass and metal tends to weigh on a tad.
Outbound Details
Plane Type Airbus A321. 3+3 seating plan with plenty of overhead locker room. Flight Number ZB594
Brochure Flight Time Mon 3rd Oct Man-Faro 16:45 - 19:45Actual Flight Time Mon 3rd Oct Man-Faro 17:09 - 19:36
Inbound Details
Plane Type Airbus A321. 3+3 seating plan with plenty of overhead locker room. Flight Number ZB595
Brochure Flight Time Mon 17th Oct Faro-Man 20:45 - 23.35
Actual Flight Time Mon 17th Oct Faro-Man 20:45 - 23:45
HOTELThe hotel, Cabanas Park Resort in Cabanas De Tavira, Tavira, was superb in it's sizeable rooms and on request we gained a high floor room overlooking the river. The staff were superb when needed allowing us to keep the room on as we should have checked out at 12:00 midday but we asked if we could stay on as we were not due to leave until evening. I offered to pay for the facility but no charge was given and they allowed us to stay until 17:00 an hour before the cleaners finished for the day. The hotel was situated in a cracking spot close to saltpans, river, woodland, cultivated land and the sea. On opening the patio doors on the first morning I was amazed to see with the naked eye birds that I normally have to travel distance to see on other birding holidays. I am reluctant to tell of this hotel as the area it was in is truly wonderful for birding, eating and enjoying what Portugal has to offer. 
FOOD: The food was lovely and I had every opportunity to indulge in my love of seafood. It's difficult to give an accurate view of expense as many of our holidays have been to India so in truth we have lost touch with value as India is so extreme in cost anything is deemed expensive now! Suffice to say we often shared a starter, two mains, two deserts, bottle water and a house red. This cost about £43- £48 for the whole meal. We did a little research on restaurants in the area and we soon settled on couple that suited us. The map at the beginning of this report shows where these restaurants are and I would recommend trying them out as they are very good.
Mesa Do Cume (37.24449 -7.732014) . This place is our number one choice even though it is in the middle of nowhere. The food is Portugese gastro and it made us smile as I think it is the best place we have ever eaten. Sadly we could only go for lunch as at certain times of the year it closes after lunch. They have a websiteHERE and this place stuns you on two fronts. Firstly the most important, food. The second is it's position, which has stunning mountain valley views.
Ideal Restaurant ( 37.135348 -7.601314) . Another very Portugese eatery that we both felt very comfortable in as it really was like eating amongst the locals. We ate most here and although prices were over the average it was always a treat to soak up the atmosphere and receive some real efficient service.
Cabanas Brasserie (37.135348 -7.601314) . We found this a lovely place to eat and the couple that own, cook and serve are very accommodating, friendly and most of all good cooks! They are closed on Sundays but open all other days and offer some good honest food at average prices.

CURRENCY: We exchanged a few in the UK £ to € before we left and it was a little higher than normal at 1.14. We use several methods of payment whilst away, mostly we use a pre loaded travel card to withdraw money form cash machines. We also take GBP, Credit Card and Debit card as backup and in particular the credit card to authenticate payment of the hire car as a pre loaded travel card will not be accepted. We found ATM machines readily available and easy to use.
CAR HIRE: This was booked through Economy Car Hire in advance via there website HERE Having booked online I noticed a vital piece of info was not tallying due to a Credit Card had to be taken with you that matched the MAIN drivers name, which it did not so I emailed and they very quickly altered the name of the MAIN driver to my own and sent a new voucher to me. Good customer service so far. We have booked a Seat Ibiza Diesel as diesel is cheaper than unleaded in Portugal and I get the feeling we may cover some miles this trip so I figured the small extra paid for a diesel would pay dividends in the end. Cost seems very good with everything included and with two drivers, allowance over the border into Spain and extra insurance to cover for things like losing keys, tyres, glass and underneath car etc etc. We have asked to have the car delivered and collected from our hotel which we have been told will be charged locally.
£189 for 10 days including all insurances that covered even tyres, glass and lost keys.
€20 paid locally for delivery and collection to hotel.
CULTURE: We found this European destination agreeable in the most part. Like all the world over some people moan some are happy etc. The seemed quite laid back but not afraid to show displeasure or give opinion on occasion. It seems that the honest approach has been abused on several levels and so this is possibly affecting the Portugese approach to life. I wondered how much of the economic frailties of late have had an impact on this? 
BIRD WATCHING: The bird watching was simply superb with a huge total of birds being seen. Mandy and I was very surprised by how many species we actually saw and indeed how many more that we could have seen given more luck, time and judgement. We saw 136 species in total that eclipsed both Majorca and Lesbos and those were Spring trips, so this being Autumn proved a real eye opener. The other thing of note was that whilst we saw a good array of species it was the volume of birds that was really impressive with hundreds of birds being seen all the time. Blackcaps were all over and I counted over 20 in one small bush alone. I also enjoyed catching migration in it's best form and that was watching bird species arriving on the coast one day and then not being seen the next. Everyday had you feeling a new bird would be seen and in truth that feeling was always played out when I walked out of the hotel and headed to out local patch..
BUGS On the whole we were not troubled although I do always use anti mossie and sunscreen combined everyday. Normally speaking it is Mandy who gets eaten but it seemed it was my turn. After the first week we started getting the odd bite which turned into about 20-30 bites for me and half that for Mandy during a 4-5 day period. This was mostly due to the total absence of any wind coupled with high temps. A slight annoyance over the two weeks were the odd very persistent blue bottle sized flies that just would not leave your head,nose and ears. They followed for miles which was damn annoying.
WEATHERDaytime temps were between 33ºC - 28ºC Nightime temps were between 19ºC - 15ºC. This was amazing and in all truth we were praying for a few clouds to break up the blazing sunshine. It was only on the last few days of the holiday that we encountered anything resembling cloud and it cooled slightly. The highs during the day proved quite sapping and we should have taken time out during the afternoon heat. Even on the coast, mountains and on the eastern tip of the Algarve, Cape st Vincent it was still and warm.
3rd October Monday
Pickup up by Althams taxi at 13:00 and arrived at Manchester airport at 13:45. We had booked one of the lounges at the airport which was OK but I would only use again on long haul rather than short haul. Everything was smooth with all the details regarding the flight and even a choice of aisle or window seat was given. The flight was fine with the seating giving enough leg and butt room but Mandy and I are both short. The onboard meal was not taken and we never felt like we missed out and even though we were willing to purchase snacks we did not as we, amongst others, were overlooked...more money to spend in Portugal though! It was dark on landing at 19:36 and after a fast baggage reclaim we were looking for our shuttle connection. We spotted this and we were waiting for an elderly man that had wandered off and then requiring assistance to get to the shuttle. Some remarked how could a man that required a wheelchair having beaten all others off the plane and walked some distance unaided only now to decide he could not walk. I really was not bothered as the 10min delay whilst a wheelchair was found was only a snip of time out of our holiday. We were leaving the airport by 20:30 and having several other customers we were relieved to find we were second drop off with the first going to Porto Nova and others carrying on to Tavira, Monte Gordo and Spain. We arrived at our hotel at 21:20 and after being greeted with a quick rundown of things we headed up to our requested top floor room. Dropped the bags and was eager to look at the view....pitch black with a glint of a river nearby. Unpacked, set up optics and headed to bed in readiness.

Cabanas Do Tavira Walkabout
Lat-Long (37.134456 -7.612631)
Total Species 83
This was walked almost everyday as I could easily reach saltpans, tidal river, woodland, groves and sea within a 5 mile radius. The balcony overlooked a tidal river and saltpans and on looking out over this area on our first morning we were both really pleased as we watched Spoonbill, Flamingo and Little Grebe all going about their activities. We soon found a shortcut to the water treatment plant and onto the saltpans via skirting around the river (not high tide!). I had read very little on this area as most people seemed to concentrate on Tavira. It was a gem of a place and I soon found my "patch" as it had groves, river, reeds, shrubs, grassland and trees. As can be seen from the total species seen here it was a superb spot and it had us smiling when birds like Osprey, Bluethroat, Black Shouldered Kite could be seen whilst eating breakfast. Quail and Nightingale were only seen once but there were literally thousands of Blackcaps passing through this area. I would return to this place again as it truly was a superb and very much little visited area.
  (species highlighted in yellow denotes lifer)
1 Mallard 04-Oct-11 2 Red-legged Partridge 07-Oct-11 
3 Common Quail 11-Oct-11 4 Little Grebe 04-Oct-11
Greater Flamingo 04-Oct-11  6 White Stork 04-Oct-11 7 Great Cormorant 04-Oct-11 8 Grey Heron 04-Oct-11
9 Little Egret 05-Oct-11  10 Cattle Egret 04-Oct-11  11 Eurasian Spoonbill 04-Oct-11 12 Osprey 04-Oct-11
13 Black-winged Kite 15-Oct-11  14 Common Buzzard 16-Oct-11  15 Common Kestrel 04-Oct-11  16 Northern Lapwing 16-Oct-11
17 Grey Plover 15-Oct-11  18 European Golden-Plover 09-Oct-11  19 Kentish Plover 15-Oct-11  20 Common Ringed Plover 07-Oct-11
21 Black-winged Stilt 04-Oct-11  22 Pied Avocet 16-Oct-11  23 Common Sandpiper 04-Oct-11  24 Green Sandpiper 16-Oct-11
25 Common Redshank 04-Oct-11  26 Whimbrel 04-Oct-11  27 Eurasian Curlew 05-Oct-11  28 Black-tailed Godwit 07-Oct-11
29 Ruddy Turnstone 04-Oct-11  30 Sanderling 07-Oct-11  31 Little Stint 16-Oct-11  32 Dunlin 04-Oct-11
33 Black-headed Gull 04-Oct-11  34 Mediterranean Gull 11-Oct-11  35 Audouin's Gull 15-Oct-11  36 Yellow-legged Gull 04-Oct-11
37 Lesser Black-backed Gull 07-Oct-11  38 Common Tern 04-Oct-11 39 Sandwich Tern 04-Oct-11  40 Rock Dove 04-Oct-11
41 European Turtle-Dove 07-Oct-11  42 Eurasian Collared-Dove 04-Oct-11  43 Little Owl 06-Oct-11  44 Common Kingfisher 05-Oct-11
Great Spotted Woodpecker 11-Oct-11  46 Southern Grey Shrike 16-Oct-11  47 Eurasian Jay 04-Oct-11  48 Azure-winged Magpie 04-Oct-11
Common Magpie 04-Oct-11  50 Crested Lark 04-Oct-11  51 Skylark 04-Oct-11 52 Red-rumped Swallow 04-Oct-11
Common House-Martin 04-Oct-11  54 Great Tit 04-Oct-11  55 Cetti's Warbler 07-Oct-11  56 Willow Warbler 04-Oct-11
Common Chiffchaff 07-Oct-11  58 Fan-tailed Warbler 04-Oct-11  59 Blackcap 04-Oct-11  60 Garden Warbler 04-Oct-11
Subalpine Warbler 04-Oct-11  62 Sardinian Warbler 04-Oct-11  63 European Robin 11-Oct-11  64 Common Nightingale 11-Oct-11
Bluethroat 05-Oct-11  66 European Pied Flycatcher 04-Oct-11  67 Common Redstart 04-Oct-11  68 Whinchat 04-Oct-11
Stonechat 04-Oct-11  70 Northern Wheatear 09-Oct-11  71 Eurasian Blackbird 04-Oct-11  72 Song Thrush 16-Oct-11
Spotless Starling 04-Oct-11  74 Western Yellow Wagtail 07-Oct-1175 Grey Wagtail 04-Oct-11  76 White Wagtail 04-Oct-11
Corn Bunting 16-Oct-11  78 European Greenfinch 07-Oct-11  79 European Goldfinch 04-Oct-11  80 European Serin 05-Oct-11
House Sparrow 04-Oct-11  82 Spanish Sparrow 04-Oct-11  83 Common Waxbill 1 04-Oct-11

Vila Real De Santo Antonio 
(Lat-Long 37.197903 -7.429195)
Total Species 27
This was visited whilst visiting the Castro Marim area and we spent an enjoyable couple of ours on 2 occasions watching many waders, Ducks, Terns and birds of Prey. There are a few places to stop but I would recommend leaving the road and parking down a dirt track where a white "horse racing" type fence is visible as it is quieter and various species could be noted easier with a little shade being offered in places. This area is mentioned in the Gosney guide and tells you to just pull over on the roadside to view pools but the road mentioned as since been renovated leaving nowhere safe to pull in and view so we used this place and walked around.
1 Sand Martin 05-Oct-11  2 Fan-tailed Warbler 05-Oct-11  3 Black-winged Stilt 05-Oct-11  4 Caspian Tern 05-Oct-11  5 Cattle Egret 05-Oct-11
6 Common Moorhen 05-Oct-11  7 Common Ringed Plover 05-Oct-11  8 Crested Lark 05-Oct-11  9 Western Yellow Wagtail 05-Oct-11
10 Eurasian Coot 05-Oct-11 11 Common Kestrel 05-Oct-11  12 Grey Heron 05-Oct-11  13 Great Crested Grebe 05-Oct-11
14 Eurasian Hoopoe 05-Oct-11  15 Kentish Plover 05-Oct-11  16 Lesser Black-backed Gull 05-Oct-11  17 Little Egret 05-Oct-11
18 Little Grebe 05-Oct-11  19 Little Tern 05-Oct-11  20 Mallard 05-Oct-11  21 Northern Shoveler 05-Oct-11  22 Northern Wheatear 05-Oct-11
23 Ruddy Turnstone 05-Oct-11  24 Sandwich Tern 05-Oct-11  25 Eurasian Marsh-Harrier 05-Oct-11  26 Yellow-legged Gull 05-Oct-11
27 Black-headed Gull 05-Oct-11

Castro Marim Area & Visitor Centre
Lat-Long  (37.231277 -7.425987)
Total Species
This was undertaken on a couple of occasions. The custom for us is to get lost and sure enough it took us ages to find the correct entrance although we did get to see our first Southern Grey Shrike upon taking a very narrow track before turning back. The first time is was searing heat and the visitor centre was closed. We made use of the viewing platform and had a quick look around. Our second visit found the centre open but to be honest it was of little consequence as nothing was gleaned apart from a poorly written leaflet and a look through some of the dirtiest windows in Portugal. We headed down to a hide only to see it padlocked up and enclosed. To be honest it was a disappointment so we felt it was best to move on to pastures new. I know this place can throw up some good birds but it's vast area is probably best left to those patch lovers.
1 Crested Lark 05-Oct-11  2 Eurasian Blackbird 05-Oct-11  3 Common Kestrel 05-Oct-11  4 Willow Warbler 05-Oct-11
5 Northern Lapwing 05-Oct-11  6 White Stork 05-Oct-11  7 Eurasian Spoonbill 05-Oct-11
  8 Southern Grey Shrike 05-Oct-11
Santa Luzia Saltworks
Lat Long (37.103837 -7.646765)
Total Species 33
This was in my opinion a very good place to see gulls roosting. I was a little worried about access as gates are placed on this place and sometimes they were locked. I need no invitation to trespass as without trying I always seem to get into trouble. I had good numbers of Audouin's Gulls roosting along with a few Med Gulls. It was nice and quiet and I would recommend anybody to keep a close eye on this saltworks.

Audouin's Gull 05-Oct-11  2 Yellow-legged Gull 05-Oct-11  3 Black-tailed Godwit 05-Oct-11  4 Black-winged Stilt 05-Oct-11
Caspian Tern 05-Oct-11  6 Cattle Egret 05-Oct-11  7 Black-headed Gull 05-Oct-11  8 Spanish Sparrow 05-Oct-11
Sardinian Warbler 05-Oct-11  10 Pied Avocet 05-Oct-11  11 Mediterranean Gull 05-Oct-11  12 Little Egret 05-Oct-11
13 Kentish Plover 05-Oct-11  14 House Sparrow 05-Oct-11  15 Greater Flamingo 05-Oct-11  16 Grey Heron 05-Oct-11
17 Eurasian Spoonbill 05-Oct-11  18 Common Kingfisher 05-Oct-11  19 Common Moorhen 05-Oct-11  20 Common Redshank 05-Oct-11
21 Common Waxbill 05-Oct-11  22 Crested Lark 05-Oct-11  23 Sandwich Tern 14-Oct-11  24 European Goldfinch 14-Oct-11
25 Eurasian Collared-Dove 14-Oct-11  26 Dunlin 14-Oct-11  27 Lesser Black-backed Gull 14-Oct-11  28 Common Greenshank 14-Oct-11
Ruddy Turnstone 14-Oct-11  30 Whimbrel 14-Oct-11  31 Northern Wheatear 14-Oct-11  32 Stonechat 14-Oct-11
Corn Bunting 14-Oct-11

Cabo de São Vicente
37.023456 -8.995639
Total Species 9
This area was a long drive from Cabanas taking about 2 1/2 hours to reach. we were told of strong winds that can be cool. We took a couple of thin jackets in case but in all truth they would have only been of use to act as sunshades as the heat was very oppressive and there was no wind at all even right on the tip of the most Easterly point in Europe. it was a disaster trip out in so much as I focused to much on trying to get to certain areas when in truth the whole area could be superb if I had just taken the time to sort myself out. I was surprised to see a very agile Black Redstart darting around the cliff edges although I have since read that this is a dead cert bird. Sea watching could be done from here and after 1/2 hour I managed to see a lifer in the form of a Great Skua hassling Gannets. The area gets very busy with tourists mid morning but this does not ruin the area as you can find your own spot to enjoy the birds and scenery. When I return here I will take more time to relax and remembering to look up in the skies more as this is a premium place for raptor migration. This hotspot turned out to be full of common migrating birds as hundreds seemed to be all around with Wheatear, and Stonechat seemingly popping up all over. As regards the migration of raptors it was a non starter but in part it was down to my lack of trying!
1 Black Redstart 06-Oct-11  2 Cattle Egret 06-Oct-11  3 Cory's Shearwater 06-Oct-11  4 Great Skua 06-Oct-11
5 Yellow-legged Gull 06-Oct-11  6 Northern Wheatear 06-Oct-11  7 Rock Dove 06-Oct-11  8 Stonechat 06-Oct-11
9 Northern Gannet 06-Oct-11

Cabo de São Vicente (Farm Buildings)
37.04867 -8.966954
Total Species 11
This was easily found heading inland following the coast. I think these buildings are not in use but not sure. There was about 200 Spotless Starling and a few Chough in the distance. I am sure this place could be great for migration on the right day and I could imagine harriers could well seek out this place.
1 Black Kite 06-Oct-11  2 Crested Lark 06-Oct-11  3 Eurasian Blackbird 06-Oct-11  4 Eurasian Jackdaw 06-Oct-11
5 Common Kestrel 06-Oct-11  6 Fan-tailed Warbler 06-Oct-11  7 Northern Wheatear 06-Oct-11  8 Red-billed Chough 06-Oct-11
9 Spotless Starling 06-Oct-11  10 Stonechat 06-Oct-11  11 House Sparrow 06-Oct-11
Cabo de São Vicente (Stand Of Trees) 
37.04956 -8.953865
Total Species 5
This was stumbled across on our foray to find the hawkwatch spot and having only really had time to do a quick foray into the forest. I was surprised when two Mistle thrush were noted when I heard them call. This was our only sighting of this species and in truth the wood was pretty quiet as a lot of coniferous woods are...life only seems to exist high up in the canopy that is impossible to see.1 Black Kite 06-Oct-11  2 European Pied Flycatcher 06-Oct-11  3 Spotless Starling 06-Oct-11
4 Mistle Thrush 06-Oct-11  5 European Goldfinch 06-Oct-11

Alvor Estuary & A Rocha
A Rocha (37.144535 -8.6080670)
Alvor Estuary (37.132335 -8.611908)
Total Species 32
This is a lovely place and would recommend visiting both A Rocha and the estuary itself as the track to A Rocha is on the way to the estuary. I would check A Rocha website for details of when they are open to the public to view what work they do in the area. Be there in the morning for moth trapping demonstrations, bird ringing demos, talks and walk around the farm which are are open to the public on Thursdays until 13:00. You can also sample home made cake and a cup of coffee with them but of course a small donation would be the least we could do. The ringing is always nice to see and a close up in the hand was a cracking Azure Winged Magpie amongst other things. A talk about the area and moth demonstration was interesting and with permission I recorded a snippet of a talk about the area which you can find below the species list. The estuary itself is a very important area for birds but at this time it's future is uncertain due to species of plant only found in this area being taken so as not to stop future developments in this area with the possibility of more golf courses! The walk around the estuary is a good walk along a well worn path with good species being seen on the right days. We visited the area twice over the two weeks
1 Azure-winged Magpie 06-Oct-11  2 Fan-tailed Warbler 06-Oct-11  3 Black-headed Gull 06-Oct-11  4 Black-tailed Godwit 06-Oct-11
5 Black-winged Stilt 06-Oct-11  6 Cattle Egret 06-Oct-11  7 Common Greenshank 06-Oct-11  8 Common Redshank 06-Oct-11
9 Common Waxbill 06-Oct-11  10 Common Ringed Plover 06-Oct-11  11 Crested Lark 06-Oct-11  12 Dunlin 06-Oct-11
13 Eurasian Blackbird 06-Oct-11  14 European Goldfinch 06-Oct-11  15 Eurasian Jay 06-Oct-11  16 Eurasian Oystercatcher 06-Oct-11
17 Eurasian Spoonbill 06-Oct-11  18 Greater Flamingo 06-Oct-11  19 House Sparrow 06-Oct-11  20 Kentish Plover 06-Oct-11
21 Lesser Black-backed Gull 06-Oct-11  22 Little Egret 06-Oct-11  23 Little Stint 06-Oct-11  24 Northern Wheatear 06-Oct-11
25 Pied Avocet 06-Oct-11  26 Ruddy Turnstone 06-Oct-11  27 Sanderling 06-Oct-11  28 Sandwich Tern 06-Oct-11
29 Stonechat 06-Oct-11  30 Willow Warbler 06-Oct-11  31 Yellow-legged Gull 06-Oct-11  32 Grey Plover 06-Oct-11
37.164631 -7.771611
Total Species 11
Mandy and I just chose a few places of our own and we stumbled on this stand of trees right by the roadside. It was almost instant as I could here the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the distance when next flew across a Nuthatch just as Mandy called a real speciality of Portugal, the Crested Tit. It sat in a few Olive trees. I did not have the camera with me so I walked back to the car before getting this "record" shot of this cracking beauty. The picture is poor but you get the idea. It was our first and last sighting of this species
1 Blue Tit 09-Oct-11  2 Crested Tit 09-Oct-11  3 European Pied Flycatcher 09-Oct-11  4 Eurasian Blackbird 09-Oct-11
5 Eurasian Nuthatch 09-Oct-11  6 Willow Warbler 09-Oct-11  7 Green Woodpecker 09-Oct-11  8 Long-tailed Tit 09-Oct-11
9 Red-rumped Swallow 09-Oct-11  10 Short-toed Treecreeper 09-Oct-11  11 Great Tit 09-Oct-11

Foia Mountain
Total Species 7
A quick late afternoon to this area had us looking for a few specialities but we had to settle for just one with a very handsome Rock Bunting quickly flitting up to a communication line. Foia mountain is a spectacular place to visit with it's superb vistas and good birds. As you can see in the picture you can even have a beer and something to eat in the cafe at the top as you take in some stunning scenery. We were lucky as the visibility was excellent allowing views right across the Algarve and down to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the highest point in the Algarve standing at some 2959 feet above sea level. I would recommend a trip up here as not only is it good for non birding partners it offers the cahnce of some sought after species.1 Black Redstart 13-Oct-11  2 Common Kestrel 13-Oct-11  3 Northern Wheatear 13-Oct-11  4 Fan-tailed Warbler 13-Oct-11
5 Rock Bunting 13-Oct-11  6 Stonechat 13-Oct-11  7 Peregrine Falcon 13-Oct-11

Total Species 9
This was visited on our way up to Foia mountain. It is a very mountainous area with fantastic upland forest. We did not have much time but given more time I think it would be a great place for Flycatchers, Tits, Treecreeper, Woodpeckers and Nuthatches. The towns are quaint and there are some superb stopping places with picnic stops on the way up that give some stunning views on the way up.
1 European Pied Flycatcher 13-Oct-11  2 Eurasian Blackbird 13-Oct-11  3 European Goldfinch 13-Oct-11  4 European Greenfinch 13-Oct-11
5 Short-toed Treecreeper 13-Oct-11  6 European Robin 13-Oct-11  7 Great Tit 13-Oct-11  8 Great Spotted Woodpecker 13-Oct-11
9 Eurasian Nuthatch 13-Oct-11
Fuseta Pelagic Trip
Total Species 22

Mandy and I have very little experience of Pelagic trips so with an opportunity opening up I booked a trip out with a German chap that had settled in Portugal in around 2005 and takes birders on both land and sea birding trips. His blog is available on the internet which whilst not always up to date is very useful in contacting him and also to get a feel for the area and news of what may be about in the more birding times of the year Spring and Autumn. I will put his contact details and that of the boat companies below this writing.We met up as arranged at the pier in Fuseta and it was soon clear that we would be sharing the boat with only two other punters. Normally when we book anything like this it is packed so we were very pleased to note this. It was a great boat which allowed good movement without the need for loads of health and safety restrictions. We set off having said hello to our fellow passengers and it was not long before it was clear the wash wash very strong and the bay was quite rough for a boat so light and so few people in! At one point it broke over a wave so high and hard that the spine cried out in pain. The only thing missing was Moby Dick! I showed a yellow card to our boatman, Ricardo, at this point and it seemed to do the trick as the waves abated a little. We were clearly in search of an odd vessel as once out of the bay watching a few Gulls and Waders it was very very quiet. After about 40mins it was mooted that we may have to go back to the bay to search waders.....Having endured pain of the spine, wave slapped faces and soaking clothing and spectacles it seemed disappointing. Ricardo saved the day as he spotted a boat on the far horizon for we he set off...that boat could move...we left the set of Moby Dick for a more energetic Hawaii Five-O.
You can see from the video the difference a bot makes! Whilst the birds were quite few in general we did enjoy the trip and would look to do this again.
Please note that Georg does other trips from several places along the Algarve coast including Portimao and Fuseta.
Contact details are, Georg Schreier Website HERE and his Blog is HERE
The company Georg uses out of Fuseta is called "Passeios-ria-formosa" and their website is HERE
Audouin's Gull 11-Oct-11  2 Yellow-legged Gull 11-Oct-11  3 Grey Plover 11-Oct-11  4 Black-tailed Godwit 11-Oct-11
5 European Storm-Petrel 11-Oct-11  6 Common Tern 11-Oct-11  7 Common Ringed Plover 11-Oct-11  8 Cory's Shearwater 11-Oct-11
9 Dunlin 11-Oct-11  10 Eurasian Oystercatcher 11-Oct-11  11 Great Cormorant 11-Oct-11  12 Great Shearwater 11-Oct-11
13 Great Skua 11-Oct-11  14 Kentish Plover 11-Oct-11  15 Lesser Black-backed Gull 11-Oct-11  16 Mediterranean Gull 11-Oct-11
17 Northern Gannet 11-Oct-11  18 Ruddy Turnstone 11-Oct-11  19 Sandwich Tern 11-Oct-11  20 Slender-billed Gull 11-Oct-11
21 Whimbrel 11-Oct-11  22 Balearic Shearwater 11-Oct-11
Mesa Do Cume

Total Species 10This in truth was a place I had heard of for some lovely things to eat and I thought whilst we would be up in the mountains it may bring about some birding opportunities. The place was in the middle of nowhere and up a very windy road. Plenty of viewpoints to admire the views and hardly any traffic to encounter. If you have a wife to keep happy then if you can make it to this place the brownie points will be stacked up nicely. Superb views from the outside tables and food to die for. Mandy and I both remarked that of all places we have eaten this could well be the best. The website of Mesa Do Cume can be found HERE. Strangely enough the birding was quiet despite good valleys and plenty of woodland on the way up. We did get our only Woodpigeon of the trip though which was a bonus.
Azure-winged Magpie 07-Oct-11  2 Common Buzzard 07-Oct-11  3 Common Wood-Pigeon 07-Oct-11  4 Crested Lark 07-Oct-11
5 Willow Warbler 07-Oct-11  6 European Pied Flycatcher 07-Oct-11  7 Eurasian Blackbird 07-Oct-11  8 Eurasian Jay 07-Oct-11
9 European Robin 07-Oct-11  10 Eurasian Collared-Dove 07-Oct-11

Total species 21
This was a place I thought may turn up something but sadly it was mostly nothing special. I would not bother in this area again although given a better search it could prove different. Hunting dogs were noted on several occasions being ferried around but we never encountered any hunting activities directly.
1 Azure-winged Magpie 13-Oct-11  2 White Wagtail 13-Oct-11  3 Common Moorhen 13-Oct-11  4 Common Ringed Plover 13-Oct-11
5 Crested Lark 13-Oct-11  6 Curlew Sandpiper 13-Oct-11  7 Western Yellow Wagtail 13-Oct-11  8 Eurasian Collared-Dove 13-Oct-11
9 Eurasian Blackbird 13-Oct-11  10 Eurasian Coot 13-Oct-11  11 European Goldfinch 13-Oct-11  12 European Greenfinch 13-Oct-11
13 Common Linnet 13-Oct-11  14 Grey Heron 13-Oct-11  15 House Sparrow 13-Oct-11  16 Little Egret 13-Oct-11
17 Northern Wheatear 13-Oct-11  18 Spotless Starling 13-Oct-11  19 Stonechat 13-Oct-11  20 White Stork 13-Oct-11
21 Cattle Egret 13-Oct-11

Ria Formosa Visitor Centre
Total species seen 39
This was walked almost ev

Azure-winged Magpie 09-Oct-11  2 Fan-tailed Warbler 09-Oct-11  3 Grey Plover 09-Oct-11  4 Black-headed Gull 09-Oct-11
5 Blackcap 09-Oct-11  6 Cattle Egret 09-Oct-11  7 Cetti's Warbler 09-Oct-11  8 Common Greenshank 09-Oct-11
9 Common Kingfisher 09-Oct-11  10 Common Moorhen 09-Oct-11  11 Common Redshank 09-Oct-11  12 Common Ringed Plover 09-Oct-11
13 Curlew Sandpiper 09-Oct-11  14 Dunlin 09-Oct-11  15 Eurasian Collared-Dove 09-Oct-11  16 European Pied Flycatcher 09-Oct-11
17 Eurasian Blackbird 09-Oct-11  18 Eurasian Coot 09-Oct-11  19 Eurasian Curlew 09-Oct-11  20 European Goldfinch 09-Oct-11
21 European Greenfinch 09-Oct-11  22 Eurasian Jay 09-Oct-11  23 European Robin 09-Oct-11  24 Gadwall 09-Oct-11
25 Grey Heron 09-Oct-11  26 House Sparrow 09-Oct-11  27 Kentish Plover 09-Oct-11  28 Lesser Black-backed Gull 09-Oct-11
29 Little Egret 09-Oct-11  30 Little Grebe 09-Oct-11  31 Little Stint 09-Oct-11  32 Mallard 09-Oct-11
33 Northern Shoveler 09-Oct-11  34 Ruddy Turnstone 09-Oct-11  35 Sanderling 09-Oct-11  36 Spotted Flycatcher 09-Oct-11
37 Willow Warbler 09-Oct-11  38 Yellow-legged Gull 09-Oct-11  39 Bar-tailed Godwit 09-Oct-11

Total Species seen 8

Blackcap 09-Oct-11
  2 Common Redstart 09-Oct-11  3 European Goldfinch 09-Oct-11  4 Willow Warbler 09-Oct-11
5 Great Tit 09-Oct-11  6 Long-tailed Tit 09-Oct-11  7 Short-toed Eagle 09-Oct-11  8 Common Kestrel 09-Oct-11

Quinta Do Lago Area
Total species seen 45
Total species seen 7
Hide 1
Total species seen 8
Hide 2
Total Species seen 24
Total Species seen 15

Bar-tailed Godwit 08-Oct-11
  2 Fan-tailed Warbler 08-Oct-11  3 Black-headed Gull 08-Oct-11  4 Black-tailed Godwit 08-Oct-11
5 Black-winged Stilt 08-Oct-11  6 Blackcap 08-Oct-11  7 Cattle Egret 08-Oct-11  8 Common Chiffchaff 08-Oct-11
9 Common Greenshank 08-Oct-11  10 Common Moorhen 08-Oct-11  11 Common Sandpiper 08-Oct-11  12 Common Waxbill 08-Oct-11
13 Common Ringed Plover 08-Oct-11  14 Crested Lark 08-Oct-11  15 Dunlin 08-Oct-11  16 Western Yellow Wagtail 08-Oct-11
17 Eurasian Collared-Dove 08-Oct-11  18 Eurasian Blackbird 08-Oct-11  19 Eurasian Coot 08-Oct-11  20 Eurasian Curlew 08-Oct-11
21 European Goldfinch 08-Oct-11  22 European Greenfinch 08-Oct-11  23 Common Kestrel 08-Oct-11  24 Eurasian Spoonbill 08-Oct-11
25 Grey Heron 08-Oct-11  26 Great Cormorant 08-Oct-11  27 Green Woodpecker 08-Oct-11  28 Eurasian Hoopoe 08-Oct-11
29 House Sparrow 08-Oct-11  30 Kentish Plover 08-Oct-11  31 Lesser Black-backed Gull 08-Oct-11  32 Little Egret 08-Oct-11
33 Little Grebe 08-Oct-11  34 Little Stint 08-Oct-11  35 Meadow Pipit 08-Oct-11  36 Northern Wheatear 08-Oct-11
37 Rock Dove 08-Oct-11  38 Ruddy Turnstone 08-Oct-11  39 Sanderling 08-Oct-11  40 Sardinian Warbler 08-Oct-11
41 Stonechat 08-Oct-11  42 Whimbrel 08-Oct-11  43 Willow Warbler 08-Oct-11  44 Yellow-legged Gull 08-Oct-11
45 Grey Plover 08-Oct-11

Balcony list
1 Azure-winged Magpie  09-Oct-11  2 Fan-tailed Warbler 09-Oct-11  3 Black-headed Gull 09-Oct-11  4 Black-winged Stilt 09-Oct-11  5 Blackcap 09-Oct-11
6 Bluethroat 09-Oct-11  7 Caspian Tern 16-Oct-11  8 Cattle Egret 09-Oct-11  9 Common House-Martin 09-Oct-11  10 Common Kingfisher 09-Oct-11
11 Common Redshank 09-Oct-11  12 Common Sandpiper 09-Oct-11  13 Common Waxbill 09-Oct-11  14 Common Ringed Plover 09-Oct-11
15 Crested Lark Oct-11  16 Dunlin 16-Oct-11  17 Eurasian Collared-Dove 09-Oct-11  18 Eurasian Blackbird 09-Oct-11  19 Eurasian Curlew 09-Oct-11
20 European Goldfinch 09-Oct-11  21 Eurasian Jay  09-Oct-11  22 Common Magpie 09-Oct-11  23 European Serin 09-Oct-11  24 Eurasian Spoonbill 09-Oct-11
25 Grey Heron 09-Oct-11  26 Greater Flamingo 09-Oct-11  27 House Sparrow 09-Oct-11  28 Kentish Plover 16-Oct-11  29 Lesser Black-backed Gull 09-Oct-11
30 Little Egret 09-Oct-11  31 Little Grebe 09-Oct-11  32 Little Owl 09-Oct-11  33 Mallard 09-Oct-11  34 Mediterranean Gull 12-Oct-11
35 Osprey 09-Oct-11  36 Pied Avocet 15-Oct-11  37 Red-rumped Swallow 09-Oct-11  38 Rock Dove 09-Oct-11  39 Ruddy Turnstone 09-Oct-11
40 Sandwich Tern 09-Oct-11  41 Sardinian Warbler 12-Oct-11  42 Spotless Starling 09-Oct-11  43 Stonechat 09-Oct-11  44 Whimbrel 09-Oct-11
45 White Stork 09-Oct-11  46 White Wagtail 09-Oct-11  47 Willow Warbler 09-Oct-11  48 Yellow-legged Gull 09-Oct-11  49 Grey Plover 09-Oct-11
1) Shear Volume Of Birds Noted
2) Observing Very Clear Migration Taking Place
3) Food
4) Balcony View
5) Masses of Dragonflies through the first week.
1) Visitor Centres etc Left To Rack And Ruin
2) Toll Roads (getting worse) 
3) Lot's Of Driving From Our Base
4) Poor (harsh) Light
5) Cost To Eat Out
DSLR Nikon D80 with sigma 100-300 f/4 lens and sigma 1.4x teleconverter.
Digiscoped Zeiss Diascope 85T with 20x60 Zoom Eyepiece coupled to a Nikon P5100 with a SRB Gritturn digiscoping swing bracket v1.

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